Chiapas Textiles + Folk Art Study Tour: Deep Into the Maya World — February 26-March 7, 2019
Cost • $2,495 double room with private bath (sleeps 2) • $2,995 single room with private bath (sleeps 1)
We are based in the historic Chiapas mountain town of San Cristobal de las Casas, the center of the Maya world in Mexico. Here we will explore the textile traditions of ancient people who weave on back strap looms.
Women made cloth on simple looms here long before the Spanish conquest in 1521 and their techniques translate into stunning garments admired and collected throughout the world today. Colorful. Vibrant. Warm. Exotic. Connecting. Words that hardly describe the experience that awaits you.
We are committed to give you a rich cultural immersion experience that goes deep rather than broad. We cover a lot of territory. That is why we are spending nine nights in this amazing Pueblo Magico — Magic Town — to focus on Maya textiles and weaving traditions.
Our day trips will take us into villages, homes and workshops to meet the people who keep their traditions vibrant. This is an interpersonal experience to better know and appreciate Mexico’s amazing artisans.
Study Tour Limited to 12 Participants
There will be only ONE study tour to Chiapas in 2019.
Take this study tour to learn about:
• the culture, history and identity of cloth • spinning wool and weaving with natural dyes
• clothing design and construction
• symbols and meaning of textile designs
• choice of colors and fibers that reflect each woman’s aesthetic while keeping with a particular village traje or costume
• mystical folk medicine practices that blend Maya ritual and Spanish Catholicism
• Chiapas folk art and handcrafts
• Chiapas amber — rare and affordable gemstone
• market days and village mercantile economy
• local cuisine, coffee and chocolate
• how to determine the best textile quality and value
• cultural history, nuances and the sociopolitical history of Maya people
I have invited author and textile collector Sheri Brautigam to join me to give you a special, in-depth experience. Sheri writes the blog Living Textiles of Mexico and is recognized for her particular knowledge of Chiapas Maya textiles. She is author of the Thrums Textile Fiestas of Mexico: A Traveler’s Guide to Celebrations, Markets, and Smart Shopping. (I’ve contributed two chapters with photos, one for Tenancingo de Degollado and the other for Teotitlan del Valle!) Recommended reading for the trip!
What About Earthquake Damage?
The 2017 earthquake caused some damage to facades and structures in San Cristobal de Las Casas, but repair work is underway. There should be no impact on the itinerary. No one canceled our 2018 tours because of the earthquake!
I have also engaged one of San Cristobal’s most well-informed guides, born and raised in San Cristobal, a fluent English-speaker who will travel with us to give bi-lingual services. His interest is in cultural anthropology and local history.
We will travel in a luxury Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van as we go deep into the Maya world.
Tuesday, February 26: Travel day. Arrive and meet me at our hotel in San Cristobal de las Casas. I will send you complete directions for how to get from the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport to our hotel. The airport is a clean and modern facility with straightforward signage. You will book your flight to Tuxtla from Mexico City on either Interjet or Volaris or Aeromexico. There are plenty of taxis and shuttle services to take you there. Cost of transportation (about $55USD) from airport to San Cristobal is on your own. Those who have arrived by dinner time can go out for an optional meal, on your own.
Wednesday, February 27: On our first day in San Cristobal de las Casas, we orient you to the Textiles in the Maya World. You will learn about weaving and embroidery traditions, patterns and symbols, women and villages, history and culture. After a breakfast discussion we will visit Centro Textiles Mundo Maya museum, Sna Jolobil Museum Shop for fine regional textiles, and meander the Santo Domingo outdoor market that takes over the plaza in front of the church. We will then guide you along the walking streets to get your bearings. (B, L, D)
Thursday, February 28: Tenejapa is about an hour and a world away from San Cristobal de Las Casas. Today is market day when villagers line the streets filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and often textiles. We’ll meander the market to see what’s there. In years past, I’ve found some stunning shawls, huipils and bags here. Then, we will visit the outstanding textile cooperative founded by Pedro Meza and his mother Doña Maria Meza Giron. We will then continue on up another mountain to visit Maruch (Maria), a Chamulan woman in her rural home surrounded by sheep and goats. She will demonstrate back strap loom weaving and wool carding, and how she makes long-haired wool skirts, tunics and shawls. Perhaps there will be some treasures to consider.
We’ll also stop in Romerillo to see the larger than life pine-bough covered Maya blue and green crosses. Return to San Cristobal del Las Casas and dinner on your own. Lunch along the way. Return to San Cristobal de Las Casas in time for dinner on your own. (B, L)
Friday, March 1: We go to a wonderful weaving cooperative outside of town that was founded over 40 years ago. You will learn about international collaborations and textile design that conserves traditions while meeting marketplace needs for exquisite and utilitarian cloth. In the early evening, we visit Museo de Trajes Regionales and humanitarian healer Sergio Castro, who has a large private collection of Maya indigenous daily and ceremonial dress representing each Chiapas region. (B, L)
Saturday, March 2: Amantenango del Valle and Aguacatenango to see the whimsical and functional wood and dung fired pottery – the way its been done for centuries. Wonderful roosters, spotted jaguar sculptures and ornamental dishes. This is a textile village, too, where women embroider garments with designs that look like graphic art. In neighboring Aguacatenango, we will pull up to the small zocalo in front of the church. Within moments, ladies with their beautiful embroidered blouses will appear. (B, L) Dinner on your own.
Sunday, March 3: This is a big day! First we go to San Lorenzo Zinacantan, where greenhouses cover the hillsides. Here, indigenous dress is embellished in exquisite floral designs, mimicking the flowers they grow. First we visit the church, bedecked in fresh flowers. Then, we’ll meet weavers and embroiderers in their home workshops. Next stop is magical, mystical San Juan Chamula where the once-Catholic church is given over to a pre-Hispanic pagan religious practice that involves chickens, eggs and coca-cola. We’ll roam Chamula’s abundant textile market, compare and contrast fabrics and designs. (B, L) Dinner on your own.
Monday, March 4: We will set out by foot after breakfast for a full morning at Na Balom, Jaguar House, the home/of anthropologist Franz Blom and his photographer wife, Gertrude Duby Blom. The house is now a museum filled with pre-Hispanic and jewelry collections. We walk the gardens and learn about Trudy’s work with the Lacandon tribe and relationship with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. After hot chocolate at Na Balom, we make a stop at the hand-made paper workshop that is also a graphics arts hand-print studio. You will have the afternoon and evening on your own. (B)
Tuesday, March 5: Today, we make a study tour to the textile villages of San Andres Larrainzer and Magdalena Aldama. This is another ultimate cultural experience to immerse yourself with a family of weavers in a rural home. We will see how they weave and embroider beautiful, fine textiles, ones you cannot find in the city markets or shops. They will host an expoventa for us, and we will join them around the open hearth for a warming meal of free range chicken soup, house made tortillas, and of course, a sip of posh! (B, L))
Wednesday, March 6: Men from Magdalena Aldama who weave bags made from ixtle, agave cactus leaf fiber, join us at our hotel after breakfast. Accompanying them are the women who make flashy beaded necklace strings and beautiful hand-woven huipils. Afternoon is on your own to do last minute shopping and packing in preparation for your trip home. We end our study tour with a gala group goodbye dinner. (B, D)
Thursday, March 7: Depart. We will coordinate departures with included van service from San Cristobal de las Casas to the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport. We will offer one-scheduled van service that is covered in your fees, based on departure time for the majority. It takes 1-1/2 hours to get to Tuxtla, plus an hour for check-in. You will connect from Tuxtla to Mexico City and then on to your home country. If you are going from Tuxtla to Oaxaca, you can fly direct on AeroMar. We will coordinate departure times and your trip will cover the cost of transportation from the hotel to the airport.
What Is Included
• 9 nights lodging at a top-rated San Cristobal de las Casas hotel within easy walking distance to the historic center
• 9 breakfasts • 6 lunches • 2 dinners
• museum and church entry fees
• luxury van transportation
• outstanding and complete guide services
• group transfers to Tuxtla Gutierrez airport from San Cristobal on March 8, one morning departure
The workshop does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation as specified in the itinerary. We reserve the right to substitute instructors and alter the program as needed.
Cost • $2,495 double room with private bath (sleeps 2) • $2,995 single room with private bath (sleeps 1)
- 1/3 of total balance due immediately to register and confirm
- Second 1/3 payment due on or before October 1, 2018
- Third and final 1/3 balance due on or before December 15, 2018
How to Register: Send an email to Norma Schafer.
Tell us if you want a shared/double room or a private/single room. We will send you a PayPal invoice that is due on receipt.
Who Should Attend • Textile and fashion designers • Weavers, embroiderers and collectors • Home goods wholesalers/retailers who want a direct source • Photographers and artists who want inspiration • Anyone who loves cloth, culture and collaboration
Reservations and Cancellations. We accept payment with PayPal only. We will send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. After December 15, 2018, refunds are not possible. If there is a cancelation on or before December 15, 50% of your deposit will be refunded. Aft that, there are no refunds.
All documentation for plane reservations, required travel insurance, and personal health issues must be received 45 days before the program start or we reserve the right to cancel your registration without reimbursement.
Terrain, Walking and Group Courtesy: San Cristobal de las Casas is a hill-town in south central Chiapas, the Mexican state that borders Guatemala. The altitude is 7,000 feet. Streets and sidewalks are cobblestones, mostly narrow and have high curbs. The stones can be a bit slippery, especially when walking across driveways that slant across the sidewalk to the street. We will do a lot of walking. Being here is a walker’s delight because there are three flat streets devoted exclusively to walking. If you have mobility issues or health/breathing impediments, please let me know before you register. This may not be the study tour for you. Traveling with a small group has its advantages and also means that independent travelers will need to make accommodations to group needs and schedule. We include plenty of free time to go off on your own if you wish.
Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance: We require that you carry international accident/health/emergency evacuation insurance. Proof of insurance must be sent at least 30 days before departure. In addition, we will send you by email a PDF of a witnessed waiver of responsibility, holding harmless Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We ask that you return this to us by email 45 days before departure. Unforeseen circumstances happen! Be certain your passport has at least six months on it before it expires from the date you enter Mexico!
Plane Tickets, Arrivals/Departures: Please send us your plane schedule at least 45 days before the trip. This includes name of carrier, flight numbers, arrival and departure time from San Cristobal.
Workshop Details and Travel Tips. Before the workshop begins, we will email you study tour details and documents that includes travel tips and information. To get your questions answered and to register, contact Norma Schafer. This retreat is produced by Norma Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.