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Monday, January 11, 2010

La Noria Leather Factories

Wow three posts in one day - a record.
We took a drive up to La Noria the other day. Again this was a revisit – we went there last year too. From Libre MX15 we headed east on the Mazatlan-La Noria road. Again it was about 20 miles. At home when driving the little country roads Bill is always serving back and forth. When I ask him why he says he is avoiding the little worms crossing the street! Okay. Well his avoiding worms stood him in good practice for avoiding the pot holes on this road. Some had progressed beyond pot holes into craters. In some places he had to choose which ones to hit cause there was no way to avoid all of them. Poor Willie got a few good jolts.
This time we found a couple of the leather factories that La Noria is famous for. They make saddles and huaraches (sandals.) The first one we found by mistake we were just driving around and I saw a bunch of what looked like either wide noodles or narrow leather straps hanging just inside of a window.
Well of course had to go investigate. But first we had to park. Up and down some dirt streets looking for a place to stop. Passed a horse and rider heading into town.
Then came upon another horse tied up in front of a tiny market. Had visions of the cowboy inside buying Tecate or Tequila – nope out he came with a handful of rolls of toilet paper. Such a let down.
Finally parked by an elementary school and got some strange looks from the Mommies. So Bill talked to them for awhile and they were smiling when we walked down the road. The factory is in an old brick building built high off the street.
The steps leading up to it were worn with age and use.
Inside we found a “factory” with about ten people working in it. They showed us around. The leather straps I had seen are the straps used to make women’s sandals.
That is the job of these young men.

He is looping the first strap onto the sole.

Then he selects a form and builds the rest of the shoe around it.

The four of them make about 200 shoes a day. (Don’t remember if that was shoes or pairs.) As the shoes were finished they were lined up on the floor by a big fan and a very old sewing machine.

In the room behind them saddles were being made.

In one area there were wooden frames waiting for the leather pieces and in another a big stack of stirrups.
Also saw the part that goes under the frame and the cinch.
One guy was stamping designs on the leather.
We left there and headed back into town. Past some really, really old buildings.
See how the old brick rows wave
In town we stumbled onto another factory. And a tour guide was taking his group through it so I tagged along. Lots of leather scraps and tools on a wall.
I love the smell from the leather. Then past another sewing machine.
The guide explained that some metal forms on the bench were used to make 10,000 mile sandals of different sizes.
These are the shoes made with old tire rubber for the soles. Saw some tires hanging around with soles already cut out of them.
Then the guide was showing how to trim the narrow strips of leather. The worker got a kick out of watching him.
Then he showed how it is really done. Metal guide and a really, really sharp knife.
People were busy at work all over the shop.
The things we just take for granted – I really enjoy seeing how things are made and love to share it.
In the store connected to the shop they sold machete sheaths and bridles and leather masks. We had seen some of these last year but they were really expensive.
This is a big one - not the one I got.
The big ones were expensive still but I got a small one for Jennie. And Bill bought another piece of fine leather as he wants to try to make some masks when we get home.
On the way back to Mazatlan we stopped at the Tequila Distillery we went to last year but nothing was going on there except a big party of some kind. No tequila in the barrels, no plants cooking – nothing. Don’t know if was closed or just shut down for a while. It still smelled good though.
Back down the holey road to home.

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