Culture

This Indigenous Man Had To Face Harsh Criticisms For Being A Weaver—Now He’s Presenting His Designs At NY Fashion Week

Alberto López Gómez was born into a Tzotzil family in Aldama, Chiapas — a region of Mexico marked by economic and gender inequality. In Aldama, indigenous men work in the fields while the women weave, and this has been customary since time immemorial. Alberto, however, wanted to be a weaver since he was a child and after defying his community’s social structure, his designs are taking him as far as New York Fashion Week.

For Alberto López Gómez, it was clear from childhood that he wanted to be a weaver.

In 2014, López Gómez decided to challenge traditional thinking. He was 25 and until that point had followed his culture’s expectations. He decided to change his life. The Los Altos region of Chiapas is Maya country where most people live in rural and traditional communities where the roles of men and women are strongly delineated.

He had to deal with disapproving stares and being told over and over that his place was the fields.

“A young man who is working at a loom is frowned upon. I thought things over and told my mother that I wanted to learn how to weave, and my mother said, ‘You know that men work in the fields.’” “But I answered that I had the right to learn how to weave,” he said in an interview with the German Network for Human Rights in Mexico.

Four years after he started knitting with his sisters, the Chiapas man, who had to face harsh criticisms for being a weaver, runs his own workshop.

Every day at 6:00 a.m. he got up to weave for as many as 14 hours at a time, allowing him to hone his technique. “I was hiding within four walls, working in my house,” he says. “People were whispering at my walk, but we are breaking the chain.” Later he moved to the tourist destination of San Cristóbal de las Casas where he established his own business. Here, over 130 Tzotzil artisans bring their textiles where they can get fair prices and be treated with respect.

Six years later, his talent and perseverance have paid off.

Gómez is slated to present his work and that of his community at Harvard University and New York’s prestigious Fashion Week. At the end of January, he will travel to Boston to give a talk about the cosmology found on traditional Tzotzil huipils, the square or rectangular garments common in central and southern Mexico, that are often highly decorated with woven and/or embroidered patterns. These designs are linked to the traditional beliefs and customs of a location.

He will present his own collection “K’uxul Pok” at the 2020 New York Fashion Week.

Posted by Aula Textil P'ejel on Friday, October 4, 2019

The designs of his ‘Huipiles’ (from the Nahuatl word ‘huipilli’), blouses adorned with symbols of the cosmos, family, and nature, take about five months to produce following a traditional procedure.

We’ll have to wait until Feb. 6 to see the essence of Mayan spirituality woven into a “huipil” on a catwalk.

Posted by Aula Textil P'ejel on Thursday, January 2, 2020

In the meantime, Gómez, who has nothing to stop him has set himself other challenges: to create a museum of textile designs in his native region of Aldama to showcase his work and that of his companions and to write a memoir about the difficult journey he has made, which he hopes will inspire other young men in his community to become weavers.

“As indigenous people, we don’t know about our rights,” says the Chiapas artist. “Machismo has beaten us,” he adds. Yet stories like his weave a much more egalitarian future and build bridges between tradition and modernity.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Things That Matter

Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Hector Vivas/Getty Images

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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Mexico Is Owning The Instagram-Worthy World Of Glamping With These Bubble Hotels

Culture

Mexico Is Owning The Instagram-Worthy World Of Glamping With These Bubble Hotels

FRED TANNEAU/AFP via Getty Images

Right now just about everyone is itching to go on vacation. But considering that we’re still mid-pandemic and the call remains to socially distance, what can one do?

Sure, glamping is nothing new – it’s filled our Instagram feeds for years and was around long before that – but it may just provide travelers with that socially-distanced staycation that so many of us need right about now. Or, better yet, wait a little while longer and get yourself to Mexico where several new glamping bubble hotels are popping up.

Mexico will soon have three “bubble hotel” options for tourists looking for the next level of “glamping.”

When you think of camping, many of us think of bugs, not showering, and doing our private business behind a bush somewhere. While that’s still definitely an option for those of us that are into it, glamping has been a trend towards making the camping experience a more comfortable one.

Glamping has been gaining popularity among nature lovers, who also want to enjoy those everyday creature comforts, but in the midst of beautiful landscapes. That’s why bubble hotels have been popping up across Mexico, to offer clients a unique stay, close to nature they’re the perfect ‘getaway’ to get out of your daily routine.

From the bosque outside Mexico City to the deserts of Baja, Mexico is a glamping paradise. 

These bubble hotels have rooms described by travel guidebook publisher Lonely Planet as essentially inflatable, transparent domes designed to allow guests to cocoon themselves in nature without quite leaving their material comforts behind. 

There are already two such properties across Mexico with a third which will begin welcoming guests sometime toward the end of this year.

One of those that is already operational is Alpino Bubble Glamping in Mexico City while the other is the Campera Bubble Hotel in the Valle de Guadalupe wine region of Baja California.

Located in the Cumbres de Ajusco National Park in the south of the capital, the former has just two “bubbles,” a 40-square-meter deluxe one that goes for 4,500 pesos (about US $220) a night and a 25-square-meter standard where a stay costs a slightly more affordable 4,000 pesos.

Both have views of the Pico del Águila, the highest point of the Ajusco, or Xitle, volcano, and come equipped with telescopes that guests can use to get a better view of the surrounding scenery and night sky.

Bubble glamping isn’t the camping our parents dragged us out to do in the woods as kids.

Credit: Alpino Bubble Hotel

Sure you may be connecting with nature and enjoying awesome activities like horseback riding, stargazing, hiking or rafting, but these properties come with all the creature comforts we’re used to. 

Move nights, wifi, breakfast in bed, warm showers, luxurious bedding, and even a full bar are all standard amenities at many of these properties.

What do you think? Would you be up to stay the night at one of these bubble hotels?

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