Designing For a Better Life

A few weeks ago I met a man selling his hanging basket made of natural fiber twine on the street in San Pedro. I love the look of the wire frame and twine and have been wanting to create light fixtures from the same materials so I stop and start a conversation with the man I find out is named Pablo, from San Pablo. 

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San Pablo is a small town in Lake Atitlan just a 15 minute tuk tuk ride from the more popular tourist town of San Marcos. San Pablo has no tourism and i doubt even has a hotel. It also doesn’t have much in the way of commerce like its neighbor, San Juan, known for its weaving cooperatives and Coffee production. Out of his bag Pablo pulls out a piece of cardboard an english speaker wrote for him asking for donations to buy school supplies for his town.

 The cardboard note Pablo shares with English speaking tourists

The cardboard note Pablo shares with English speaking tourists

Pablo also tells me how he comes to sell his baskets that his family makes in San Pedro since there’s no one to buy them in San Pedro. Although I love the style I just don’t need a hanging basket today but pull out my phone and show him the Pinterest board I had already created for a line of lighting I’ve been working on.  He lit up with the opportunity to make the lighting pendants and shades from his wire and twine. He was excited at the opportunity and ready to get to work. We exchanged contact info and i promised to return with the pictures printed, some sketches and some money to buy materials. 

In the following two weeks before I returned Pablo called me weekly to check in and make sure I was still coming.  On the day we were to meet he was waiting for me and we rode back to his home in San Pablo where I met his family who all were artisans in their own right.  His daughter crocheted bikinis and typical souvenirs as well as sewed for clothing designers, one of which I recognized the piece she pulled out as an example of her work.  I spent the afternoon with pictures and sketches ordering the first 5 samples to be made.  I know it might take a few times to get the designs right before I'll have the prototype to photograph and market.   I left him with a deposit to buy materials and will be returning in 10 days to review the samples.

I know I have a special privilege to have access to a global community through the internet with my Etsy shop and contacts in the retail business in the US to buy in bulk.  I look for ways to help people by creating new products and getting them to market. I’m looking forward to creating a relationship with Pablo, getting to know his family and creating and selling these beautiful fixtures.

Carley MontgomeryComment
In Search of Mayan Black Salt
 Black salt being sold roadside in Sacapulas, Guatemala

Black salt being sold roadside in Sacapulas, Guatemala

While enjoying a customary Lake Atitlan cup of ceremonial cacao at Il Giardino Restaurant in San Marcos I was served a side of Black Volcanic salt.  Being a connoisseur and admirer of natural salt I began researching where to find this local source of high vibrational minerals.  I've been a salt trader for more than a year now since I found a bulk importer of Pink Himalayan Salt in Costa Rica and have distributed hundreds of kilos to restaurants, retailers and end users throughout Costa Rica. I am passionate about using high quality salt in our food, especially in Costa Rica where common table salt is refined and fluoridated.

I quickly found that the salt is produced in Sakapulas, a community a few hours north of Lake Atitlan east of Huahuatenego.  A few days later Allove and I were in a shuttle headed to find the source of this medicinal mineral compound.  According to www.mayaglobal2012.com the salt is used in traditional Mayan medicine to treat stomach and eye problems.  

"The ancient Maya population consumed large quantities of salt. They believed it was the heart of everything. It was required in their diet and it was also used as a preservative. Salt was frequently used for ritual and medicinal purposes and was a component of childbirth and death. The Maya today continue to produce Black Salt because of its cultural importance and they value its unique flavor as an enhancement in cooking versus other salts." (source mayanglobal2012.com).

Upon arriving at a crossroads outside Sakapulas where the shuttle driver let me off I was greeted by a local Tuktuk Driver who became my guide for the day.  I asked him to take me to the place where the black salt was made and we were off.  The town of Sakapulas is known for it's black salt and it's signature candy made from peanuts and raw sugar.  The black salt is made by one man and is sold at the central market and in every road side stand in the community. 

The tuk tuk parked at the end of a road and we walked a foot path to an earthen casita where we met Maximilliano Gomez, the 70 year old man solely responsible for the entire salt production of Sakapulas.  Maximilliano quickly got to work packing my order and was happy to explain the process of how the salt is produced.  

 Production Facility of Maximilliano Gomez in Sacapulas

Production Facility of Maximilliano Gomez in Sacapulas

 Maximilliano packing salt for sale.  The clay bowls in the background are used to cook the salt in an open fire for 12 hours to get the crystal form.

Maximilliano packing salt for sale.  The clay bowls in the background are used to cook the salt in an open fire for 12 hours to get the crystal form.

Maximilliano's wife, Maria, came to help and while they packed the order I asked if any of their 4 children work with the salt.  I learned that once Maximilliano stops producing salt in Sacupulas there is no one to produce the salt at this location.

If you would like to purchase some Mayan Black Salt for yourself you can buy it on my website at www.carleymontgomery.com/shopbohotrader/mayan-black-salt

 Boho Trader Black Salt packed by the pound and shipped worldwide from Guatemala.

Boho Trader Black Salt packed by the pound and shipped worldwide from Guatemala.

Design of Slow Living
 Crystals, air plants, wood and natural rocks are used in the healing space project,  Finca Buena Nota  in Quebradas, Costa Rica. 

Crystals, air plants, wood and natural rocks are used in the healing space project, Finca Buena Nota in Quebradas, Costa Rica. 

I have been diving into what elements we live in and how our environments affect our overall health.  It is now becoming evident in mainstream thought that our diseases, illnesses and imbalances are caused by environmental stress.  

The question is how do we change our internal and external environments to create healing and overall health and vitality in our mind, body and spirit.  This has been the focus of my design work since moving to Costa Rica and discovering that one of my creative contributions to the world is in conscious interior design.  I have since studied natural building design and construction methods, non toxic cleaning and insecticides to detoxify the home, crystal healing, space cleansing ceremonies with sound, smudge and intention and incorporating the elements to create sanctuary to connect with the earth even from a city apartment.  

The result has been an homage to slow living which focused on slowing the pace of life to bring consciousness to our everyday experiences.  I aim to create spaces where one feels calm and invigorated, inspired to cook themselves wholesome healing foods, cleanse their body and mind in self guided spa like experiences, fasting, detox and meditation.  Each space inspires artistic expression and ceremonial vibrations.

My latest Healing Space project, Vida Despacio, is in Antigua, Guatemala.  I chose this space for it's high ceilings, rustic finishes and large windows creating a pallet that captures the rustic Colonial charm of Antigua.  Styled with all natural fiber traditional textiles, healing crystals, local hand made baskets, Art, candles and a plethora of houseplants in earthen pottery the space is sure to invoke a sense of tranquility.  

More information and pictures of the Healing Space in Antigua can be found on the Airbnb Site or Contact Carley for booking.

 Slow food at Vida Despacio Antigua.  Fresh local ingredients minimally prepared and served with hot fresh corn tortillas.

Slow food at Vida Despacio Antigua.  Fresh local ingredients minimally prepared and served with hot fresh corn tortillas.

 

 

Carley MontgomeryComment