Monthly Archives: April 2024

Traveling in Chiapas: Charmed, I’m Sure

My friend Chris Clark writes a blog called Color in the Streets, and just reported on her recent trip to Chiapas with us in February 2024. Chris lives in Ajijic, on Lake Chapala, in the Mexican state of Jalisco. She talks about how this was a dream come true trip that she had wanted to go on with us since moving to Mexico almost six years ago.

I met Chris when we were both living in North Carolina and we became instant friends. She is selling her home in Ajijic and returning there to be with family and friends since her partner Ben died almost two years ago. Anyone want a beautiful home with lake view, casita and pool?

Chris offers us an in-depth, deep dive into San Cristobal de las Casas, a Spanish colonial Pueblo Magico that is in the highlands and our base during our exploration of textile villages and markets. Chris covers it all: restaurants and delicious food, recommended books that explore the weaving culture and techniques, and the mish-mash Santo Domingo market where you can find anything from high quality amber and textiles to imported schlock from China.

The tour is really an educational immersion for every traveler to be able to identify quality work and fair prices, as well as to meet makers where they live and work. What Chris does is give us her personal impressions of the experience. This includes a discussion about cultural appropriation and contrasting this with what it means to wear indigenous made clothing that we call cultural appreciation.

I hope you have a chance to read Chris’ blog and look at her exceptional photos. If you want to come with us to Chiapas in 2026, please sent us an email expressing your interest. We are building a list of people to give first notice.

Click here for Color in the Streets Blog

Shop Open! New Blusas, Baskets, More

We have just returned to the USA from Oaxaca. From January through March we traveled the Costa Chica along the Oaxaca coast, the highlands of Chiapas, Oaxaca’s Mixteca Alta, and the folk art villages around Lake Patzcuaro, Michoacan, to source some of the finest clothing and craft. Each of the 123 items in the shop are personally curated by Norma Schafer. Plus, we feature naturally dyed wool tapestry woven rugs made by Oaxaca Cultural Navigator partner Eric Chavez Santiago. Norma and Eric are committed to supporting artisans to encourage them to continue to be makers rather than laborers or migrants. When you make a purchase, you know that your support is going directly to the people who create and innovate. You become a cultural appreciator when you purchase artisan made.

P.S. Mother’s Day is coming up. Gift yourself or give a gift to the favorite woman in your life.

Use your credit card or PayPal to purchase. No fees to you! Here are a few of the new items in the shop, many are perfect for spring and summer dressing, comfortable, lightweight linen and cotton. We hope you take a moment to browse the collection.


One of the sublime pleasures of living in Mexico is being able to savor her homemade chocolate. Chocolate, the word, comes from the Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. In its original tongue, it is spelled Xocolatl, pronounced show-koh-lah-tel. In reality, the t and the l in the final syllable are slammed together, but for our purposes, this transliteration will do. T

To keep Mexico with me while I am in the USA, I like to prepare hot chocolate with brewed coffee — a mix of about 1/4 to 1/3 hot chocolate and the rest coffee that, of course, I bring back from Oaxaca’s Mixteca Alta or from the Chiapas highlands. Chiapas is known for her coffee plantations and her chocolate beans, which are exported all over Mexico and sometimes beyond. The Spanish brought coffee beans to Mexico in the 1700’s and started cultivating it in Veracruz, likely with slaves from Africa who also worked the sugar cane fields.

Every family all over the country has their own recipe for making chocolate. Usual ingredients are vanilla, cinnamon, sugar or panela. Maybe one family might add a bit of chile for throat tickler. Sometimes, they will add almonds, too. But, the primary ingredients are toasted cacao beans, native to Mexico and used as money or barter in pre-Hispanic times. The chocolate maker will buy the raw cacao beans in the market, take them home and toast them on the comal over an open fire, stirring with a brush so they toast evenly. Then, she will take all of these ingredients to the molina in the proportions preferred by each family.

Ibarra and Abuelita and Mayordomo brands just don’t do it, but if you are hard-pressed to find Mexican chocolate and these are the only available, then go for it. Your local Mexican market might have other options.

The chocolate I’m using today was made in Xochistlahuaca, Guerrero. I bought it from the family who prepared a delicious homemade lunch for our group during our visit to Tejadoras Flores de la Llanura weaving cooperative. What I love about this chocolate is that it has very little (or no) sugar. Each piece of chocolate, formed like an oblong ball or bola, is wrapped in a hierba buena leaf. The presentation is beautiful. The chocolate delicious. I add sugar to taste.

Of course, chocolate is super healthy, with anti-inflammatory properties, especially good for those of us as we age, and it is excellent as a cup of hot chocolate on its own. Remember: In Mexico, we drink hot chocolate with water, never adding milk! In Oaxaca, we dunk a concha into hot chocolate for breakfast or for a pre-bedtime snack.

Come with us in January 2025 on the Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour, and buy your own authentically made Mexican chocolate!

Come Join Me! WARP Annual Textile Conference 2024 in Colorado

WARP stands for Weave a Real Peace. I have been a member since 2017 when I helped organize their international conference in Oaxaca, and provided most of the programming. I love this organization. It is committed to social and economic justice for artisans all over the world. The women and men who attend are deeply involved in the textile world as makers and supporters. Come to Golden, Colorado this spring. The conference is May 15-18. It is a perfect opportunity to network, learn, and expand your textile friendship circle.

This year, the conference program features an excellent lineup of speakers, starting with keynote Lynda Teller Pete, who is a Navajo weaver and co-author of Spider Woman’s Children.  She is from Two Grey Hills community where I traveled to last October, and marveled at the weaving acumen there.

Other speakers include: Donna Brown, founder of the Janice Ford Memorial Dye Garden, acclaimed Colcha Embroidery artist Julia Gomez, and more.

In addition to speakers from the region’s textile community, there are a number of fun networking opportunities including the annual Welcome Circle, live auction and fashion show, international vendor marketplace, and discussion groups. 

In addition to the full meeting registration rate, day rates and student rates are also available. You can learn more and register at

I hope to see you there! And, please share this post with anyone interested in textiles and folk art.

Oaxaca to New Mexico, a Contrast

I arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Thursday afternoon. After getting up at three o’clock in the morning to get in the taxi at four o’clock to arrive at the airport forty-five minutes later, I’d say the trip was pretty easy. It was a mere six hours plus from Oaxaca through Houston to get here, with the added pleasure of going through immigration and customs.

Where have you been? the agent asked. When I answered, we engaged in a four minute conversation about the beauty of Oaxaca and how much he wanted to visit. I encouraged him. The next question was, Are you bringing in any fruit, vegetables, or alcohol?

Yes, I answered, two bottles of mezcal for my son. He smiled and waved me through.

When I left Oaxaca, it was over ninety degrees, oppressively hot, and this reaffirmed how important it is to stay sheltered. By nine in the evening, the house was hotter than outside, and I stayed under the palapa outdoors until it cooled off enough to climb in bed with all the windows open and two fans providing air movement.

Butch and Tia, my two dogs, were splayed on the patio under the palapa for eighteen hours, their underbellies on the cool concrete, keeping their body temperatures regulated. Fur coats are not required for this level of heat.

In the last week I was there, all we talked about was the heat, how to stay cool, and the alarming drought.

It hasn’t rained much in the last two years. My neighbors are drilling wells to get water to their corn fields. I read last week that the temperatures were eleven degrees above normal. Delivery of drinking and household water was delayed by as much as two to three weeks. I went to the beauty salon in the city to get my hair washed so I wouldn’t use water unnecessarily and deplete the levels in my tinaco (rooftop water tank). The honest truth was that I was looking forward to returning to New Mexico for some cooler air, and I got it.

I’m back in Taos where daytime temps are hovering in the low-fifties, and at night it’s getting down to a delightful twenty-six degrees. Snuggling under a pile of blankets is heaven after Oaxaca’s oppressive heat. One marvel of returning in early spring is that I can still enjoy the view of Taos Mountain still covered with a bit of snow.

Now, I’m hunkering down to do my taxes and then take care of medical appointments in preparation for late May right knee replacement. I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, Shop Oaxaca Culture should open up by early next week. We have lots of beautiful clothing, baskets, and folk art from everywhere: The Oaxaca Coast, Michoacan, Chiapas, and the Mixteca Alta. Stay tuned for shop opening announcement.