So here I am in Puebla trying to explain the artwork I'm looking for and I get blank stares.
I'm fumbling in Spanish. I explain simply, but people think I'm interested in a broom or
straw. I just confuse everyone.
I speak with Ruben Ibarra, the afternoon clerk at the hotel, and I ask him, “Is there a family
in Puebla, artists who use broom straw? I'd like to find them.”
“You mean popodillo ?” he asks. “There's a lady who makes them at the Casa del Artesano.
And there is a shop.” He starts to flip through the telephone directory. Shortly, he's on the
phone, telling me that Mary Capilla is the artist at Casa del Artesano but it's after 6 p.m.
and she's gone home. Next, he's talking to Amabilia Meneses who owns a small store. She
sells popodillo , embroidered dresses, costume jewelry, wooden toys, folk art and a variety
of handmade items. Her shop is closed. She's at home now, but she tells Ruben that she'd
be happy to show us her merchandise if we would like to come to her house.
Ruben called for a taxi and gave the driver a note with her complete address. The taxi took
me into the backside of Puebla. Amabilia lived in a crowded working section of town. The
taxi driver found the neighborhood and the street but couldn't locate the address or the
building. He stopped and asked. He was directed north into a dead-end street. It was great
to know I'm not the only one who gets lost in Mexico.
We turned around and asked again. We were pointed in the right direction but we couldn't
find a single number. The driver stopped at a small grocery and asked. The grocer pointed
to a cluster of buildings. We were close but still lost. Nearby, teenagers were playing bas-
ketball. The driver stopped again and asked. One of the boys ran ahead and pointed toward
As the taxi rolled to a halt, Amabilia opened her door. She lived up to her name, “Ami-
able.” She was short and wore one of the embroidered dresses that her shop sold. Wooden
toys, bobble-headed, bobble-winged turkeys, a variety of children's brightly embroidered
dresses, charm bracelets, and at least a dozen soft dolls looking like Raggedy Ann, with
straw blond hair were arranged on chairs, a coffee table, and the sofa. The dolls were the
only blonds in Puebla. But there were no popodillos , and that's what I had come for.
Amabilia said that she had a couple popodillos in her shop, but she wanted to show us
all her merchandise and maybe we'd like something. She then gave me a bobble-headed,
Of course one cannot accept a gift in these circumstances without making a purchase. So
as I unwrapped my gifts when I arrived home, there were two soft dolls with blond hair