Thanks to everyone for your generosity! Yesterday’s fundraiser to support the Teotitlan del Valle Spay Neuter Clinic was a huge success. We raised over 8,000 pesos through local donations and 10,000 pesos from antique and collectible sales from Merry Foss’ bodega. Plus, I’m calculating that an added $485 USD came in via online donations through PayPal from friends who were unable to be here.
This totals about $1,438 USD. This covers a lot of sterilizations for dogs and cats here in Teotitlan del Valle, plus enables Merry Foss to start a more comprehensive education program about why it is important to spay/neuter animals.
Even with the threat of rain and eventual sprinkles, about 30 people came from Oaxaca City and Teotitlan del Valle, plus other nearby pueblos of Tlacochuaya and Huayapam. Some we knew and some we didn’t! It was great to have this show of support. We enjoyed Rosario’s handmade flautas de papas — the homemade organic tortillas were filled with a spicy potato puree, pure yum. Ernestina crafted 50 black bean tamales flavored with an avocado leaf, plus 125 tamales with chicken and yellow mole sauce. Not much was left!
Teotitlan Spay Neuter Clinic Mission Statement
I provided the food. Guests brought their favorite beverage. I’ll have another fundraiser party for the clinic in January 2019. I’m grateful to Merry for what she does to improve quality of life for animals and people here in our village. And, the service allowed me to easily sterilize the dogs I call pets: Mamacita, Butch and Tia.
My right hand person, Rosario!
Our friend Winn, who carried donations from friends in the city
Moises and Lois brought the most delicious horchata
I had this crazy idea of starting an on-line e-commerce website marketplace to sell and resell new and like-new Mexico clothing AND my own dress design.
(Skip the story, if you like, and scroll down to the goods.)
(I’ve been making and wearing the same dress pattern in different fabrics for the last several years. I thought, oh, I could make and sell these dresses too, because women have stopped to ask me where I bought it!)
I bought a domain name and tried to set up a Shopify store for the last two weeks. I’m frustrated. I can’t seem to get it. Too complicated. Too much time invested without decent results. Not good enough to publish, yet.
Meanwhile, I promised my friend Leslie, who did more than what was required to support artisan weavers and dyers on trips she took with me to Chiapas and the Oaxaca coast, to help her sell what she bought and has not worn. So, here are six beautiful pieces of clothing. You buy from me and Leslie ships to you from Denver, Colorado. Easy. You get it in a few days! See below on how to buy.
#1. San Antonino embroidered and crochet blouse in black and white
#1. SOLD. Flowers galore like a summer garden filled with pansies in a subdued palette of black, white with a tad of blue/gray for accent and depth. A masterful piece of embroidery work from one of the greats in the Oaxaca village of San Antonino Castillo Velasco. Brand new, never worn. Easy wash by hand or in machine on gentle, cold water, hang to dry. No ironing needed. Size Medium. $225 USD includes 3-day priority shipping in continental USA.
#1 detail of B&W San Antonino blusa
#2 San Mateo del Mar double-weave shawl, deep purple
#2. This stunning shawl was made on the back-strap loom in the Oaxaca Coast community of San Mateo del Mar. In 2017, the town was hit by an immense earthquake and the village was decimated. Many weavers suffered, losing their homes. We bought this at an earthquake relief sale on our Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour to benefit the weavers. It is 100% cotton and 100% made-by-hand. One-of-a-kind. For those of you who love graphic design and making a fashion impact, this shawl will fulfill all your wishes. Note: The shawl photographs black but it is a deep purple. New and never worn. 22-1/2″ wide x 75″ long. $200 includes 3-day priority USPS mailing in lower 48 states.
#2 has a beautiful drape, fine details
#3 Rayas Red and White, Chiapas back-strap loom
#3. This is a comfortable, 100% cotton blouse made on a back-strap loom from finest quality mercerized thread. It’s brand new and one-of-a-kind. The traditional design on the white stripes are added during the weaving process (not embroidered) and is called supplementary weft. Very fine and detailed needlework to embellish the neck and sleeves. We bought it at one of the best cooperatives in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, where Mayan weavers create extraordinary textiles. Machine wash on gentle or hand wash and hang to dry. No need to iron! Measures 23-1/4″ wide across the front and 26″ long from the shoulder. Size M. $110 includes priority USPS 3-day shipping to 48 states.
#3 shoulder detail with finished neck edge and sleeve cap
#4 Rayas in Red and Yellow, Chiapas
#4. This is a comfortable, 100% cotton blouse made on a back-strap loom from finest quality mercerized thread. It’s brand new and one-of-a-kind. The traditional Maya frog design on the yellow stripes are added during the weaving process (not embroidered) and is called supplementary weft. Very fine and detailed needlework to embellish the neck and sleeves. We bought it at one of the best cooperatives in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, where Mayan weavers create extraordinary textiles. Machine wash on gentle or hand wash and hang to dry. No need to iron! Measures 23-1/4″ wide across the front and 26″ long from the shoulder. Size M. $110. Includes USPS priority 3-day shipping to lower 48 states.
#4 Rayas Red and Yellow detail
#5. Fine Cotton Gauze Huipil-Tunic, San Pedro Amusgos
#5. SOLD. Fresh and refreshing: a breathable top, simple and elegant. We visited the remote village of San Pedro Amusgos high in the mountains about eight hours from Oaxaca City. Here they weave cotton on back-strap looms just as they have for centuries. This is a beautiful, lightweight collector’s garment with a white-on-white bodice. Called supplementary weft, the design is woven into the cloth, a difficult maneuver by a master weaver. It is not embroidered! This is new and never worn. Perfect over a skirt, jeans, silk or linen slacks. Wash by hand with a mild soap and hang to dry. Measures 23-3/4″ wide x 29″ long. Size M. $200. Includes USPS priority mail shipping to lower 48 states.
#5 detail of bodice, Amusgos tunic
#6. San Juan Chamula Cape, Chiapas
#6. SOLD. Shades of Gray. This is a traditional cape or shawl, called a Chal, hand-woven in the Chiapas village of San Juan Chamula. This particular textile is one of the finest examples of back-strap loom weaving, coming from the Sna Jolobil Cooperative at the Museo Mundo Maya. The wool is hand-carded and spun using the ancient drop-spindle. This is a total made-by-hand garment. The warp threads are cotton and the weft is a soft, pliant natural gray and cream color sheep wool. The edges are strongly woven with very colorful cotton threads to accent the gray body of the garment. Tie it closed with a hand-made tassel and VOILA. Fun to wear or to use as a bed or sofa scarf. Take the tassels off and make a pillow! Measures 24″ square. $145 USD includes USPS 3-day priority mail to anywhere in the lower 48 states.
I will provide the famous Teotitlan del Valle mole amarillo con pollo tamales made by my neighbor Ernestina. She will also make delicious black bean tamales for the vegetarians among us. You bring the beverages.
We want to raise 5,000 pesos.
It costs 400 pesos total to spay or neuter one animal.
We pay 200 pesos to the Tlacolula vets for each animal.
It costs 200 pesos per animal for medicines and surgical supplies.
Our goal is to help keep the animal population under control, cut the number of unwanted animals, and provide education for families and the community.
Usually, there are two clinics a month, every other Thursday, fixing from six to a dozen dogs or a few cats.
This is a privately funded endeavor organized by Merry Foss based on donations.
The village calls her “Maria de los Perros”
Sometimes, when she runs out of funds, she pays out-of-pocket.
She is on a mission and we have a long way to go!
Just a bit too young for surgery … later!
HOW TO GIVE!
We can accept funds through PayPal sent to my account: firstname.lastname@example.org Open PayPal. Choose Send Money to Family and Friends. Click. It will open to a page. Enter send money to email@example.com and the amount. Please be sure it is sent in US dollars. I will then convert to pesos and give your donation to Merry.
Or, use choose the amount you’d like to give below. PayPal will take 3% fee to use these links:
Time for anesthesia, Veterinarian Alma, Erwin’s wife, and her cousin, also a Vet
Merry Foss doing in-take, pink tag = rabies shot given
Medicine and supplies
Rounding up the big dogs
The recovery room
Many of you know that over a year ago, I rescued three dogs living wild in the fields near my house. I took them to Merry to have them spayed (two females) and neutered (one male). Starving Beezy, our poster dog, was taken in by Janie during her visit here. Kalisa snatched him about six months ago, to neuter him, but he had another “home.” But, he showed up to Janie starving and in need. The owner got himself another dog he keeps chained to a post in the field.
We brought Beezy back to health and took him to San Pablo Etla to Friends of Megan animal rescue for adoption. We don’t yet have a fostering/adoption program here in Teotitlan. Merry has her hands full with the clinic, but sometimes she is able to take in dogs in need and tries to find them homes, too.
In June, people came forward with gifts to help Beezy, and I used the extra funds to donate to Friends of Megan and to this clinic, in addition to giving veterinary care to the dog.
Aye, chihuahua preciosa
This is my first life experience having animals! It’s both challenging and rewarding. The most challenging for me is that there are so many animals in need. I wouldn’t call myself a dog person (I’m a textile person), but I cannot turn away.
Thank you for your help and for your participation on Sunday, August 19. Party for the Animals.
Yes, I went on a tour! Envia Foundation offers half-day excursions out to villages where their borrowers live and work. I say borrowers because Envia’s primary goal is to offer microfinancing — interest-free loans — to women entrepreneurs who want to start or expand a small business. Responsible tourism is part of that.
San Miguel del Valle weaver and Envia tour-goer with a tree-of-life tapete
We visit borrowers to see the improvements they have been able to make with Envia’s financial help and to hear their personal stories about how funds and educational support programs have made a difference.
San Miguel del Valle’s Bordado Mary with her magnificent aprons
To qualify for an Envia loan, you must form a group of at least three women and promise to make weekly repayments of at least 20 pesos and on time. Each woman is committed to each other to make this happen. The first loan is for 1,500 pesos, which translates now to about $80 USD. Once this is repaid, the women can qualify for the next level loan. The largest loan is 7,500 pesos, or about $400 USD.
La Alma de la Casa! Our lunch stop in San Miguel del Valle
Envia lends to women because data show they will keep the funds in the family and they are more accountable for repayment. There is a 99.8% repayment rate. In Mexico, the cost to borrow money (interest rates) ranges from 75% and 200%. People are never able to get out of debt if they follow this path.
My tlayuda. More than I could ever eat. Delicious organic corn.
The women present a simple budget to Envia to apply. For most, Spanish is their second language. They speak Zapotec. They don’t need to speak Spanish, though, to receive a loan. They must attend a basic business education course before the funds are given. About 10% of the borrowers have completed middle school (8th grade), and 60% have completed elementary school to the second grade. The loan gives them a leg up to buy materials and supply such as yarn if they are weavers, thread or a sewing machine if they are embroiderers, a stove if they run a small diner (comedor).
Winn and me trying on aprons. Of course, we bought one!
We might think these needs are simple. To many, a small loan can make a big difference.
Young girls start wearing aprons early — part of their identity
We started the day at Envia headquarters at Instituto Cultural Oaxaca, boarded a van and headed out to San Miguel del Valle, a village in the hills above Tlacolula de Matamoros on the way to the Sierra Norte. Here they are known for both their elaborate embroidery and weaving.
Through the screen door at the comedor, San Miguel del Valle
We first had a fantastic homemade lunch at Comedor Teresa. She calls herself the Alma de la Casa, the Soul of the House. We had a choice of chicken or vegetarian dishes: chile relleno, tlayuda or tacos dorados. All delicious.
Weaver sisters in San Miguel del Valle, and husband who also weaves
We then walked to the house of a 25-year-old embroiderer who makes elaborate aprons that must pair with a matching or contrasting under-dress. She gave us a demonstration and we were in awe of her handiwork. She does not sell at the Tlacolula Market. All her customers come to her house.
We next walked uphill to a house near the church, then climbed down a steep stairway to the courtyard of weavers Petronia and Minerva, who now buy their own dyed wool instead of being supplied with a piecework order from a big house in Teotitlan. This gives them more independence, a bit more profit, and saves materials and travel costs. Every little bit helps.
Array of colorful beeswax candles, handmade, some with natural dyes
We arrived in Teotitlan del Valle in late afternoon to visit the house of Sofia and her sister Sara who make traditional beeswax candles, some dyed with natural plant materials and cochineal. Just stunning work.
Sofia starting a candle, 365 layers of wax
Candles dyed with indigo and cochineal, artful to hang
In the same courtyard, we meet family member Ludivina Vasquez Gutierrez who dyes wool with natural plants and cochineal. Her husband is the weaver. They do the entire process by hand, carding, spinning and weaving the Churro wool they buy from the Mixteca region of Oaxaca. We were taken with the quality and very reasonable prices. Perhaps only a dozen weavers work in natural dyes here, though most can give tourists a dye demonstration using cochineal.
A stack of beautiful rugs, all made with natural dyes, Teotitlan del Valle
The tour, which began at 1 p.m. returned the group to Oaxaca after 7 p.m. The cost is 850 pesos which includes transportation and lunch.
Hand-carding wool to spin. Two days labor to fill a basket.
Being a tourist on this tour can’t be beat!
Thanks to Jacki and Ida for being the best tour leaders and translators of language and culture.
The “alternative” Guelaguetza in Santa Maria del Tule started with the crowd-pleasing favorite, the Chinas Oaxaqueñas. I don’t know how the tradition of the name originated. Can anyone out there offer an answer?
Chinas Oaxaqueñas at El Tule Guelaguetza 2018˜
Perhaps it is simply Oaxaca’s version of the Chinas Poblanas of Puebla. Their beaded blouses had origins in the Philippines and were likely imported on Spanish trade galleons coming from Asia to Mexico. Women from the Philippines came to Mexico in this fashion, too.
Goods landed at Acapulco and shipped overland to Veracruz, with a cross-roads stop at Puebla. It is said that the mantilla and rebozo/shawl with hand-knotted fringes had its origins in Asia, too. Spanish women loved this look then. We love it now.
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