Tag Archives: Isthmus of Tehuantepec

Video: Direct Call for Help to San Mateo del Mar, Oaxaca, Earthquake Victims

Important message from cultural anthropologist Denise Lechner and medical doctor Anja Widman, who are working with the Ikoots/Huave people in San Mateo del Mar, Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Their coastal village was nearly destroyed after the September 7, 8.2 magnitude earthquake. Please know any gift you make will go to direct aid they will give.

Send me an email if you wish to mail me a check to get funds to them.

And, you might like to see this post I wrote some years ago when I visited San Mateo del Mar and famous backstrap loom weaver Francisca Palafox.

Oaxaca Earthquake Damage Extensive: Urgent Support Needed

I’m putting out another donation call to help the Oaxaca earthquake victims. The situation is dire along Oaxaca’s southern coast and particularly in the city of Juchitan de Zaragoza.

click here to watch BBC video of earthquake devastation

There are two ways to donate that I know your gifts will go directly to the people in need. They are trusted to know where the funds can be used.

  1.  To Francisco Toledo Foundation   Francisco Toledo’s Foundation IAGO (Instituto Artes Graficas de Oaxaca) https://www.paypal.me/donativoistmo
  2. To anthropologist Denise Lechner who is working in the field https://www.paypal.me/deniselechner

Francisco Toledo is a renown Oaxaca artist-activist who was born and raised in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, that suffered the most severed earthquake damage.

Denise Lechner is a personal friend who has worked with artisan communities along the coast of Oaxaca for years. Go to her Facebook page to see photos of the affected areas.

 Report From Barbara Cleaver, Hotel Santa Fe, Puerto Escondido

Our hotel in Puerto has been one of the gathering places for donations: Denise Lechner has been on top of encouraging donations, and then driving them to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

We too have donated, both in money and in supplies, and will do more.
So much damage! In Tehuantepec, Chiapa de Corzo, up in Mixe country….but Juchitan de Zaragoza is a disaster zone.

I encourage everyone that can give anything, to do so. Please.
Thank you.

Friends, if everyone who reads this sends something ( 5$/ 20$/ more if you can afford it), it would make a huge difference.

Some places have even lost access to water, as wells have collapsed or been buried by rubble. This is the largest earthquake to hit Mexico in 100 years…please help if you possibly can.

The news of the extent of the damage of this earthquake is overshadowed by the drama of the terrible hurricanes … but Mexico needs help.

Something on the order of 1,000 houses have been damaged in Juchitan, along with public buildings.

Bad damage ( and slow help ), with many houses down, in San Mateo del Mar (an important weaving village on the coast — near Laguna Superior on the map). I have not yet heard from San Francisco del Mar.

Houses rendered uninhabitable in Tehuantepec; I don’t know how many because it is still hard to get through to anyone, but we were able to talk to one friend. Her wonderful old house is probably beyond repair and she says others, too.

Power out/ many ( but not all) phones out.

Chiapa de Corzo, the wonderful old fountain from the 1500’s, and some houses; again, I don’t know how much.

So many places!

The more I hear, the worse it gets…

We sent supplies with Denise and now we are going to send money so she can buy what she sees is needed.

You can tell your people to have full confidence in Denise..I certainly do.


It was a huge long quake, and there have been so many aftershocks, off Chiapas and off Salina Cruz.

Thank you for putting the information out there, Norma!

Huipils: Tehuana-Juchitan Clothing For Sale

I bought these lovely huipiles last year during a visit to Tehuantepec and Juchitan.  They are all handmade and embroidered by either machine or by hand.  You will love the colors and the elegant flowing skirts (very flattering).  Machine stitched designs are typical of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec style of clothing.  The sizes can fit medium to extra large because the waistbands have ties that are adjustable.  If the blouse is a little too big, just run a seam up both sides to take it in — so simple.  I would recommend dry cleaning because of the handwork.  They are $125 USD each (plus shipping) and I will accept a personal check or PayPal. Send me an email to purchase:  normahawthorne@mac.com

Outfit #1:  Orange Polka Dots.  The top is hand and machine embroidered on a tiny polka dot background.  The skirt is a contrasting large polka dot design.  Very fun.  The gored flowing skirt is 33″ long and the waistband is 36″ around but can wrap smaller with the long ties — very adjustable.  The top is lined and is 22″ long from the shoulder seam and 24″ across side seam to side seam.  The fabric feels like cotton or a cotton and poly blend.  $125USD.

Outfit #2:  Red Floral with Black Stars and Yellow Bodice.  Flowing skirt is sheer poly-silk fabric, 37″ long with an adjustable 36″ tie waistband as described in skirt #1.  Top is lined and is 22″ long and 24″ wide from side seam to side seam.  A very dressy outfit.  $125 USD.

Outfit #3:  Green Floral with Tan and White Embroidered Bodice.  Flowing skirt is 37′ long with 36″ adjustable tie waistband.  Top is lined and is 22″ long and 24″ wide from seam to seam.  $125 USD.

Muxes of Juchitan, Oaxaca

There is an innate cultural acceptance — nay, welcoming — of homosexuality in Oaxaca that is integral to the Zapotec community.   Indigenous families throughout the Oaxaca state believe that boys who choose female identity and attributes have special powers.  I have met many lesbian women, especially expatriates living in Oaxaca who find great comfort and acceptance for their lifestyle.  It is no big deal — just part of life.  Much has been written by anthropologists and sociologists about Zapotec sexual identity and I am not an expert.  So, I would refer you to other sources if you’d like to know more.  Meanwhile, the link above takes you to a NY Times story published on December 7, 2009 that has a bit of explanation.  The Muxes of Juchitan, Oaxaca

Juchitan is at the apex of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, six hours south of Oaxaca city by bus through a treacherous mountain highway on the way to Chiapas and Guatemala.  Zapotec rulers came here to build a stronghold against and to escape the Aztecs and it was the center of political life.  From Juchitan it is easy to get to the coast — to Huatulco, Puerto Angel and Puerto Escondido.  The fabulous embroidered huipiles resplendant with huge floral patterns are the hallmark of Juchitan women, who are famous for their strength and independence and beauty.