Category Archives: Teotitlan del Valle

Day of the Dead 2019 Women’s Writing Retreat: How Memory Inspires Us

Arrive Wednesday, October 30 and leave Monday, November 4, 2019. The retreat can accommodate up to 10 women. You have a year to plan!

We gather for Day of the Dead 2019 in the traditional Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico to write with intention for five nights and four days. Day of the Dead inspires us to revisit our memories of people and places, to go deep and then deeper, and to write in whatever genre speaks to us: memoir, journaling, fiction, personal essay, creative nonfiction, and poetry.

New and seasoned writers are welcome. Come to kindle and rekindle the writer’s life.

Cost is $1,095 per person for a shared room, and $1,395 for a private room. A 50% deposit will reserve your space.

During this time, Oaxaca honors her ancestors: parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, young ones lost to tragedy. Loss surrounds us: loss of time, loss of relationships, loss of self and identity, loss of a loved one or someone with whom closure was incomplete.

Day of the Dead Altar

It is also a celebration of life, the continuum, the link between the generations before and the world we inhabit. During the workshop we discuss Day of the Dead symbols, meaning and concepts, comparing Mexican beliefs with those from our own cultures to spark memory and creativity. Perhaps we explore this in writing or use it as a device to trigger imagination.

Day of the Dead offers each of us an opportunity to explore the tenor of life, and the meaning of life and death, transition, passage, and relationships. Memory is powerful. Recall gives us permission to exhume and revisit, to sit with what is at the surface or buried deep within, to see beyond the mask. Writing gives outlet to self-expression whether your goal is to publish or not.

Day of the Dead, handmade tin, folds to 10-1/4×6-1/2″. For Sale, $95 + $8 mailing

Teotitlan del Valle is our base. It is an ancient weaving village about thirty minutes beyond the hubbub of the city where Day of the Dead rituals are practiced much as they were hundreds of years ago.

During our time together, we will integrate our writing practice with visits to San Pablo Villa de Mitla cemetery and a home altar on the morning of November 1 with a local weaver friend. Then, on the evening of November 2 we will go with a local family to the Teotitlan del Valle cemetery to guide the difuntos back to their resting places.

Calavera Artist, hand-painted, 8-1/2″ high x 3″ wide. For Sale, $85 + $8 mailing

Want to buy Muertos decor? Send an email.

There will be optional daily activities in our schedule: gentle yoga, afternoon walks, and mini-seminars on writing topics such as writing effective description and dialogue, grammar, or submitting creative work for publication. Each person will have a private coaching session, too.

Roses on the writing table with journal notes

Planned Itinerary: 2019

  • Wednesday, October 30: Arrive and check-in to our retreat space. Group dinner. Introductions.
  • Thursday, October 31: Morning yoga (optional), breakfast, writing workshop, lunch, afternoon independent writing, optional activities, group dinner, coaching session
  • Friday, November 1:  Morning yoga (optional), breakfast, visit to Mitla cemetery and home altar, independent writing, lunch,                afternoon workshop, group dinner, coaching session
  • Saturday, November 2:  Morning yoga (optional), breakfast, writing workshop, lunch, afternoon independent writing, visit to Teotitlan del Valle cemetery, dinner on your own
  • Sunday, November 3:  Morning yoga (optional) breakfast, writing workshop, lunch, afternoon independent writing, optional                    activities, group reading and celebration dinner
  • Monday, November 4:  Breakfast and depart

We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.

You can add-on days in Teotitlan del Valle or Oaxaca before or after the retreat at your own expense. We can arrange transportation for you to/from the airport and to/from the city at your own expense.

What is included?

  • Complete instruction with four workshop sessions
  • 4 dinners
  • 5 breakfasts
  • 4 lunches
  • 5 nights lodging
  • transportation to Mitla cemetery and altar
  • daily gentle yoga (optional)
  • mini-seminars on writing topics
  • one coaching session

Please bring a photo of a loved one. We will build a group altar, too.


Meet Robin Greene, Writer-Editor-Professor

http://www.robingreene-writer.com/artist-statement/

We are pleased that Robin Greene is returning to lead this intensive writer’s retreat. This will be her eighth year teaching with us to rave reviews.

Novelist and Poet Robin Greene in Oaxaca, Mexico

Robin Greene is Professor of English and Writing and Director of the Writing Center at Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC, where she held the McLean Endowed Chair in English from 2013-2016. Robin has published two collections of poetry (Memories of Light and Lateral Drift), two editions of a nonfiction book (Real Birth: Women Share Their Stories), and a novel (Augustus: Narrative of a Slave Woman). Robin’s second novel, The Shelf Life of Fire, is forthcoming from Light Messages Publishing in spring 2019, and Robin is currently working on a sequel.

Robin is a past recipient of a North Carolina-National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Writing, and has published over ninety pieces of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in literary journals. She has received two teaching awards, the latest of which, the Cleveland Award, received in 2017, is the most prestigious award offered by her university. Robin has given over a hundred academic presentations, literary readings, and writing workshops in a variety of venues throughout the US.

Additionally, Robin is a registered yoga teacher (RYT200), cofounder and editor of Longleaf Press, and cofounder of Sandhills Dharma Group, a Buddhist meditation group. She holds a M.A. in English from Binghamton University and a M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Art at Norwich University.

Day of the Dead, Some Links to Culture and Traditions

What is a Workshop Session? The group meets daily for three hours to actively listen to each other’s writing, giving supportive and constructive feedback about what resonates or not. We offer guidelines for the process. Everyone takes a turn to read and everyone participates. Writers may accept or reject suggestions. Workshops offer an important learning tool for writers to gain feedback about how their words are communicated and understood.

How to Register:  Cost is $1,095 per person for a shared room, and $1,395 for a private room. A 50% deposit will reserve your space. Send us an email to say you want to attend and if you want a shared or private room. We will send you a PayPal invoice to secure your space.

Reservations and Cancellations:  We accept payment with PayPal. We will send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. After September 15, 2018, refunds are not possible. You may send a substitute in your place. If you cancel on or before September 15, 2018 via email, we will refund 50% of your deposit.

Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance: We require that you carry international accident/health/$50,000 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 30 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!

How to Get To Oaxaca: United Airlines operates direct flights from Houston. American Airlines operates direct flights from DFW. Delta Airlines has a codeshare with AeroMexico with a connection to Oaxaca from Mexico City. All other major airlines fly to Mexico City where you can made independent connections on Interjet, and VivaAerobus. Check Skyscanner for schedules and fares before you book.  Note: I always book directly with the carrier for better customer service.

Plane Tickets, Arrivals/Departures: Please send us your plane schedule at least 30 days before the trip. This includes name of carrier, flight numbers, arrival and departure time from Oaxaca. We can arrange a Teotitlan del Valle taxi driver to pick you up from the airport or in the city to bring you to the retreat.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oaxaca Weaver in Raleigh-Durham, NC, October 17-21, 2018

Omar Chavez Santiago, a young talented weaver from Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, and Galeria Fe y Lola, will be in Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina for a set of talks, cochineal dye demonstrations and textile sales from October 17 to October 21, 2018. Events are open to the public.

Please attend and share widely! Thank you.

INDIO Durham

In addition to rugs, Omar will offer handbags, totes, shibori wool scarves, and other textiles for sale. All are colored with natural dyes.

Shibori scarves, dyed with cochineal, indigo, wild marigold

I am fortunate to call Teotitlan del Valle home, where I live a good part of the year with Omar’s family on their land on the outskirts of the village.

Oaxaca Cochineal Dye Workshop in Durham, North Carolina

Thanks to Wendy Sease at INDIO Durham, Omar Chavez Santiago is coming back to North Carolina in mid-October for a trunk show and natural cochineal dye workshop. He will also be demonstrating at Meredith College in a textile residency program.

Cochineal is the insect that produces carminic acid (think Campari, lipstick, yogurt), that tantalizing RED that the Aztecs, then Spanish adored.

Featured are:

  • Tapestry-loomed rugs hand-made with 100% natural dyes
  • Indigo blue dyed wool scarves and shawls in time for winter
  • Gorgeous hand-bags and totes, all with natural dyes

From October 27 to November 6, Omar is traveling to Philadelphia, Pa, and New York, NY, to exhibit, demonstrate and sell beautiful tapestry rugs at various locations. I’ll be posting the schedule soon. If you live in the NE Corridor, stay tuned!

 

Oaxaca What-Nots and Rugs, Settling Into North Carolina

I’ve been in North Carolina for a week, arriving safely on the tail of Hurricane Florence. In some parts here, it is still treacherous, but not where I live when I’m here in Durham, NC. My two pieces of luggage each weighed in at 49 pounds and some ounces. Maximum is 50 pounds without penalty.

SOLD. #1. All Naturals Lightening Rug. 57-1/2″ long x 31″ wide. $350 USD

#1 is all natural sheep wool in tones of grey, cream and brown, with traditional fringes. A complex design to weave. Shipping to anywhere in the USA is $8.

I stuffed them with what-nots and rugs, aprons (flouncy and more simple), stylish market tote bags, and a selection of Zayzelle dresses and pullover scarves. Some were pre-sold. Many were not. I guess this is what I do when I come to this part of home! Make Oaxaca available to you.

#2 Butterflies. All natural. 58-1/2″ long x 29-1/2″ wide. $260 USD

#2 is a butterfly motif accented with the mountains and rain pattern. $8 mailing to anywhere in USA. 

Catching up with friends, keeping routine medical appointments for check-ups, walking and sewing is what I do here. Not much different from life in Teotitlan del Valle in terms of activities, but lifestyle worlds apart.

SOLD. #3 Runner. 116″ long x 30″ wide. All natural wool. $385.

#3 is part of my collection, unused but stored for a couple of years. I’d like it to go out the door! It is large, so will weigh more and mailing is $26 USD to anywhere in the USA. 

#4. B&W Large Market Tote. Woven plastic. 20x13x5″ $55. Two available.

#4 is a snazzy, elegant tote, sturdy and functional with double straps. I use mine to carry an umbrella, farmer’s market produce, an extra wrap. I sling it over my shoulder and it goes along with me everywhere. Mailing is $8 to anywhere in USA. 

Here in NC there are no barking dogs, no corn fields, no mountains, no patio or terrace, no hand-made blue corn tortillas. Here, I get uninterrupted sleep. Here,  there is the pulse of urban life in a country that continues to need my attention. I will not give up my voice. Usually everyday I make a call or send a text to my U.S. Senator. Remember John McCain, I want to tell him. He would do the right thing.

SOLD. #5. All natural zigzag rug. 42″long x 28″ wide. $265.

#5 is a sawtooth zigzag rug in all the natural sheep colors. Note that fringes are tucked in for easy vacuuming. $8 to mail anywhere in the USA.

I brought a few rugs back woven by friends in Teotitlan del Valle who need the money. One family just had a new baby. The other has two daughters pursuing college educations — costly on a rug-weaver’s income. Another is by a woman who weaves for a family enterprise and wants a bit of her own money.

SOLD. #6 Zapotec Diamond with Feathers. 58-1/2″ long x 31″ wide. $295.

#6 is tones of gray sheep wool, accented with dark brown and hints of gold and cream. $8 to ship anywhere in USA. 

These weavers are not famous and their prices are modest in comparison to others. The quality is very good. I bought them outright at the asking prices to help and passing these savings on to you.

#7. Turquoise apron, size 38 (M-L). $55 + $8 mailing.

#8. Simple gingham apron, $20 + $8 mailing. Size M-L.

#9 Flouncy Artful Apron. Size M. $75 + $8 mailing.

#10. Raspberry Sateen Apron, Size S-M. $95 + $8 mailing.

If anything appeals to you, let me know by email. norma.schafer@icloud.com

Tell me

  • Your name and mailing address
  • The Item Number

I will then send you an invoice and as soon as I receive funds, I will package up and get it in the mail to you.

Thanks so much, Norma.

 

 

 

September 16: Viva Mexico, Independence Day from Spain

In villages and towns large and small, Independence Day is a big deal in Mexico. On September 16, 1810, the Grito, or Cry of Dolores was shouted by Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo in the Guanajuato town of Dolores (later renamed Dolores Hidalgo). On September 27, the revolutionaries, led by Augustin de Iturbide, marked into Mexico City to overtake the Spanish garrison. The rest is history.

Mexican Flag, La Bandera de Mexico, Zocalo, Mexico City

Even in the days preceding the celebration, even in the rain, I could hear the drum beat of the Banda de la Guerra (the military marching band) practicing in the middle school courtyard. This is a celebration where children are front and center.

Flags for sale from the back of a motorcycle, a size for everyone.

Most homes have flags flying. The moto-taxis are adorned in banners and flags featuring the red, white and green bandera (flag).

Red, white and green as a food display.

On the late afternoon of September 15, my Zapotec family celebrated family matriarch Dolores’ birthday, named so because she was born on this special day. The Cry of Dolores is an important part of political and social acculturation, just like singing the Star Spangled Banner.

My chakira (beaded) flag blouse, stained with guajillo chile sauce at supper, soaking

Here in Teotitlan del Valle, the celebration begins on September 15. After the marching band leads the parade of young costumed girls through the streets, the townspeople gather in the municipal square. The late afternoon brings the threat of rain, but none comes.

A drum for every child? Why not!

At 11:00 p.m. everyone shouts the Cry for Independence together and the event is followed with firecrackers and rockets. The dogs bark and donkeys bray.

Chiles en Nogada at Oaxaca’s Los Danzantes. Traditional for Independence Day.

I put in my earplugs to get a good night’s sleep because I have a long travel day on September 17, starting at 3:30 a.m. and I want to walk the dogs in the campo where it is quiet and meditative.

There is more celebration today. Viva Mexico!