Monthly Archives: March 2013

Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat 2014: Lifting Your Creative Voice

4th Annual Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat.  Arrive Friday, February 28, leave Saturday, March 8, 2014–8 nights, 9 days.

We are women who have something to say. We keep journals, notes, drafts of unpublished material. Or, we dream of writing and never have.  Ideas percolate and we want to develop them. Perhaps we have let the writer’s life lapse and need renewal.  We may seek guidance and support to continue an unfinished piece or publish it.  The Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat: Lifting Your Creative Voice is your place to learn, express yourself, and be the woman who writes. (Note the active tense!)

With published author/poet and university professor Robin Greene‘s guidance and coaching, you’ll gain knowledge and perspective about the art and craft of writing.   We offer writing exercises and triggers, thoughtful discussion, caring feedback, and the simple gift of time.

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Minerva Rising Literary Journal blog publishes women’s workshop essay

Our goal is to empower you to tell your story well, and to lift and share your voice—widening your lyrical range and adding to your narrative toolbox.  Here you can choose the genre that best suits what you have to say: memoir, journaling, poetry, creative non-fiction and fiction. The retreat is designed to accommodate both novice and experienced writers, and it is limited to offer an especially satisfying small group experience.

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The writing workshop is complemented by and integrated with daily yoga sessions led by Beth Miller, and tailored to each participant’s physical level and needs. Through this practice, we flex our bodies to stretch our imaginations.  Beth employs movement, chanting and using the breath to help us find voice and creative center — a perfect combination of the physical and spiritual, says past participant LeeAnn Weigold. We meet in the altar room of a local family for both yoga and writing. Each informs the other. 

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What Participants Say

  • I learned I am fully capable of being the writer I dreamed of becoming.
  • The location, teaching and program structure created a truly transcendent experience of enormous value.
  • I was challenged and that turned out to be exactly what I needed.
  • Far exceeded expectations. Got many suggestions for how to write healing stories for my family.
  • It was wonderful!
  • The combination of writing, yoga, meditation and shared sisterhood is transformational.
  • Oaxaca feels safe, safer than my hometown in the USA.
  • I identified a writing project that engages and excites me.
  • The balance of intensive writing workshops, cultural excursions and yoga lead to a powerful experience on all levels.
  • The feedback was so thoughtful.  I honestly can’t think of anything I would change.
  • Beth’s yoga is the best I have ever experienced.  A perfect combo of the physical and spiritual.

We are based in the Zapotec weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca.  Imagine a setting so beautiful that it inspires all the best within you.  Here, amid the flowering bougainvillea and in the shade of red pomegranates, with the backdrop of 9,000 foot mountain peaks, you will enjoy a rich and rewarding experience. Our all-inclusive workshop is perfect for renewal and self-reflection.

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A Message from Your Workshop Leader, Author/Poet and Professor Robin Greene

“The writing retreat is very relaxed, and in the past three years–yes, this is our fourth!–the participants have been wonderfully supportive and open-hearted. You don’t need to bring any writing, but if you wish, you can–anything from a piece in progress, notebook ideas, some journal entries, or finished work. Oaxaca is a lovely place and finding writing topics is easy. Also, I’ll have plenty of prompts, writing exercises, and suggestions—and, of course, as women write, we energize each other.

“As the writing instructor, I like to encourage women to find their individual voices so that the retreat experience is personally meaningful. In addition to one scheduled conference with each participant, I’m available for feedback and coaching throughout our time together.  And, because I teach creative writing, I have a repertoire of techniques and strategies to share with writers at all levels.

“While I’m a university professor, this Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat remains my favorite teaching experience.”

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We cannot promise that you will win a poetry prize, as did one of our 2011 participants after writing her winning poem at the retreat, or be published in a literary journal as a 2012 participant accomplished.   We CAN promise that you will explore, develop and deepen as a writer.

If you are working on a project — bring it. If you have something in mind but haven’t yet put it to paper (or computer), this is the place to do it.

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You’ll have an opportunity to write on your own during open time in the schedule.  And, if you choose, there’s also plenty to do here. We’ve scheduled daily yoga, stretching and meditation sessions, plus options to participate in other activities: cooking class, massage, walking, hiking, bird-watching, a Oaxaca city shopping excursion, and visiting village weaving and artists’ studios.

What the Retreat Includes:

  • 21 hours of group writing and instruction
  • One-hour individual coaching session
  • Daily workshop sessions to give/receive feedback
  • Focused coaching to hone your skills: grammar, reading in public, publishing
  • 7 daily yoga sessions, tailored to varying skill levels
  • Women’s traditional temescal sweat lodge
  • Guided visit to Tlacolula regional market
  • 8 nights lodging
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 4 lunches
  • 6 dinners

Optional Added Fee-based Activities:

  • Shiatsu Massage, $50 per person
  • Zapotec/Oaxaca cooking class, scheduled as an option within the workshop week, $70 per person  (2 person minimum)

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Exquisite Corpse* Poem 2013-- Flower-Spangled, Hopscotch Light

Sun filters through the window,

dances across the freckles of his nose

and cheeks, a hopscotch of light. But you,

you only left me an afternoon, our shared

history erased as surely as footsteps

in a snowstorm, woven lives unraveling,

a plum fallen to the ground, left for crows—

graduation over, parents pacified.

I would like to embellish this place

in which I live, drink Red Rose tea

from a flower-spangled cup at the edge

of an untended maize field, boundaries

marked by old posts with termite trails.

Damnit. I wish people would tell the truth

and stop using words like “fine,”

so I could finally think about what to do

with my education. And so, my dear

Skye, you do have ancestors, and we love

the water anyway, even if it cannot clean us.

*Exquisite Corpse is a surrealist tradition, as Robin Greene explains, in which a piece of art is made collaboratively.  The Corpse Pose in yoga is the Shivasana ending pose.  Robin asked each participant to contribute a favorite line or two that she wrote during the workshop. Robin collected our voices and wove them together to form one collaborative voice.  The result was Flower-Spangled, Hopscotch Light

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There are lovely walking paths around the village, along the river and into the countryside near a local reservoir. You are welcome to venture out and explore the village and its environs on your own. Personal safety is not a concern here.

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What Women Say . . .

“I came hoping to pick up a few tips that would improve my writing.  I leave with a reignited passion to write, improve physical goals, and unlimited gratitude for the competence and gifts of my instructors.  Robin is flexible and responds to our varying needs.  The balance of intensive writing workshops, cultural excursions, and yoga results in a powerful experience.   This is the place to improve writing skills and explore the emotional elements that undergird them.”  –Jan Donaldson, North Carolina

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“The instruction was excellent and supportive. The personal coaching session offered me a chance to talk about my writing in a way I never had before.  The workshops are especially valuable because the feedback is so thoughtful.” –Susan Lesser, New York

“I discovered that my writing entertains people!  Beth’s yoga is the best I have ever experienced.  A perfect combo of the physical and spiritual.  And I loved the cooking class.” –LeeAnn Weigold, British Columbia, Canada

“The yoga was so freeing, allowing a creative flow so that I could feel and write [with intention, intensively.]  The fellowship of this group was so amazing.” –Laura Lamm, North Carolina

“Focused learning.  Beautiful setting.  Talented participants.  I was challenged and that was exactly what I needed.”  –Marta Light, New Mexico

“Robin’s insights push us into self-awareness.  I am fully capable of being the writer I dream of becoming.  The temescal made me feel so powerful and helped me to further love my body for exactly what it is.” –Rebecca King, North Carolina

“It was wonderful!  Now I can write healing stories for my family because of the many suggestions about how to do that.” – Janet Andrews, Arizona

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“It was all perfect. You gave us a beautiful writing workshop in a beautiful village setting and you also gave us a strong community-of-women bond that will far outlast this conference. Mil gracias!” — Katie Kingston, MFA, Trinidad, Colorado

“The quality of the teachers was stellar and the combination was a perfect fit for me. Robin has a clarity that is lovely, supportive, truth-telling, knowledgeable, superbly skilled. Beth is a beautiful, beautiful teacher. Combining the yoga and sound with writing was profound.” — Nancy Coleman, Portland, Maine

“This retreat is held in a really wonderful place, with a guide who knows a great deal about the town, has true relationships with people who live here. Robin and Beth are great teachers and work well together.” — Morgen Van Vorst, Los Angeles, California

“The week helped with my intention to write my book. There were too many valuable parts to list! We experienced an amazing time together, sweating leaves, meditation, chanting, writing, and honoring our lives. This was an awesome experience.” — Susan Florence, MFA, Ojai, California

“We learned from the other women in the group, from the culture, the language and people in the village. It was magical.” –Bridget Price, Sydney, Australia and Mexico City

“I loved that Robin, Beth and Norma were just a part of the group. I loved going to the markets and the cooking class. I’ve always wanted to come to Oaxaca and this was the perfect opportunity.” — Sue Spirit, Boone, North Carolina

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Your Workshop Leaders

Robin Greene is the McLean Endowed Professor of English and Writing, and Director of the Writing Center at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She is also co-founder and senior editor of Longleaf Press, a literary press that publishes contemporary poetry. Greene is the recipient of a NC Arts Council/NEA Fellowship, a university teaching award, and a visiting professorship in Romania. Her work is widely published in literary journals. Greene has led community and conference workshops, has served as a writing consultant, and has taught creative writing for over two decades. Her books include Real Birth: Women Share their Stories(nonfiction), Memories of Light and Lateral Drift(collections of poetry), and Augustus: Narrative of a Slave Woman (published in 2011). Greene holds an M.A. in English from SUNY-Binghamton and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. See Robin’s website:

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Beth Miller is our yoga instructor who combines yogic practice and philosophy with meditation, creativity and improvisation. She specializes in Vinyasa-Hatha yogic traditions and employs sonorous yoga practices as an approach to help women of all ages to give voice to their lives.  


Portrait of Beth Miller by Mauricio Cervantes

Beth has a background in Holistic-Health Counseling, working primarily with teen girls and young women to inspire healthy lifestyle habits. In addition, Beth is a vocal artist, performer and teacher of Western classical and sacred music. She holds a B.A. in music from Westminster Choir College, is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor, and completed the chef training program from the Institute for Culinary Education.

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Norma Hawthorne produces arts and educational programs in Oaxaca, Mexico, operating as Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC since 2006. She offers textile and fiber arts, tapestry weaving, natural dyeing, creative writing, and photography workshops that people throughout the world attend.  During her 30-year university career, Norma organized national award-winning programs for Indiana University, University of Virginia, and George Washington University.  Before she retired, Norma raised more than $23 million for The University of North Carolina School of Nursing. She holds the B.A. from California State University at Northridge and the M.S. from the University of Notre Dame.


Preliminary Workshop Outline

  • Friday, February 28, travel day, arrive and check-in
  • Saturday, March 1, orientation, village walk, writing, yoga
  • Sunday, March 2, regional market visit, yoga, writing
  • Monday, March 3, yoga, writing, temescal
  • Tuesday, March 4, yoga, writing, cooking class option, consultations
  • Wednesday, March 5, yoga, writing, consultations
  • Thursday, March 6, yoga, writing, Oaxaca city option
  • Friday, March 7, yoga, writing, reception and reading
  • Saturday, March 8, departure

Lodging/Accommodations and Cost

To keep this program affordable, we have selected clean and basic accommodations at family operated bed and breakfast inns.  Local meals are prepared by excellent cooks from organic ingredients made from scratch. Vegetarian options are available.


  • $1,195 per person double occupancy with shared bath
  • $1,395 double room with private bath (sleeps 2)
  • $1,495 single room with private bath (sleeps one)
  • $50, add-on Shiatsu massage
  • $70, add-on cooking class, learn to make mole
  • $125 per night, add-on lodging in Oaxaca city
  • $45 per night, add-on lodging in Teotitlan del Valle

Most travel workshops of this type and length cost more than twice as much!

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The workshop does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips/gratuities, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation to and from Oaxaca city.  We will arrange taxi pick-up and return from/to the Oaxaca airport at your own expense.

We reserve the right to substitute instructors and alter the program as needed.

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Reservations and Cancellations

A 50% deposit based on your preferred options is required to guarantee your spot. The final payment for the balance due (including any add-ons) shall be paid by January 10, 2014. Payment is requested or PayPal. We will  send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register.  After January 10, refunds are not possible.  You may send a substitute in your place.  If you cancel before January 10, we will refund 50% of your deposit.

We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible.  We can provide a quote for this.

Workshop Details and Travel Tips.  Before the workshop begins, we will email you a map, instructions to get to the workshop location from the airport, and a document that includes extensive travel tips and information.

To get your questions answered and to register, contact:  Since we are in Oaxaca most of the year, we are happy to arrange a Skype conversation with you if you wish.

This retreat is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.

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Sunday Tlacolula Market for Women’s Creative Writing Group

We include a trip to the Sunday Tlacolula market outside the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, as an integral part of the creative writing experience at our annual women’s writing and yoga retreat held in early spring each year.  Why?  Because the market stimulates the senses and gives participants triggers from which to jump off into writing about their own lives and experiences.  It’s a great way to enjoy the local culture and see how locals go about about shopping for food, household items, and the necessities of daily life in contrast to our own.

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Tlacolula de Matamoros, as it is properly called, is a ten minute bus ride from Teotitlan del Valle where our workshop is based.  It is the commercial and political hub for the region.  All the Teotitlan buses go there on market day, making numerous round trips up until about four o’clock in the afternoon.

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Villagers from throughout the Tlacolula valley congregate in Tlacolula, arriving by private car, taxi, collectivo or community-operated bus.  You can identify the villages people come from by the style of clothing they wear, plus the names on and colors of the vehicles that bring them. 

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It was only a few minutes after we got to the corner that the bus came to pick us up.  It was already packed, standing room only, because we didn’t get on where the bus originates at the church, so the nine of us squeezed in and clung the the overhead railing. The ride was seven pesos per person.  That’s about five cents.

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One of my favorite stopping off points is Tlacolula’s Chocolate la Tradicion chocolate maker.  The shop is on the right side of the street about three blocks from the bus station as you walk toward the church.  Here, they combine roasted cacao beans, cinnamon, almonds and sugar, then put it through a grinder to make mole.  Usually families have their own recipes and the molina will prepare the blend exactly to family specifications.  Yummy.  They sell the prepared chocolate along with the famous Oaxaca handmade wooden frothers and all hot chocolate drinking accoutrements — a Oaxacan ritual staple.  When you visit, dance to the music and tell them I sent you!

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Here, everything is fresh and available in the cacophony of street vendor frenzy.   The aisles go on for city blocks and are actually cordoned streets covered with plastic awnings, lined with a hodge-podge of sellers.  They sell from tables piled high with butchered chicken or fresh fruit or kitchenware or spices or recycled clothing or hardware or field plows.  They sell from rolling carts and backpacks.  They sell from bicycles and tarps spread on the asphalt.  Whatever you need to eat or replenish for your household is available here.

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This is also a tourist mecca.  There is always something to bring home as a useful remembrance: a fine handwoven bamboo basket, painted gourd bowls, colorful cotton shawl with delicately macrame tied fringes, a floral patterned apron, an embroidered blouse, or a high quality tablecloth and napkins.

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Take a rest and have lunch at Comedor Mary on the block that borders the far side of the church.  Run out of pesos?  Stop in the Banamex ATM on the street where the Teotitlan vendors sell their rugs.

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I always pinpoint the church courtyard as a meeting place just in case we get separated.  This time, having a local cell phone really came in handy because the market is definitely big enough to get lost in, especially for first-timers.

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My favorite things to shop for at the Tlacolula market are:

  1. handwoven cotton or nylon hammocks–made locally
  2. red clay pottery from the village of San Marcos
  3. glorious, wildly embroidered floral gingham aprons
  4. finely woven bamboo baskets with palm leaf handles
  5. chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla — all from Mexico
  6. tablecloths and napkins from Mitla
  7. a silk (really rayon) ikat rebozo (shawl) with a fabulous punta (macrame fringe)
  8. and lots of photographs!

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About Immigration, “The Girl” Movie Opens This Weekend, Filmed in Oaxaca

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez from Democracy Now interview independent film maker David Riker and award-winning Australian actress Abbie Cornish who made a movie about what it means to be involved in the human trafficking of undocumented immigrants who do America’s work.

The Girl is an intimate story that reminds us that Mexicans and Central Americans are the people who care for our children, tend our gardens, and  work in our fields to provide us with food.  The story is told from the point-of-view of a young Texas woman who unwittingly becomes involved with The Girl, portrayed by Maritza Santiago from Oaxaca.  Maritza was selected from 3,000 girls who tried out for the part when she was nine years old.

If you don’t do anything else today, please watch this video clip interview below and when the full-length feature film comes your way, please see it. Thank you!  Opens March 8 in New York and March 16 in Los Angeles.

The Girl is a microcosm. Here in Oaxaca and in our village — in fact in most villages throughout the state, men and women leave their families behind to find work, send money home to support their families, and suffer incredible hardship. I know people who have been left behind and many who have gone to the U.S. and returned. They are honorable, decent and hardworking people who are family centric. It is a tragedy that the United States does not have a more human immigration policy.

Luxury Travel Photography Workshop: Chiapas and the Maya World

8 nights, 9 days.  Arrive November 9 and leave November 17, 2013, starting from $2,545 per person.  See with inspired clarity!

Chiapas and the Maya World photography workshop will tantalize your senses as you travel to one of the most magical places on earth – San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico – a cultural crossroads of international sophistication in the Maya highlands, replete with ancient rituals, mysterious ruins, glorious textiles, superb cuisine, and old world charm.

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We welcome all levels of photographers, from beginners with little or no experience to advanced amateurs.  Professionals who want to work with documentary photographer Frank Hunter are welcome, too.

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San Cristobal is one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos due to its unique natural beauty, cultural riches and history.  It lies in a valley at 7,200 feet above sea level surrounded by pine-clad hills where communities of original indigenous Maya carry on many of their ancestors’ traditions.

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This is personalized cultural travel at its best!  Our workshop is limited to 10 photography participants to give you the highest level of attention and service.  You are invited to bring your partner or spouse if you wish.  If s/he is not interested in photography – no worries.  We can help customize a daily program based on his/her interests while the rest of us are out on shoots.

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Your Luxury Travel Photography Workshop Includes

  • Daily photography instruction and coaching with one of the world’s foremost documentary photographers, Frank Hunter
  • Luxury boutique hotel accommodations including daily breakfast
  • Private guided visit to Tonina archeological site, an astounding off-the-beaten-path wonder that rivals Palenque, including a tailgate gourmet picnic
  • Private guided visit to indigenous Maya villages that includes lunch and a pre-arranged photo shoot
  • Discussions with local experts that can include textile collectors, archeologists and anthropologists
  • Welcome lunch
  • Grand Finale Dinner and Best of Week Group Photography Presentation

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Frank Hunter leads this workshop.  Frank is a world-class documentary photographer whose work is in museum collections throughout the world.  He is on the faculty of the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies in Durham, North Carolina and represented by Thomas Deans Fine Arts gallery in Atlanta, Georgia.

Frank grew up in the American southwest and spent his early years photographing people and landscapes of Mexico.  He has taught at the university level for more than 20 years.  Frank is a virtuoso photographer, as adept at digital photography as he is with creating 19th century style platinum/palladium prints.  Don’t be intimated!  Frank also teaches fundamentals of photography at Duke University.

You can read more about him here:

And, if you want more, just Google Frank Hunter.  You will get pages of citations!

Notes from the art gallery representing Frank Hunter:  In a career spanning more than three decades, Frank Hunter has published nearly 400 images, of which we show only a small selection here. All reflect Hunter’s unique combination of technical virtuosity and aesthetic profundity.

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You will learn to take your photography to the next level and see with inspired clarity.

During our week together, we will review each other’s work, give feedback, and offer supportive critique.  The workshop includes a mix of class instruction and being out on the streets to capture the action.   We offer structured group discussion and opportunities for optional private coaching sessions with Frank.

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Technical topics covered include using natural light, aperture and shutter speed, using a tripod, focusing on details, photographing people and taking the time to set up your shot.   Frank says he uses just enough technique to express a visual idea.  He comes from the point-of-view of using your creativity and intuition combined with technical know-how to make better photographs.

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Preliminary Itinerary

Day One:  Arrive and check in to our boutique La Joya Hotel in San Cristobal de Las Casas.  The fireplace will be lit and a bowl of soup with a glass of wine will be waiting for you.  (D)

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Day Two, Three, Four:  Meet with Frank after breakfast to learn, develop and hone your photography skills and aesthetics.  On Day Two we will gather for a welcome lunch.  In the afternoon, go out on the streets of San Cristobal de Las Casas to independently explore and capture the richness of people and place with your camera.  Come back in early evening for a Best of Day Photo Session to review and critique your shots. (B)

Day Five:  After breakfast, travel by private van to Tonina archeological site with a stop on our return in Oxchuc for textile exploration.  Spouses/partners are invited on the expedition and this is included in the program fees.   (B, L)

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Day Six:  After breakfast, meet for Best of Day Five photo review and learning session with the rest of the day on your own for a field assignment. (B)

Day Seven:  Travel by private van to an indigenous village (either San Juan Chamula and/or Zinacantan or Tenejapa and/or Cancuc.  Partners/spouses are invited and this day is included in the program fee.  (B, L)

Day Eight:  After breakfast, prepare and edit your final selections for a Best of Week Grand Finale Group Photography Presentation and Dinner.  Partners/spouses are invited to participate in the dinner and photography presentation and this is part of the program fee. (B, D)

Day Nine:  Depart after breakfast or make arrangements directly with La Joya Hotel to extend your stay. (B)

Each day is designed to give you personal learning time with Frank, plus plenty of time on your own to explore and discover the rich variety of art, architecture and indigenous Maya culture of San Cristobal de Las Casas and environs.  We are flexible and like to improvise (based on group preferences), so the preliminary itinerary is an outline that can vary depending upon other spontaneous opportunities that may present themselves.  Some options could include the Maya Medicine Museum, a healing ceremony with a local shaman, an impromptu invitation to a private home.

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Workshop Cost Includes Luxury Accommodations with an Option to Bring Your Partner/Spouse

4 luxury rooms with King bed, fireplace and private bath

  • Option 1–$3,685 for single person occupying one King room (includes photography workshop and lodging as specified in the itinerary.
  • Option 2–$5,585 for two people occupying one King room when both  participate fully in the workshop (includes workshop and lodging as specified in the itinerary).
  • Option 3–$4,850 for two people occupying one King room when one is a workshop participant, and the other is a non-photographer who is not participating in the workshop. 

Non-workshop partners/spouses join us for breakfast, a welcome lunch, scheduled field trips on Days Five and Seven, discussions with noted experts, and the final group photography presentation and gala dinner.  These activities are included in the cost of Option 3. 

  • 1 luxury twin room with two beds and private bath.  Option 4–$2,545 per person for shared accommodation with both people participating in the workshop.

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We are providing this extraordinary photography expedition in collaboration with San Cristobal’s newest gem, La Joya Hotel, offering the elegance of a boutique hotel and the hospitality of a bed and breakfast.  Our hosts are world travelers and art collectors Ann Conway and John Do who are happy to arrange customized daily excursions for partners/spouses at an added cost.  This might include guided travel for bird watching, hiking, visiting a coffee or cacao plantation, orchid greenhouse, handcrafted sterling silver and amber jewelry boutiques, museums, and indigenous regional markets for textile or pottery shopping.

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Partners/spouses can also enjoy a relaxing spa day, take a cooking class or Spanish lessons, adventure out on their own or relax and read in the secluded rooftop patios or graciously appointed private living room.  The choices are myriad.

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To add-on nights in San Cristobal de Las Casas either before or after the workshop or extend your travel to such destinations as the famed Maya archeological sites of Palenque, Bonampak and Yaxchilan, please contact Ann Conway at La Joya Hotel directly.

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Booking Your Travel and Getting to San Cristobal de Las Casas

You can fly round-trip directly to Tuxtla Gutierrez (TGZ) from Houston, TX, on United Airlines.  From Tuxtla we can arrange for airport taxi pick-up to bring you to San Cristobal de Las Casas if you wish.  Cost of transportation is about $60 USD.  Once you register and send us your flight information, please let us know if you would like this added service.

Your other options are to fly to Tuxtla directly from Mexico City on Aeromexico or Interjet.  ADO Platino offers luxury overnight bus service from Oaxaca and other cities in Mexico directly to San Cristobal de Las Casas.

Please Note:  Workshop fees include entries into museums, and archeological sites that are part of the itinerary.  We also make gifts on your behalf to local families who welcome us into their homes, cooperatives and studios.  The workshop does not include tips/gratuities for service, alcoholic beverages,  travel insurance, air flights, transfers from Tuxtla Gutierrez to San Cristobal de Las Casas, and meals that are not part of the specified itinerary.

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Reservations and Cancellations

A 50% deposit based on your preferred options is required to guarantee your workshop reservation.  The final payment for the balance due (including any additional costs) shall be paid two months before the program start date.  Payment is requested by PayPal.  We will send you an invoice when you tell us by email that you are ready to register.

We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible.  We have this service available and are happy to provide you with a cost.

To get your questions answered and to register, contact  Since we are in Oaxaca, Mexico, most of the year, we are happy to arrange a Skype conversation with you if you wish.

This program is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.

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Blessings and Benedictions: Art Makes a Home

Four years ago in anticipation of moving into the little casita in Teotitlan del Valle, I bought a painting by Oaxaca artist Pantaleon Ruiz Martinez, titled Sombras de Mi Ayer (Shadows of My Yesterday).

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He had just finished an exhibition in Mexico City and luckily the painting I loved had not sold.  I arranged to make periodic PayPal payments over several months to make the purchase seem more affordable.   Here are some photos from Pantaleon’s 2008 exhibition catalog Mis Memorias–Mis Sueños (My Memories–My Dreams).

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Then, when the construction took longer than expected, Pantaleon agreed to keep it in storage for me.  He had to hide it because people who came into his studio over the years wanted to buy it!

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When I got settled into the casita this last week, I asked Pantaleon if he would bring the painting and help me choose a place to hang it.  I had in mind a house blessing with a bit of mezcal to go along.  Without ART this is not really a HOME!  We picked the center of the wall over the sofa.  

Fortunately, I bought a drill and a concrete drill bit when I first moved in.  It comes in handy and I know how to use it.  With the help of his friend Venustiano, we got the painting hung in ten minutes.  The before and after shot of mezcal helped. 

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Then, there was cause the celebrate!  Las bendiciones por mi casa!  Pantaleon’s style of painting has changed and evolved over the last four years.  He is a multi-talented artist who is working in the Oaxaca graphics arts studio of Fernando Sandoval to make etchings, making collaborative metal sculpture in Mexico D.F., and has his hands in clay making pottery.

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I told someone recently that I would rather buy art than food.  Fortunately, with 20 handmade mole amarillo tamales in the refrigerator that costs $5 USD, I don’t need to make that choice.  Maybe, I should say art and fresh flowers are what it takes to make a house a home.  As we say in Zapotec, Chichi Bayo, salud, to good health, blessings.

When you come to Oaxaca, send Pantaleon an email to arrange a visit to his Teotitlan del Valle studio.  You will love meeting him .

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