The big looms are on the second story balcony of the Chavez house at Francisco I. Madero #55. They are 12 feet and 8 feet wide respectively. Two apprentices are here this week working at these looms. They arrive at 7 a.m. and leave 3 p.m. for comida. Yesterday, the younger one returned and worked until 10 p.m. The music from the boom box fills the entire space of the casa with blues and jazz repurposed in Spanish, and the beat beat beat of the looms shakes the underpinnings of the house. It is mucho trabajo, much work, constant work, long hours, and the finished 8 x 10 foot hand loomed rug made with naturally dyed 100% wool yarn will fetch about $1,600 USD. Not much for the labor involved. I am sitting on the balcony of my bedroom feeling the vibrations of the looms. The French doors are wide open and the grillwork casts a curly cue shadow across the floor. Beyond the geranium pots are courtyard upon courtyard of cooking fires, bleating sheep, cackling hens, tiled roofs, adobe walls, isolated pine trees, and in the distance the 9,000 foot high Sierra Madre del Sur.
The day is warm, 68 degrees. Nights are chilly, 45 degrees. The bougainvilla are blooming now. Roses twine over door arbors. White jasmine flowers drape across trellises providing needed shade. I can stand on the cobblestone street and in a matter of minutes a diminutive farmer, staff in hand, will guide his herd of cattle out from behind a walled fence, door flung open to the world, on their way to nibble alfalfa in the field beyond. I feel no need to do or see, only to be in this moment of tranquility.
There is a predictable pattern for each day in this Zapotec household. Arise. Sprinkle water on the courtyard floor. Sweep. Make coffee. Shower and dress. Weave a little. Climb into the blue camionetta (truck) for the morning trip to the market to buy food for the day. Visit there with village friends. Squeeze the pineapple or melon or papaya or oranges to test for freshness. Buy chicken breasts or tasajo (meat for grilling). Choose the tortillas from your favorite vendor: are they yellow, white or blue masa today? Stop for pan dulce (sweet bread). Put everything in your handmade woven basket. Come home, make fresh salsa. Sautee a mixture of diced carrots and potatoes and onions and chicken. Serve it on the table. Assemble a tortilla with the chicken mixture, add salsa, wrap it all and eat it. Drink coffee or hot chocolate. Dunk the sweet bread into your beverage to soften. This is a daily habit, a rhythm of repetition and comfort.