Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Norma's Rug

First, a little history. When we returned from Mexico in early 2010 we had to have work done on the motorhome in Albuquerque, NM. It was tied up in the shop for three or four nights and we were not allowed to sleep in it so we thought if we had to stay in a hotel anyway, we may as well make an adventure out of it. So we ended up in Taos, NM, one of the places on our Bucket list. One of the things they sell in Taos is Navajo Rugs!  Norma fell in love with them and simply had to have one. the price tags were out of this world and after several rounds of negotiations (with me) she settled on a very small one, probably 18" X 24". Small rug, big price! I have blocked it out of my memory but I think it was at least a couple of hundred dollars, probably more. Not good for much except hanging on the wall. Ever since she has been reminding me that we have to go back through Navajo country and buy a bigger one. I have been avoiding going home by that route again because it would cost me in the four figures (before the dot) and that the first number would not be a "1" or probably even a "2".

Today we were walking around Oaxaca on Aveneda Alcala near the Santo Domingo Church. Norma was in yet another clothing store and I was people watching on the street. One of the people I was watching was Luis Martinez, master weaver and the proprietor of his families rug shop. He noticed me and asked in perfect English where I was from. We started chatting and he invited me into his small store and poured me a glass of cold water. I told him I was waiting for Norma and he said I may as well wait in the store where it is cool. I said Norma would be interested in his store because of the Navajo rug she never got. I told him the story.

He told me his rugs were made in nearby Teotitlan de Valle using similar techniques as the Navajo but that Navajo rugs were now priced beyond the reach of a normal person. Each of Luis' rugs of the size we ended up buying takes ten days to weave with the weaver working six hours a day. It is not possible to work longer than six hours as the fingers and eyes cannot handle it. He said some weavers will tell you they work ten or even twelve hours a day but they are lying and are just trying to get more money. By then Norma had come out of her shop and was standing on the curb across the street looking for me. Luis went to the door and called her name. Surprised, she came over and introductions were made. Norma's eyes lit up as she looked at the walls. Luis' rugs started at 3,000 pesos and went up to 18,000 pesos. These prices are similar to what I remember in the Navajo stores except they were talking US dollars!

Here is Luis' shop:

"Here are some of my rugs, Norma. Do you see anything you like?"

"This one is nice, only 3000 pesos.Maybe a little small."

Luis hand finishes every rug himself, checking for imperfections and knotting the fringe.

"I want my customers to be happy and satisfied. If you like my rugs, you will be back".

"These are some larger ones for 4000 pesos"

 "OK, this is the one I want!" "3900 pesos ($310). Just for you Norma!"

Norma is happy. The rug will go nicely on the new bamboo floor in the living room. Croft is happy (for obvious reasons)! 

If you are in Oaxaca and want to check Luis' store out, here are the details of how to find him:

Luis Martinez
Macedonio Alcala at Santo Domingo
(Pedestrian Walk)


  1. How nice that you both got the best possible deal - from very different perspectives. It's a win, win. Nice rugs too!!!!

  2. Beautiful rugs, nice guy and a great picture of Norma! Have fun.

  3. Some very nice rugs there.

  4. Excellent deal on the rugs, everybody happy now.

  5. Getting MORE jealous by the minute. Back in 1994 my boyfriend and I also bought a few rugs. Hard to resist! Glad you FINALLY got a rug Norma - worth the wait I'm sure. LOVE LOVE LOVE the shopping in Oaxaca - guess that's why it is probably better we are not there this year. I'll need a special 'shopping in Oaxaca' budget. Get any chocolate yet?

    1. Teresa, I have not found chocolate! I share your love of Oaxaca. You will be back! Hugs to Cassia! What a great kid, a natural born adventurer!

  6. Great choice Norma. Looks like this trip is turning out wonderfully perfect.