There is no road to take us to the Taltimiche weaving co-op, but in the company of beneficiary women, we wind our way down the path to the new weaving centre built this year to replace the building that was destroyed by earthquake in 2012.
The Taltimiche women’s weaving co-op has operated for over 20 years. The new building allows the women to continue to produce artesenias sold both locally and abroad.
Many women who have been members since the beginning credit the co-op for changing the course of their lives and that of their children. The income that is generated buys food during the six months of the year that insufficient food is produced on their tiny plots to feed their families.
As a token of gratitude, we are treated to a dinner and a show! We eat chicken soup as children prepare to take centre stage. Though shy at first, the kids soon start practicing their Spanish with me…My name is…. How old are you? That kind of thing. They guess I am 20 years old and instantly win my heart.
They perform a traditional dance to music playing, albeit intermittently, from a silver boom box.
Repurposed bicycle rims, hand cranked to spool thread, are pulled out for demonstration, and we learn the lengthy process of transferring the spooled thread into multicoloured loops to be used on the looms. I feel like a pioneer. Ironically, the feeling is interrupted abruptly by a woman pulling a ringing cell phone out of her beautifully hand woven belt.
After visiting the weaving centre, Olindia invites us to visit her home where she houses her very own weaving loom that she saved up to buy. She laughs when my eyes go wide as she explains the three-hour process to thread the loom before the actual weaving can even begin. Her hands skillfully trail the myriad of threads and her eyes expertly monitor the moving parts as she demonstrates her craft with ease. The space is dimly lit and dusty, but her wares are beautiful and her handiwork is striking. She is proud, and she should be.
“This is my work,” she says, holding a woven frisbee, an item recently added to her repertoire, close to her heart. “It has kept my family alive.”