Sunday, May 4, 2014


Our days are typically full of color and in point, our impromptu visit to our local tianguis in Ajijic, (on Wednesdays) where we spotted a Huichol merchant, working and selling his beautiful, symbolic work.  I'm always mesmerized by their clothing, the images, colors and significance.  If this is their way of honoring the sacred in their culture, we should all be so beautiful.

Huichol Vendor


Pitayas or Pitahayas (sometimes know as Dragon Fruit) abound presently in our little part of the world. The fruit comes from a cactus plant (Familia: Cactaceae).  Their colors are vibrant, varied, luscious as is their taste.  Beneficial as a digestive, sometimes used as a calming food, it can also help with insomnia and nervous conditions.

After our tianguis visit, we were to visit the other side of Lake Chapala, traveling through the major town of Jocotepec to the smaller towns of San Pedro Tesistan, San Cristobal Zapotitlan, San Luis Soyatlan, Tuxcueca and Tizapan.

Magical Entrance to Ameyalko Tamoachan Tlalolcan

Our friends, who live on the south side of Lake Chapala, invited us for a visit and general orientation to their side of the lake.  The south side of the lake is more tranquil, with large expanses of land and vistas. We found a calming energy, more traditional indigenous towns and an amazing agroecological cooperative on the river dividing the states of Jalisco and Michoacan, Mexico.

The river is flanked by conifers and is constantly flowing...

Ameyalko Tamoachan Tlalolcan
Cooperative Agroecologica
Ejido La Brenia
Municipio Marcos Castellano, Michoacan
Espacio En Transicion

Vista of the "shire" as our friends call the cooperative

Our host Jose, is a permaculturalist, herbal healer and amazing spirit

Temescal In Progress

Along with other founding members, volunteer workers and friends of the cooperative Jose has "terra formed" the land into a welcoming, sustainable, organic oasis.

Jose, Brad, Wil y Draya

Friends - Brad, pups, Pinta, Draya y Will

Natural Spring

During our stroll we stopped at the spring that is the "eye of the water" and drank heartily.  I've very rarely had the opportunity to taste water at its was delicious!

Ojo De Agua

Drum Oven

Jose has so many projects in the works at the cooperative...that I found his calm manner can such a tranquil soul accomplish so much?  One of his projects is to create a drum oven.  The oven will be installed and surrounded by brick helping to insulate and streamline cooking.

The first residence at the cooperative is a wonderful home, made of local materials in sustainable manner. Its owners are transitioning to live full time at the cooperative.

First Residence

The land is lush with fruit trees, vegetable growth and ritual areas

Tools Of The Trade

I asked Jose what he needed to help continue his work....and not surprisingly, his answer was "A balance of resources...people power, materials and funds to purchase/obtain what we need.  Without this balance you can have many resources in one area and none in others and not see progress.  The key is balance."

South Side, High Rise, Bee Condo Units

Our chariot for the day....full cab...full bed...4 x 4 diesel power

South Side Vista

South Side Home

Weaving Week In Axixic - Semana Del Tejido En Axixic

Fco. in the "castillo" studio

When one steps outside one's doorstep in Mexico, one never really knows what they will find.  My neighbors build traditional "castillos" or Mexican firework displays.  Their home is their work studio, as well as the sidewalk and street.  This being Pascua or Easter week, the firework displays are in great demand...and a central figure in the parades and celebrations is the Judas figure.

Judas Figures

Judas Figure y Fco.

And for Easter week we hosted the first Weaving Week In Axixic festival...a week of carding, spinning, dyeing and weaving demonstrations.
The reason for the festival was to bring together master weavers from Oaxaca and California in Ajijic to share their experiences and knowledge with each other and to demonstrate to the local community their art/craft thereby communicating the value of this work to the general public.

The areas of Ajijic and Jocotepec were important weaving centers, at one time, and the art of weaving has been slowly disappearing from the areas throughout the centuries.  By providing demonstrations and exhibits of the processes of weaving we hoped to preserve this important, ancient craft.  Maestros Lucio y Antonietta had centuries old dyeing techniques to share with Brad and the Ajijic community.

We are fortunate to have master weavers Lucio y Antoinetta Ruiz, from Oaxaca, in our small town.

Lucio at work in Ajijic Plaza

Oaxacan traditional weavers, Lucio and Antonieta Ruiz, make Zapotec tapetes or rugs. Their work is famous throughout Mexico.  The weavers live in Teotitlan del Valle in the Oaxaca  Valley.  Their town lies 350 miles south of Mexico City.

Nopal Pad with Cochinilla

The impressive red colors that Lucio y Antoinetta dye come from the Cochinilla insect, that lives on the pads of the Nopal cactus plant.

Lucio Carding

Lucio y Jose Luis Build The Loom

Pericone Dyed (yellow) and Natural Colored Wool Yarns

The weaving traditions of Mexico are a national treasure.  The Zapotecs of Teotitlan del Valle are famous and respected for their determination to maintain their traditional culture while adapting to the realities of the modern world.

Natural dyes, such as the deep indigo blues and bright cochineal reds, are derived from plants, minerals and insects. Some weavers continue the laborious and ancient alchemy of natural dyes.

Both men and women card, spin and dye the wool and families typically pass on their weaving skills and particular styles to their children. The beautiful colors, patterns and designs created by the Zapotecs are a unique mixture of cultural tradition, family innovation, customer request and artistic exploration.

Lucio Watching Antoinetta Grind Cochinilla

Ground Cochinilla 

Brad Spinning (mesmerizing) Passersby

The Zapotecs live in hundreds of villages throughout the Oaxaca Valley.  While the federal government of Mexico provides and runs free schools in the villages, it has no political authority within them.  Each village functions as an autonomous unit.  In Teotitlan all important communal decisions are made by its municipal committee led by a headman, according to ancient custom.

Lalo and Brad Share Weaving Yarns

Brad Examining a Oaxacan Spinning Wheel (Rueca)

Lucio Weaving

Some of Maestro Lucio's Natural Dyed Wool Yarns

Antoinetta y Lucio Hang Their Treasures

Vendors from Michoacan Are Fascinated With Brad's Carding

Lucio Spinning

Finally the weaver attaches the strands of washed wool to the loom. The colored yarns will be woven across these white yarns. 

Weaving a tapete is complicated.  It takes almost a week just to prepare the wool.

First the wool is washed to remove dirt and oil.  The wool is then carded and spun.  Next the wool is cooked in a big pot of boiling water and dye.  Each color requires a different pot of dye. The dyed yarn is then hung in the sun to dry.  

Later each color must be untangled and wound onto spools, ready for weaving.

Maestro Lucio Grinding Anil (Indigo)

Indigo Dyed Wool Yarn

All Our Friends Enjoyed The Week Long Afternoon Demonstrations

Julian (our Huichol friend) Shares His Info With Us

Brad y La Maestra Antoinetta Confer

Carding Can Be Fun!

Cochinilla Dye Bath

Fco. Surrounded by Beauty...Can Life Get Any Better Than This?

Our other friend, Cresencio, makes these amazing baskets....Hanna sits with 
the basket Cresencio made and delivered to me that day.

My brother Paco meets Local Celebrity Vino Blanco

Recycled Bottle Raft Project

Another dream made reality was our recycled bottle raft.  Having a plastics recycle center helps in obtaining the needed bottles.  Brad had been collecting just the right bottles for this project...and this week, we launched!

Brad With Parts

Things Starting To Come Together

Stabilizers Are A Good Idea

Capt. Fco. Ready To Launch

So we did (launch)!  We've been polling our way across the lake since....happy with ver. 1.0  Brad is already redefining the design and visualizing improvements for ver. 2.0