Walk with the
weavers! The Zapotec community of Teotitlán
del Valle (elevation: 1,670 meters or 5,500 feet) is world-famous
for production of colorful wool rugs (laadi in the local
To address the problem of declining sales and tourism
to individual weaver homes, Planeta.com is collaborating with artisans
and the local community museum to connect weavers and visitors.
Weavers would like more opportunities for direct sales
to individual travelers and options for selling online. Some group
tours charge high commissions (up to 40%) and taxi drivers hired
City sometimes return to the village, insisting on a commission.
"It's not fair," said one weaver. "These
people are asking to be paid twice, once by the travelers, then
Responsible travelers should pay attention and when
possible, arrange an extended tour that visits more than one family
and that includes cultural immersion with visits to the community
museum, market and church.
One of the advantages of a weaver-led tour is that
the process of rug creation is shown to the visitor. Visitors have
the opportunity to try their hands at carding, spinning, and weaving.
Weavers also describe and demonstrate the process of using natural
dyes. Among the natural materials used are pericon, cuatle and
nuez criolla. Cochinilla and indigo dyes are more expensive.
Visits also showcase family involvement. The process
of making a weaving involves several generations.
Some of the weavers like to experiment with other
sorts of wool. Some it it may be imported. If that matters to you
as a buyer, ask where the wool comes from.
For those buying a treasured rug or other weaving,
the sales benefit travelers with lower prices and weavers with higher
income. Think smart, travel slow!
Bartering expense of ingredients for dyes cochinilla
indigo length of time required to weave a rug family income money
into the local economy by eating in the town tipping
Joining the first walk in April 2006 were ten people,
ranging in age from 6-60. Visitors were led to workshops by weavers
and everyone agreed it was a great way to spend the day. A few rugs
were purchased and an agreement was made to continue the tours.
However, the social crisis of 2006-2007 led to a drastic decline
in tourism visits and the formal ititiative was postponed.
The second round of tours were conducted on January
23 and 30, 2008 part of the
Rural Tourism Fair. There were fewer participants (six the first
week, tk the second) but more rugs were purchased.
Beyond the tour, Planeta.com is working to create
guide and directory
of weavers. Working with weavers, we are locating their workshops
Planeta.com is also a financial supporter and enthusiastic
fan of Oaxaca Amigos:
English Classes for Community Guides and Rural Artisans.