I bring one giant suitcase with me filled with good, clean used clothing for infants, children, and women size 10 and under. Shoes, women’s size 6 and under, are useful, too. I fill it to the max — 50 lbs. worth! and when I arrive we put out the word. I get these clothes by sending an email out to my workplace and friends. I usually get to the quota within a couple of days! If you are interested in doing this, send an email to Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll let you know who to make contact with in Teotitlan for distributing the needed clothing. Annie and friends have a women and family support project going.
In the outside pocket of the suitcase I pack bubble wrap and clear packing tape. If I don’t have enough, I get more bubble from Mailboxes, Etc. in Oaxaca City, where it is cheaper that Office Depot. (Yes, they’re both there.)
Okay, so now I have an empty suitcase and can fill it up with whatever I buy. To pack the fragile items securely, I go to the Teotitlan or Tlacalula market and buy a sturdy bamboo woven basket without handle with a diameter and depth to fit the size of my suitcase (this one is a monster). Then I buy a bamboo woven “tray” that is used all over the Oaxaca Valley for serving and displaying. I turn this upside down and use it for the lid. After I’ve packed all the fragile stuff inside, wrapping everything well in bubble, I secure the “lid” to the basket base with the tape, wrapping the tape multiple times around the vertical circumference for a tight fit. If I’ve bought textiles, I put them under the basket, and between the lid of the suitcase and the lid of the basket for cushioning. I have used this technique repeatedly with much success for pottery, carved wood alebrijes, and other fragile items. This last time, my Dolores Porras clay sculpture and masks came through perfectly, as did the pottery from the Aguilar sisters, and the carved animalitos from Jacobo Angeles and Justo Xuana.