If it seems as though Mark and I keep saying the same thing about Salento (“We love it here!” “It’s so peaceful and rejuvenating!” The people are so warm and friendly!”), it’s because it’s true. We’ve been here just about a week now and we don’t actually want to leave. I can now chime in and agree with our friend Ang that this is a town I would move to over all the others we’ve visited on this trip. Who knew?
Last night, I had the pleasure of taking a private art class with Beth, a new friend from Charlottesville, Virgina, by way of Portland, Oregon, and Vermont. The class was taught by Janneth, a woman from an artist community on the outskirts of town, and was held in her kitchen. This might sound strange, but, in fact, it’s how all of the classes in Villa Flor are run. Each of the 20 or so families live on a beautiful “compound” of sorts and a member of each of these families teaches a different kind of trade. For a small fee, tourists can take a two-to-four hour class on anything from beading to bag-making and there are plenty of gorgeous one-of-a-kind pieces for sale in the various “shops” scattered around the grounds. Goats, chickens, and rabbits live in a coop behind the complex and there’s a huge garden with fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruit nearby a small adjacent dairy farm.
Beth had already signed up for a stained-glass making class, so I went along for the ride. Although I had a hard time keeping up with the rapid-fire Spanish spoken by our generous host (I say generous because a warm glass of fresh jamaica and a big bowl of chips were also included in the class, much to my stomach’s delight), I had no problem following along as she demonstrated the steps to making a hanging incense-holder for the bathroom.
After sufficiently stuffing ourselves with food, we were given pieces of cut glass salvaged from some of the town’s refuse bins. Next, we flipped through a portfolio of ink-drawings upon which to base our designs. Beth wanted to do bees but was strongly discouraged; we’re not sure why. For some unknown reason, the first thought that popped into my head was a mermaid, but then I came to my senses (Mermaid incense holder? Creepy!) and chose a simple (i.e. lame) collage of flowers and grass. Clearly, “innovative” is not a word used to describe my creative process.
We placed the glass pieces on top of our papers and carefully traced the stenciled outline of our intended designs. Then, after a half-hour interlude of goat-feeding and oooing and aaahing over red-eyed rabbits with our teacher’s kids while the initial paint was drying, we then painted the rest of our creations and molded pieces of clay onto each piece of glass to use for hanging and holding the incense in place. When we were finished, we realized that our artistic masterpieces were not the stupendous creations we hoped they’d be. In fact, they looked virtually identical and hilariously goofy, especially when compared to our teacher’s finished product (which she finished in half the time). But hey, perfection is not the point of the class, eh? Grin.
Although it looks like my burgeoning career in glass-painting might not be such a good idea after all, I did really enjoy the few hours spent working with my hands (and inhaling paint fumes). If the incense-holder happens to make it back to New York in one piece after bouncing around in my suitcase for two more months (I know, I know. Brilliant souvenir choice.), you might just be able to witness the masterpiece firsthand when using the bathroom in my apartment. That is, if I am lucky enough to have a window in my bathroom. Ah, good old New York apartment living.
Hey, this is just the beginning. Maybe you could have a booth next to mine!!!!!
Sounds like a plan!!
Actually, it’s very interesting and colorful.
Thank you both for taking me along. I look forward to each post and I am in awe of where you go and what you do and knowing you are having a great time! Love to you, safe journeys! Lee