It’s been 19 months since I’ve been to my home in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. In the past several years I’ve been walking, and eating for health (gluten and lactose free). Most of the handwoven clothes I have, mostly from Oaxaca and Chiapas, do not fit! If you wear a size Medium, Large or Extra Large, then look closely below for some beautiful blouses (blusas) and dresses (huipiles). Many rare, most with natural dyes.
How to buy: Tell me the item you want by number. Send me your mailing address. I will send you a PayPal invoice after you ID your choices. The invoice will include the cost of the garment + $12 mailing. If you want more than once piece, I’m happy to combine mailing. I’ll be mailing from Taos, NM when I return after November 15.
In a week we will observe Dia de los Muertos here. In the city, it’s a big party. Many foreign visitors will arrive to eat, drink mezcal and make a rowdy show of Muertos that has become more like Halloween here. In the USA, Halloween — or All Hallows’ Eve — is said to rival Christmas in the amount of money spent on decorations.
in Teotitlan where I live, the small Zapotec village of around 7,000 people, observations are more traditional in keeping with pre-Hispanic culture fused with indigenous roots. My culture tour group will start on October 28, and I’ll be posting as we go along.
Right now, it is chilly and there is a fine rain that required me to search my closet for a wool covering and a long sleeve blouse this morning.
Yesterday, I went to visit Norma Gutiérrez and her daughter Lisette. Husband and father Juvenal died from covid in San Diego earlier this year. He was young and strong. In Spanish (with some translation help from Lisette) we talked about the existential question of life and death: WHY?
is there an answer? I suppose this is why religion exists — to help us accept the inexplicable and to give us hope that we may reunite with a loved one who has departed this world. It’s a perfect lead in to Dia de los Muertos—a mystical tradition that reveres the dead and welcomes them (their) spirit back into our lives each year.
Muertos is a time to honor and remember Juvenal’s life along with so many others list to this virus. We build an altar that includes favorite foods, beverages and the aromas of chocolate a d wild marigold guide the dead back home where they come to life for a day.
Memory plays a critical role. As I sat with Norma and Lisette, I returned to the time I first met Juvenal 16 years ago, when I visited the English class he was teaching. I thought of my own mother and father and wished they were still with me. And, I acknowledged that they are — in spirit.
Norma is a baker and makes delicious organic cakes. I brought back almond flour for her from the US to make me one that is gluten free. It costs $17 for a bag of this flour here! She will be baking for our grand finale tour dinner.
There is no better way to help families as they recover from loss but to sit with them to share their pain, and to support them economically.
Over the years, I have collected handmade garments made by very talented women (and some men) in remote villages I have visited throughout Mexico. As I age, my body has changed. I’ve lost both height and weight. It does me no good to have these in my closet and I’m not starting a museum! All are fairly priced to give you an opportunity to treasure these wonderful pieces I have curated. Many have never been worn. I purchased them to support the artisans. Thank you for looking and considering.
Buy now and I will mail around November 15 when I return to New Mexico. Tell me the item number you want and your mailing address. I will send you a PayPal invoice and add $12 for mailing.
It’s been 19 months since I’ve been to my home in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. In the past several years I’ve been walking, eating for healthfully (gluten and lactose free. Most of the Oaxaca and Chiapas made clothes from my beautiful collection do not fit! I’ve gone from size large or medium to small/extra small.
In the weeks to come, I will be posting these for sale. Buy them now and I will bring them back to the US and mail them to you when I return on November 15 — just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I’m posting a preview of some of these here today. There are many more. So, please look for future postings!
How to buy: Tell me the item you want by number. Send me your mailing address. I will send you a PayPal invoice after you ID your choices. The invoice will include the cost of the garment + $12 mailing. I’ll be mailing from Taos, NM when I return.
More to come in the next days. Thanks for considering!
I’ve arrived. And I’m astounded at the safety precautions in Oaxaca city. I spent Friday in the city. First, I met Carol for brunch at El Tendajon at the corner of Calle Constitución and Pino Suarez. You can’t just walk in! There’s a gate. They check your temperature and ask you to use Ha d da itinerary before entering. Every staff member is properly masked.
i walked there from the La Noria neighborhood, a good mile and-a-half. Along the way, I’d say 1 in 50 were unmasked. Better than the US I think. This is outdoors, on the sidewalks, with a breeze!
After brunch, Carol and I went to the stamp museum at the corner of Reforma and Constitución. No entry without a temperature reading there, either. Hand sanitizer mandatory. The thermometer was some kind of fancy technology gizmo that takes a reading from your wrist.
How safe did I feel? Completely safe. Quite a relief after the frenzy of air travel.
Now, I’m in my little house in the campo in Teotitlan del Valle. The sun is shining and I’ve just gotten back from a walk with the dogs. Yes, they remembered me even though I’ve been gone for 19 months. It’s supposed to rain. Everything here is lush and green. Im
I am sure the farmers are happy.
This morning I went to the village market to buy chicken and vegetables for a Caldo de Pollo. Mask up. Hand sanitizer at the ready. Here, about 1 in 20 are wearing masks. I asked my chicken lady why she didn’t have one. I don’t believe it, she said. Another woman I know said God will protect me. I’m not sure it’s much different here than in Oklahoma or Florida. Although Natividad told me that the majority of the people in the village are vaccinated. So that is reassuring.
We hear that indigenous people have deep suspicions of government, especially the older ones who have suffered discrimination. Even so, I used my hand sanitizer frequently and disinfected the veggies and fruit when I got home, just like I always did.
My host Federico said the virus and Delta variant is waning here, so people are not as afraid as they were before. And, so it goes.
With my mask up, and three vaccines under my belt, I’m not feeling as vulnerable and I can monitor my social distancing and step away as needed.
The elevation here is 5,000 feet, quite a bit less than Taos. With my doggy companions, Tia and Butch, I kept up a good pace going through the agave and corn fields. I’m noticing that more fields are planted with mezcal-producing agave, a cash crop that is bringing high market prices at maturity (seven years for espadín).
For those coming with me and Eric Chávez Santiago for our Day of the Dead Tour, I know you will love being here, just as I am.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma contributes personal essay, How Oaxaca Became Home
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
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Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
Study Tours + Study Abroad are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's greatest artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized. We give you access to where people live and work. Yes, it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited in size for the most personal experience.
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Dye Master Dolores Santiago Arrellanas with son Omar Chavez Santiago, weaver and dyer, Fey y Lola Rugs, Teotitlan del Valle