Finca el Zapote

Finca el Zapote

You are invited to the annual charity picnic

by Maya Fledderjohn

Mark your calendar! On Sunday March 3 (8 a.m.-5 p.m.), visitors will again have the rare opportunity to visit Finca El Zapote. Those familiar with the extraordinary book Maya de Guatemala will recall that El Zapote was where Carmen Pettersen, at age 70 and blind in one eye, undertook the extraordinary task of painting Guatemalan native costumes to ensure that their tradition would not be lost. Her models were employees at the farm, now run by a third generation of her descendants; it is still possible today to run across some of them at the farm.

The entire proceeds from the sale of Maya de Guatemala were donated to the Museo Ixchel and represented a significant contribution toward building the museum, which houses the entire collection of Mrs. Pettersen’s original watercolors, amidst the Ixchel´s invaluable collection of Mayan textiles. The showrooms have undergone a recent renovation and represent a new and fresh exposure to our textile treasures and heritage. A must see in Guatemala City!

Tucked away in a remote corner of Escuintla at the foot of Fuego volcano, the El Zapote farm is inaccessible by land once the rainy season begins and the rivers start to rise. While the weather is beautiful and warm, the Loenowens family, owners of this breathtaking property, graciously extend their hospitality, once a year, as a fundraising activity for the Museo Ixchel.

El Zapote has been producing cinchona for export since the 1950s when demand for the malaria-fighting substance increased dramatically after World War II. Cinchona has many medicinal and homeopathic qualities and is used to produce quinine water, paint and cosmetics.

The annual picnic takes place on over 30 acres of impeccably landscaped gardens, designed over 60 years ago and lush and rich with a blend of tropical and temperate vegetation. There are also five stocked freshwater ponds scattered throughout the property. One of these even has a Tarzan-style rope, which attracts a long line of people of all ages seeking the thrill of swinging from the rope and jumping in. Fishing poles are available for rent.

This annual event is a real treat, and the scenery alone is worth the trip. But more importantly it constitutes an important fundraiser for the Museo Ixchel in its efforts to preserve native Mayan dress.

Tickets and directions are provided at the museum. For more information contact: info@museoixchel.org Tels: 2361-8081 /2

Rope swinging into the swimming pond

Rope swinging into the swimming pond

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