There´s a fairly new shop in Bucaramanga called Naif which sells all sorts of handmade treats. I was tickled to learn of its existence because there are no other shops like it here. They put on workshops fairly regularly and last weekend held one about weaving in the tradition of the Guanes – the indigenous people that lived in this area before the Spaniards wiped them out. The workshop was being held at a hostel in the desert oasis of La Mojarra – an area in the mountains I´ve been to before to go hiking and climbing. As a long-time lover of handicrafts it took little convincing to get me to sign up.
On Saturday morning we met at the store and headed up to the Juan Palitos hostel in a van. We had breakfast and then started collecting bamboo to make our weaving frames. I was excited to learn that the first step of weaving was hacking away at bamboo with a machete.
We were being taught by Nirko Andrade, a delightful man who lives in Guane.
The process of weaving involved moving across the row of yarn – pulling one strand forward, one strand back, one strand forward and on and on to the end of the row. Then we passed two sticks through the middle of the two groups of yarn to hold the weaving in place and continued back across the row of yarn in the other direction.
We spent the whole day working in near silence, taking a short break for lunch and then getting right back into weaving. Although the day´s activities only included eating, sitting and moving pieces of yarn around, the concentration it required left me feeling exhausted by 6:00. The next day we got an early start and learned a more complex method of weaving. Again we spent the day absorbed in a quiet collective weaving trance and headed back to Bucaramanga in the late afternoon.