Often I spend time tootling in the countryside with pals simply looking for an adventure. Perhaps an encounter that leads to new tour or article on San Miguel’s history and culture. Rarely do I get to chat up a bunch of hookers.
Not far from the Presa’s dam is the ranch area of Agustin Gonzales. Agustin Gonzales and his brother, Juan, owned a hacienda that, with the completion of the dam in 1969, is now beneath water. However, you can view the chapel’s steeple piercing the water line from the town’s new location on higher ground.
The town of Agustin Gonzales is a small, lakeside agricultural community featuring a quarry where the stone for the Parroquia came from and a namesake chapel to St. Agustin. The chapel is unique in the area for its stone design and abundance of church-going hookers.
Back in the 1990s a group of local women started hooking rugs using wool, unlike the yarn based kits popular in the US and Canada. Creating their own designs, the hookers focus on turning into art the life around them. The rugs focus on nature (cactus, crops, mountains, and livestock) or religious themes (chapels and virgins).
I stumbled upon the rug hookers on a meeting day. Despite the torrential rain more than a dozen women and children crowded a small room to discuss advertising for their Friday tours that bring folks out to enjoy a meal and view the rugs available for purchase. However, the big news that day was a recently arrived shipment of wool from sister hookers in the US. Bags were opened with the excitement normally only seen in small children on Christmas morning. A seemingly unending supply of wool poured forth that was quickly divided according to color, brown and gray being the most featured. Next the wool was cut and then divided among the ladies. One, holding a five week old, was unable to avail herself to the bounty so I offered to hold the lad thus freeing up her hands.
The baby, Benedicto, farted like a sailor on shore leave during a bender. Then had the audacity to occasionally pop open one eye as if to imply the aroma was my own. Boys are boys from the get go.
The older Otomi women remember life before the lake when the town specialized in bowls made from the river’s clay. Today goats, corn and beans, plus the infamous rugs, are the town’s economic focus.
Once the wool was distributed the ladies went back to their lives inspired to produce more rugs that are sold at craft fairs here in San Miguel and in galleries across the US. I was inspired to rag my daughter that night about moving back to San Miguel and making me a grandfather.