Blog Content & Website Design: Marney Wilde • Photographs by George Wilde

Puerto Quetzal, Quetamala

When we were last here we toured around the area so this time we stayed near the port and investigated the local market which gave us a chance to look at some native crafts and to photograph some of the people in their colorful clothing.

It was here that we had the Adventure of the Flutes. While walking around the marketplace we heard a delightful tune coming from a handcrafted, colorful flute. The price was very reasonable so we purchased a couple of them to take home to grandchildren. Once back on the ship we cleaned the holes of the flutes with sanitizer and sat down to try and play them. No luck. No luck at all! Neither of us could get any sound at all, let along a pleasant one such as we'd enjoyed in the marketplace.

So, after lunch we gathered up our flutes and back over to the marketplace we went, in search of a flute lesson. The seller was very willing to teach us, but try as we might, only the most miserable sounds emerged. His advice, "Practice!" We did have him play the two flutes we'd purchased, so we'd know these two were playable instruments, but thus far we've not had much success. We've held off giving them to the children until we can master at least the reliable production of a tone, no matter how unmusical it may be.

Judging from the pleasant burnt-wood odor that surrounds the flutes, they seem to have been made by burning out the interior of the wood and then the holes and designs were carved onto them. The design sections are stained with colorful wood stains as best as I can tell.

About the photos of children's weaving: The children that sat in a circle around a large tree, each working on a backstrap loom seemed to be there more to provide a photo opportunity (for a tip) than to create any quality weaving; they weren't very proficient weavers. A lot of backstrap woven pieces were for sale in the local marketplace so it does seem that weaving is a common, profitable occupation. I could tell that some pieces were commercially woven, but there were others that were likely hand-woven; you can often tell by the quality of the edges. Even the best weavers will not be likely to produce the perfect edges that a commercial loom can create and those slight irregularities are, to me, part of the charm of a handwoven article.


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The Marketplace

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