I first met Cochita in August of 2017. I did not learn her name or who she was until I returned to Ajijic five months later. It was in a late August afternoon and the sun was getting very low in the sky. I was surprised to see her weaving at such a late hour and in such a remote place. She was near the lake but a little far from the malecon. I was just walking and sort of stumbled upon her. I didn’t expect to find such a treasure in such an isolated spot along the lake. She was far outside the malecon and that area does not get much traffic except for horses and old men.
I later learned from people that this is her work station because of the two big trees nearby. She uses them to hang her weavings from and she also uses one of the trees to mount her loom on. That way she can lean back a llittle and get tension on the work. You can’t pass the shuttle through the warp and the weft unless there is tension on the loom. At the time there was so many weavings displayed; not only hanging but in neat piles and piles or bags and purses and smaller weavings that I was puzzled at how she could store them at nightfall and not have to worry about theft. I remember looking around and seeing no place that could pass as a shelter, so I could not understand how she could possibly store her weavings there before going home. I think I just assumed some family member or friend would come to pick her up. How wrong I was. The truth is she packs everything up and wheels it home with a cart up a hill–without help.
I knew I wanted to know her and paint her. She has a tenacious spirit and she is probably the hardest working person I have met here. She is friendly, sweet, has a sense of humor and a humility that is unusual: all wrapped up in one remarkable person. She is tiny, has sparkling eyes and her hands are strong. I came back several times to see her. The last time I was able to buy one of her big woven bags that I did not have the money for last summer. It was still there and we were able to extricate it from the bottom of one of her piles. I remembered the bag and the pattern. I use it every day and it’s perfect for my Spanish books.
Here is a link a friend just found for me about her from Ajijic News Calendar. I was excited to know that I had painted her before I read about her. Apparently lots of people know and love her. Read more about her story. I hope to keep you posted on her from time to time.