An Afternoon in Agustin Gonzales

Thursday we took the Rancho tour to Agustin Gonzales, a small town of about 1000 descendants of the Otomi people who built the Canada de la Virgin pyramid we visited in previous years. The tour was run by volunteers, and all of the proceeds went to support the village. The volunteers have trained eighteen women in the village to learn the art of rug hooking. The tour provides these women with income from the tour as well as a market for their rugs. The village has four schools, including the only high school in the area. It is interesting that despite the fact that many people in the village work in San Miguel, no one in the village has contracted COVID. They speculated on whether this could be due to their somewhat unique diet.

At the first house, we learned how to make corn tortillas and had a traditional lunch. The Otomi eat a vegetarian diet except for certain holidays where they eat meat, usually pork. The tortillas are made on this wood burning stove.
The first step is to remove the corn kernels from the cob. Susan was particularly good at this.
The next step is to soften the corn kernels in water and then grind them with a mano (the stone rolling pen) and metate. The corn is ground three times to make it fine enough for tortillas.
A tortilla press. Note the carved wooden circles which are coated with a vegetable dye and then used to make designs on the tortillas.
Tortilla with design.
My lunch featuring a stuffed pepper, guacamole, hand made cheese, beans, rice, a potato paddy, salsa, and cucumber water. The water was very good and I want to try making that at home.
Our second stop. The woman on the right is 90 years old and gave us lessons in speaking the Otomi language and explained how they made pottery. The woman in blue is Charlotte Bell who organized these tours and taught them the art of rug hooking.
The tienda where the rugs are sold.
In the demonstration we saw, they did not use conventional yarn; but instead used very finely cut fabric to hook into the backing.
At the third stop, we learned how to make fruit water and a desert. We also learned how different plants were used for medicinal purposes.
The third house was a little more upscale than the first two.
The stone work on the wall was particularly attractive.
The children sang the Mexican national anthem for us in Otomi
Our final stop was a stone carver. He made his own tools. The stone is a type of sandstone, so it is relatively easy to carve.p
That evening we went to a concert featuring two violinists who were taught by Leonard Brooks. It was a spirited performance featuring some of my favorite songs: La Vie en Rose, Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, My Way, and New York, New York.
We capped off a busy and fun day with a rooftop dinner with our friends Suzanne and Peter from Ottawa, Canada.

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