March 8, 2011 on 2:37 pm

The first thought entering my mind upon descending the plane onto the wet tarmac was “El Olor de Miel.” The smell of honey. I’m back in Mexico for the first time in 6 years, returning to the village where I learned to speak Spanish at 5, play basketball at 10, and drive a Datsun at 15. Teotitlan del Valle is renowned by anthropologists and tourists alike as the quintessential Mexican Indian village, unique in it’s artistic & cultural Zapotec weaving heritage. For me, Teotitlan is the home of 5 families whose artistry enabled my my family and theres to simultaneously lift ourselves out of our single room cabins and adobe huts into relatively unprecedented levels of prosperity and cooperation during the 1980s and 1990s; their homes are here in Oaxaca, in the valley of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec , and mine is on the edge of the high country in Colorado.

My parents made over 70 trips from Boulder to Teotitlan del Valle over the past 30 years and were able to grow Marisol Imports, Inc. from a tiny rug & fabric store into a well known home furnishings company operating throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Now, as we face this new era of global economic crisis and related challenges, I am proud to be back in the village, alone, working directly with the sons and daughters of the original 5 families who made this town so prosperous for the previous generations, and considering what the future holds for traditional artisans and small business people.

 

We’re off to a fantastic start. There’s something about getting away from the bustle of the new American lifestyle with it’s constant communication and multiple multi-tasking add nauseum, and focusing on like, 2 things at a time rather than 5. This deep in Mexico, we are over 1000 miles away from the violence in Ciudad Juarez, people speak Zapotec and Spanish, and I’m slowly remembering to switch from our bizarre American system of measurement back to worldwide Metric. My good friend, Ismael Gutierrez and myself, both 28, are bringing the work of our fathers, Dennis Crawford & Genaro Gutierrez, slowly into the 21st century as we spend hours en la casa reviewing rug designs, taking photographs, attempting to sync our computer operations through anticuated PC computers and state of the art HP and Mac laptops, battling formating between Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Picture Manager, HP Photosmare, iPhoto and the Windows Photo Gallery, and discovering how to share our work through Yahoo, Google, WordPress, and the fascinating world of online social media.

Sobre todo, above all, it is the lasting power of friendship and language that is resonating the most in my mind tonight. As Genaro said as we made our way from the turmoil of the city into the familiarity of the village, catching up on the chisme y noticias, the gossip and news, the goings on of our families and the world, “Solo hay una vida” he says. “Tienes que prestar atencion.”

Ismael Gutierrez

 

 

 

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