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.
I’m double masked. First, an N95 then covered with my handmade cloth mask made at the height if the pandemic by friend Sam Robbins. (She makes beautiful masks because she is a quilter.)
Do I feel more secure? With my third Pfizer booster and a flu vaccine, I’m still feeling jittery and a bit anxious. I asked the woman behind me in the security line to step back to maintain distance. No one else seemed to care. Everyone else was jammed up in the line.
It looked like it always did traveling before Covid. Lots of close contact. The only difference was that everyone was wearing face coverings, though a few had masks drooping below nostrils.
At age 75, one can go through security and keep on shoes and light jackets. Easy peasy, I thought. Except that before going through the metal detector, I was asked to remove my belt and Teotitlan woven quechquemitl (short poncho). Upon exit of the detector, because areas lit up on the x-ray, I was asked to remove my shoes and undergo the patdown. Shoes had to go back through the x-ray.
Leave plenty of time! I got to the airport 2 hours before flight departure.
Be patient. Ask for what you need — like asking people to step away.
it’s a full flight from ABQ to Houston. We will see how that goes!
In a nod to Mexican Independence Day today, and in appreciation for all that Mexico has given us, me thinks the answer to this question is MEXICO. However, New Mexico thinks otherwise. It’s newest license plate proclaims this as truth and features big red and green chili peppers next to the identity number of the plate and the slogan: New Mexico, Chili Capital of the World. It’s true, New Mexico was once a part of Mexico and before that New Spain. Spanish and Mexican roots run deep here. So we don’t get confused, the license plate here also says, New Mexico, USA.
The origin of the chili pepper is clear. The indigenous peoples of Mexico had fully domesticated chili peppers far earlier than 1492 and the arrival of Columbus in the Americas. Archaeologists date the origin of chilis back to 5000 BC in the country’s Tehuacán Valley. The word “chili” can be credited to Nahuatl, an Aztec language from which many modern terms are derived, such as chocolatl and tomatl. The history of chili is a fascinating read.
There are over 60 types of chilis that claim Mexican origins. These include jalapeño, habanero, poblano, Anaheim, and more. These are the names for fresh chilis. Once they are dried, they take on a different identity because the flavor changes. For example, the chilaca chili, rarely used in its fresh form, becomes chili pasilla when dried, a staple of Oaxaca mole sauce. For more about biodiversity and origins, click here. For a varietal explanation, click here and here.
Here in New Mexico, chili pepper history comes much later. By all accounts, seeds were introduced by the Spanish in the late 1500’s to many of the pueblos and by the early 1600’s, became an important cultivar to use in southwest cuisine. Chili, as in the stew that combines spicy chili pepper flavor, meat, onions and tomatoes, traces its origins to Texas and rapidly spread throughout the region. Adaptations in the Midwest added beans and fat. Have you ever been to a chili cook-off?
Now is the season for roasting Hatch Chili in New Mexico.
The Hatch Chili is uniquely New Mexican, first cross-bred in Northern New Mexico in the early 1900’s by a horticulturalist wanting a milder version of jalapeño. It is available in August and September, depending on the weather. This short window of buying and eating opportunity gives it a caché of being rare and has taken on a mystique of desirability. There is a Hatch Chili frenzy here now. In front of the Taos Albertson’s and Smith’s supermarket, on the historic plaza, in the Walmart parking lot, I see outdoor roasters fueled by propane, with serious young men loading and tending the roasting bins. Bags of fresh roasted Hatch Chilis are offered for sale inside. The aroma of smokey chili goodness fills the air, invades naval passages, causes eyes to tear if you get too close.
Does the Hatch Chili make New Mexico the Chili Capital of the World? Not likely. However, I concede, my adopted state is the Hatch Chili Capital of the World, and I salute her for that. Hatch Chili pancakes anyone?
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma contributes personal essay, How Oaxaca Became Home
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
Click image to order yours!
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