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Shopping in Mexico
I hadn't thought about it, I mean about all the Mexican treasures that decorate my home. It
was my granddaughter Isabela who mentioned it. Well, she didn't exactly mention it to me,
she told her teacher.
They were studying the family in second grade (you know how important it is to build val-
ues), and the teacher asked the students to write what they liked about visiting their grand-
Isabela wrote, "I really love my grandpa because he has a lot of Mexican art." She also
mentioned our trips for ice cream and wrote that she liked to visit grandma 'cause grandma
lets her watch television. That's another topic, but as for her interest in my decorations, I
wasn't even aware that she had noticed.
My taste runs to bright and colorful. Folk art, handcrafts, masks, ceramics that gleam with
swirls of color: these are items I enjoy. And my second grader likes them too.
So I'm in Mexico, in Puebla, a beautiful colonial city south of Mexico City on the way to
Veracruz. I'm rummaging around the Plaza de los Sapos, where they have the weekend an-
tique and flea market, and it's jammed. As I pick up some old piece of iron that looks like a
lion head doorknocker, I start thinking about where I purchased all those things that Isabela
likes and where I'd recommend a traveler shop.
I've bought pottery directly from the artisans in Mata Ortiz. The whole town has prospered
because Juan Quezada revived Paquimé-styled pots. But buying from the maker and getting
a picture really makes the piece special. Mata Ortiz is in Northern Mexico, Chihuahua, near
Casas Grandes and the pots, decorated, geometrically stylized, are beautiful.
I've purchased silver items, silver angels and a pitcher shaped like a duck where the beak
is the spout, from the Castillos. They're a family of silversmiths who have their shop just
outside of Taxco.
It's a short ride in a taxi, but you get a tour of the workshop and see
craftsmen at work.
In Tonala, it's now part of Guadalajara, I once asked the local tourist office if I could see
how papier-mâché was made, and I got a personal introduction and guided tour. I also got a
large green and yellow parrot that swings overhead in my dining room. I never have to feed
it, and it never makes a mess. I'll have to ask Isabela if she likes my bird.
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