An explanation: Navigating Oaxaca (pronounced Wah-Hah-Kah), Mexico, is a cultural arts and history experience that requires a certain sense of exploration, discovery and adventure. For me, it is going without a roadmap down the back alleys of a small village to see what I will discover next: a master weaver, an exceptional woodcarver, an accomplished potter or expressive painter. I am open to the experience of creating relationship by appreciating artistic creativity, cultural history, shared values and vision, and the possibility for multicultural exchange. After four visits of several weeks each over the past two years, and an invitation from Federico Chavez and his family to live and build a casita in Teotitlan del Valle, I begin to call myself “cultural navigator.” This blog is a way for me to share my experiences with you with the hope that it will excite your interest to visit this extraordinary place and appreciate the rich artistic and cultural traditions of Mexican immigrants. There are great artisans who live on the back alleyways, don’t show up in the tourist guide books, and aren’t willing to pay hefty commissions to have tour guides and tour buses pulling up to their front door. I am motivated to support fair trade so that 100% of tourist dollars go directly to the families who actually create the art. In the next weeks, we will be preparing to return to Oaxaca through the winter holidays. There will be posadas and fireworks. The ancient fife player will lead the village band in a Sousa march. Farmers will herd cattle and sheep through the streets. The guacalotes will chortle and the donkey next door will bray at sunrise. We will hike to the reservoir along the river through the bamboo and cactus forest, beyond us Picacho rises above the 6,000 foot plateau with a promise of a new archeological discovery. We will eat handmade tamales con pollo y salsa Coloradito with fresh nopales, and the adventure will begin anew.
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Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
- Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of experience developing and delivering award-winning programs for Indiana University, University of Virginia, George Washington University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Study tours are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's most stunning artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized, live and work at home where it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited to 12 people for the most personal experience.
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