If you were to arrive in the village with a taxi driver or via tourist bus, you would have an entirely different experience than if you chose to travel independently. On your own, you might do some research in advance to identify the weavers working with the best wool, using higher count warp threads and only natural dyes, which could take time and study. Then, you would need to figure out how to get to Teotitlan del Valle — on a public bus, a shared collectivo taxi, or a taxi hired for transport only. I am the first to admit, jumping on a tour bus could be convenient (although, I’ve never done it, I can certainly understand it) and saves some time. But it will cost you an authentic experience.
My friends Eric Chavez Santiago and Elsa Sanchez Diaz are both graduates of the tourism program at Universidad Anahuac de Oaxaca. Eric is a very accomplished weaver who lectures and demonstrates weaving and dyeing techniques at museums, universities and galleries in the U.S. and Elsa is a cultural liaison and interpreter. Both have 10-year travel visas to the U.S. They want to create real experiences for visitors to meet Teotitlan weavers who are committed to working only in natural dyes. If you go to our website: www.oaxacaculture.com we have an explanation about the importance of continuing the traditions of using natural dyes — for historic and cultural preservation and for health. The toxic chemical dye vapors that indigenous weavers breathe is creating early onset lung disease, emphysema and some cancers. So, there are important reasons to support weavers who work with natural dyes, beyond the aesthetics of a more beautiful rug. If visitors can differentiate quality and only purchase rugs made with natural dyes, then more people in the village will dye their wool this way. Elsa and Eric have contacted weavers in the village who they know work ONLY with natural dyes and have asked them to be part of a self-guided walking map of the village that the two are creating. The map will include local spots of interest, lodging and dining suggestions, and contact information. Travelers can contact Elsa to purchase the map. If travelers desire, Elsa will personally guide them, and provide round-trip transportation to and from the village from Oaxaca City. The idea is to showcase the village from the perspective of those who live there, engaging in discussions about customs traditions and history with local experts, exploring the back alleys to meet weavers, or perhaps dining in the home of an accomplished cook. Elsa and Eric want to offer day visits, overnight stays, and residencies and workshops for artists, university students and teachers. If you’d like more information about this, let me know, or contact Elsa Sanchez Diaz directly at email: firstname.lastname@example.org In Oaxaca, call her at 01(951)51-43069.