A dense mist embraced the early morning in El 20. All together, we proceeded along the principal street of the village towards south, into the forest. The path took us to the fields harvested by the men of the community. We arrived at a small bridge, where the path meets a river. This small river runs throughout the village, a vein that provides water to the fields and the forest towards south. Many of us expected a bigger basin in which they could bathe. During our stay in El 20, we realized pretty soon how water is a crucial resource for the community.
After breakfast me and Aura proceeded mapping the community, entering some Talleres, the artisan’s workshops, usually adjacent or included in the house. Augustin told us how he started the art of weaving hammocks. He was injured and couldn’t walk for 7 years, therefore couldn’t continue his work. Therefore, his wife taught him the basic technique of weaving hammocks, as many women here in the community still do. But his work is now different from the others’, he tried out and invented many different techniques, designing new patterns. He proudly displayed a catalogue where he collected and categorized the different stitches and patterns he created. The details and the amount of original designs he was able to study was impressive: over 35 different patterns including geometrical ones and others inspired by the elements of the surroundings as birds, dogs, fishes and palm trees.
Proceeding with mapping the community by walking through all the streets, Aura introduced me to Guadalupe, a very nice and honest woman. The tenderness of her and her family melted my heart. While the kids and the dogs were playing around, she patiently showed us the process through which she and her husband Pedro sculpt objects from local orange limestone by hand, with very few tools. They are the only couple making stone work in the community, their designs are amazingly elegant, made by clean and harmonious lines. She was very surprised and proud to know that I knew how to knit and craft everyday objects, so that looked back at her husband for sharing the emotion.
In the meantime, Gabo’s workshop about recycling plastic was taking place in another Taller, where a three generations of women work together to collect seeds and feathers to create beautiful jewellery. The workshop was a great opportunity to engage “hands-on” with the community and share experience and know-how. The grandmother was attentively observing all the movements of the girls participating in the creation of wallets from plastic bags. She had a glint of excitement and joy in her eyes.
In the afternoon we visited the beekeepers of the Malipoina bees, a group only formed by autodidact women of the community that devote their energy to the preservation of this native species of honey bee. They described and showed us the specific characteristics of the bees, the process and their part in it.
At the end of the day we were all reunited in the library to watch Antti’s amazing documentary “Lo que más amas – Love the Most” filmed during his visits around Mexico.
Even though the day ran fast, it was full of new surprises and felt fulfilling. I reflected on how much love I observed and perceived during that single day, in the work of the artisans, in their families and in their loyalty to nature.