If you saw Bonifacia Tovar sitting among the guavas and papayas in a Mexican market she would look like any of the brown ingenious local women of the area. Boni, as she is affectionately called, is pure blood Otomi, one of the ancient tribes of Mexico. Her squat form and round cheeks are typical of this ethnic group, the decedents of the pyramid located three miles from her village, Agustin Gonzales. She was born in 1958, has never been married and has no desire, in her words, to be some man’s “slave” or victim of his “moods”.Boni shares a home with her mother and two unmarried siblings. The amenities of the brick house are a fire pit for cooking, two tables, plastic chairs, beds, a few crude shelving units and blankets for doorways. There is no bathroom. All washing is done under the bougainvillea and pomegranate trees where big plastic containers surround the only water faucet. Clean clothes and pots and pans are hung from the trees to dry. Everyone has a bed but there are no doors so when night is chilly, as it frequently is in these high mountains, they need to burrow deep in their blankets to stay warm. But they are a happy, generous and an incredibly courteous family. Guests are always greeted with profuse expressions of delight for visiting and when leaving they are blessed with long, elegant, elaborate phrases of thanks. Food is always offered and to experience Dona Maria’s fresh ground tortillas cooked over fire is gastronomical bliss. They are a delicious by themselves but add a sliced tomato, a pinch of salt and maybe some freshly made goat cheese and home grown beans and you have a tasty meal. This is their daily fare. The tortillas are served in serviettes, a very fancy dishtowel. All Mexican women embroider and crochet serviettes. They consider this time off and look forward to grabbing a few moments in the day or evening to practice the craft. Serviettas deserve a description. They begin with a white muslin fabric imprinted with designs including birds, flowers, cows, fruit and many times romantic words like “te amo”, “I love you”. The design is embroidered and the exterior is crocheted with a wide border. With typical Mexican taste they use hot pink, chartreuse, turquoise and neo yellow for their colors. Boni began her art career making serviettes.Her life has not been easy. She has tended cows, planted and cultivated acres of corn and bean plants by hand and worked as a maid. However in 1998 she and other women from the village were visiting DIF, a government sponsored social service organization, when they became aware of the “embroidery project”. This sparked their interest and they took the initial class sponsored by Mujeres en Cambio. MEC is a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 by a small group of American expatriates and Mexican citizens. Their primary aim was to help impoverished women in the rural communities surrounding San Miguel de Allende. But the embroidery project had limited success. Most of the women who were able to attend at least a few classes came from one village – Agustin Gonzales. A Canadian visitor to San Miguel suggested that hooked rugs might be a more distinctive and successful craft and classes were then given in Agustin Gonzales. Boni was one of the first students and she offered her house as the location for the classes and eventually she became the organizer of the group, quite a challenge for a woman with a 4th grade education.Marketing in those first years was limited. Boni was selling the rugs at the monthly MEC fund raising luncheons. But sales were minimal. In 2000 while visiting the village to take photos of the rugs for the website she was creating for MEC, Charlotte Bell became hooked. She took their collection of rugs to SMA and showed them to Susan White who had a craft store near Austin, TX. Susan loved them, bought the entire collection, and together the two women created trunk shows in Austin. Since those early days the rugs have been sold at hook’ins all over the USA and at various craft shows in Texas.Sales at last began to grow. People, especially rug hookers, loved the authentic folk art designs. Boni and Charlotte also began selling to a local store and at craft fairs in San Miguel de Allende. Now Boni’s job had grown. She had inventory, usually more then 100 rugs, to keep track of in her spiral notebook. She has been learning by doing. In 2013 the group opened a store at their village so now rugs are sold in four locations. However sales still are not great enough to make a major impact on the economy of the village.The group has grown to 16 women each with a particular style. Boni’s style is the most entertaining. She loves to weave clever phrases into her rugs. Things like “My wife is very jealous” and “which of these men will the beautiful woman choose for her husband?” An interesting statement from a single woman.In 2011 Charlotte brought the rugs to the “Yellow Rose Rug Camp” near Salado TX. Gene Shepherd, one of the instructors, was delighted with the rugs. That summer he created a special video, with Spanish translation, for the group to explain making wool borders. With the help of Gene and his group, Boni has been invited to the 2013 biennial conference in Long Beach CA to teach “Hooking off a Frame”. Boni rarely travels outside the SMA area much less to the USA. She has never been in an airplane or stayed in a hotel.I know the attendees of the conference will be delighted to meet the charming Boni. And thanks to the Biennial planners she will have an experience of a life time.