Nearly every Teotitlán house is a mini- factory where people card, spin, and color wool, often using hand-gathered natural dyes. Each step of wool preparation is laborious; obtaining pure water is even a chore—families typically spend two days a week collecting it from mountain springs. The weaving, on traditional hand looms, is the final, satisfying part of the process.
Visiting the workshop-stores should be first on your itinerary. The home workshops, once confined to the town center, now sprinkle nearly the entire entrance road. Be sure not to miss the shop of renowned master Isaac (“Bug in the Rug”) Vasquez (tel. 951/514-4122, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily), on the right a few blocks before the town center at Juárez 244, or on main cross-street Hidalgo, number 30 (turn left at the town center).
Also, be certain to look inside the store of the cooperative shop Mujeres Que Tejan (Women Who Weave, tel. 951/166-6174, joker213 [at] brownpride [dot] com). The shop is managed by Josefina Jiménez and displays the fine for-sale woven products of 28 women weavers. Find it on the road into town, on the right side, at Juárez (old address number 86, new number 162) about a quarter-mile (0.5 km) from Highway 190.
The best weaving is generally the densest, typically packing in about 45 strands per inch (18 strands per centimeter); ordinary weaving incorporates about half that. Please don’t bargain too hard. Even the highest prices typically bring the weavers less than a dollar an hour for their labor.
Another good place to see weavers at work is the workshop-store-restaurant-hotel El Descanso (Juárez 51), at the town-center corner of Juárez and Hidalgo.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition