Friday, March 20, 2015

San Andres, Tazumal y Casa Blanca

We went on an excursion yesterday up into the mountains above the capitol of San Salvador. Scott and Cindy of Velvet Sky rented a car and asked us to join them on a visit to Mayan archeological sites. The map above shows our route for the day.
Each site has a museum with maps, history, photos, and actual artifacts that have been unearthed there. Most of it is translated into English, thank goodness. Tazumal (above) also had a garden walk and a picnic area.
This statue reminded me of the Terracotta Warriors of Xian. However, it is not a mere mortal put there to guard the kings in the afterlife, but a god named Xipe Totec.
 Although I enjoyed seeing the ruins, my favorite stop was Casa Blanca. It has ruins too, but it also has an Indigo Workshop where you can dye a piece of fabric with actual indigo dye. There is a long history of indigo dying here in Central America. Leaves of the native indigo plant (indigofera suffructicosa) were traditionally mixed with urine to make the dye. Judging by the smell of this vat, they may still be using that process here; it reeked. At this stage the dye doesn't look blue, but more greenish. After massaging the fabric below the surface of the dye for three minutes, you bring it out and rub it to get oxygen into the fibers. Then the magic happens and the dye turns blue. After two more dying cycles, you are ready to rinse the fabric. 
The fabric is rinsed in plain water until the water runs clear, then the rubber bands are removed revealing the tie dye pattern. After a rinse in vinegar to set the dye, and a final rinse in fabric softener, your project is done. 
The pieces of fabric that they give you (free with the price of admission) are about 13" square. Perfect for a throw pillow or wall hanging and what a great souvenir. 

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