One summer, Penny, Stephane, Alan Knight, and I took a five-week trip to Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador in a converted Volkswagen van. We slept in the van, while Alan bravely slept outside in a pup tent. Along the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, Penny met an itinerant cloth seller. We bought quite a few pieces of fabric and Penny, who spoke fluent Spanish, arranged to have him send beautiful hand-woven cloth back to Canada on a regular basis. Since he could not read or write, everything was arranged through a translator and sent by him to Ottawa, which I in turn picked up at the customs office. It was quite long and laborious at customs, since they (as many functionaries seem to do) always had a lengthy discussion about the cloth itself: was it a finished product or was it just cloth? The designation made a big difference on the custom fee. From what I have heard, it is still the same at customs.
To accommodate the shawls, tablecloths, and other items that Penny sold at Le Hibou on Saturday during the day, we had a large trunk built on wheels that stood upright so that it would open and its contents could be displayed on shelves. When not in use we would just close it, lock it, and store it in a corner. At first only the cloth was sold, then Penny started to make dresses using the material. Thus started the Chac Mool Boutique. The boutique retained a connection with Le Hibou since we had numerous fashion shows at our new location on Sussex.