Monthly Archives: December 2010

Travel Guide to Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca: Self-Guided Tour Map

You have been asking for a self-guided tour map that highlights my favorite artists and artisans in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico.  I have been promising to create and publish this map for some time!  It’s now completed and I am offering it for sale at $10 USD for one copy.

How to order?  Click on the PayPal “Buy Now” link below.  As soon as the transaction is complete, I send you an email PDF file of the map that you can print out at home.  The map is copyrighted and may not be duplicated or reproduced in any way without my permission.  You are entitled to print out one copy for your personal use!  (Honor Code)  Thank you.

Preview Image

The map highlights 12 favorite stops in the village.  Here’s what’s included:

  • The weaving studio of the Chavez Santiago Family — Federico Chavez Santiago and his wife Dolores Santiago Arrellanas.  They only work in natural dyes and 100% wool.
  • Bii Dauu Weaving Cooperative, a great source for naturally dyed wool shawls, scarves and handbags.
  • Arte y Seda, the family that cultivates silk worms, spins the silk, dyes it with natural materials, and makes glorious clothing.
  • The studio of Pantaleon Ruiz Martinez, painter, weaver, and jewelry designer.
  • La Vida Nueva women’s cooperative, a social justice and support organization for single women.
  • Casa Santiago for lovely handmade handbags with leather handles.
  • Restaurante Terra Antigua owned and operated by Carina Santiago.
  • Restaurante El Descanso.
  • Las Granadas Bed and Breakfast.
  • Annie Burns, shiatsu massage therapist.
  • The Sacred Bean Coffee House
  • Hiking trails to the dam
  • Beeswax candle maker
  • The church, the market, the archeological ruins, the community museum, and the cemetery.

Round Trip to Oaxaca $440 Today; Posted on TravelocitydotCom

Locator map for the state of Oaxaca within Mexico.

Image via Wikipedia

Okay, it’s Friday.  That blows the pattern of Tuesday being airfare sale day.  Those Tricksters. As my friend Kathleen says, they just love to play with your mind and make nothing predictable.  This is a SHORT post:  If you are thinking about participating on the March 4-10, 2011 Oaxaca Women’s Writing Retreat, don’t hesitate. JUMP ON IT today.  From RDU to IAH to OAX, the RT fare on Continental with a Travelocity booking today is $440 including taxes.

Okay, that’s it.



Five Meaningful Books About Mexico to Recommend and Why

I travel to Oaxaca, Mexico, regularly and someday, hopefully soon, I will be there more frequently for longer periods of time.  I am fascinated by the richness and vibrancy of the culture, archeology, history and art.  Art is everywhere.  From the food in the markets to the textiles and crafts to fine art expressed through painting and sculpture and the ballads vocalized by Lila Downs and Susana Harp.  There is tradition in Mexico that is manifested through form, color and texture.

As a consequence, I am most apt to select my reading material based on its relevancy to Mexico, Oaxaca, political and historical developments, and artistic expression.  I recently completed reading  (1)The Lacuna” by Barbara Kingsolver.  It is an extraordinary novel about a writer raised in Mexico and influenced by the icons of the thirties, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Leon Trotsky  The book explores the dichotomy of identity that is so prevalent among Mexican social and cultural position — the duality of indigenous and Spanish heritage, asking the question: Where do I belong?

(2) I just ordered and received “Oaxacan Ceramics: Traditional Folk Art by Oaxacan Women” by Wellesley College professor Lois Wasserspring.  I recently met Lois and we talked about the extraordinary pottery created by Dolores Porras who recently died and is featured in her book.  I am fortunate to have a few of Dolores’ pieces.

(3) Another favorite is “Zapotec Women, Gender, Class and Ethnicity in Globalized Oaxaca” by cultural anthropologist and professor Lynn Stephen who teaches at the University of Oregon.  The title says it all.  While it is a college text, it is a great read and if you are interested in women’s issues, roles and rights in Mexico, you’ll find this informative and not dense.

(4) Right next to that is “Made in Mexico: Zapotec Weavers and the Global Ethnic Art Market” by W. Warner Wood, assistant professor of anthropology and museum studies at Central Washington University.  He describes the economic forces that drive prices and production of handwoven textiles in Teotitlan del Valle.

(5) Finally, “Zapotec Weavers of Teotitlan” by Andra Fischgrund Stanton features fabulous photographs of handwoven tapestry rugs and other textiles made by master weavers in the village, including my friend Federico Chavez Sosa. It includes personal stories and family histories, along with weaving techniques and materials used for dyeing wool.

I never cease to be amazed by the talent in Oaxaca.  These books are treasures to enrich my understanding and appreciation of this incredible region.


Holiday Gifts: Experiences, Not Things

So much is being written now about gift-giving in this season of caring and thoughtfulness when folks are feeling skittish about their economic well-being.  We are looking inward, examining what is most meaningful in life, assessing the the true value of loving relationships and how that translates into expressing our feelings during this special time of year.  Academics, analysts and psychologists are writing more and more about what is most meaningful to people and what adds value to our lives.  The conclusion is that it is the experiences we invest in that have the most staying power.  Things are transient and wear out.  Tastes change.  But the memory of an experience adds richness and dimension to our lives.

My daughter-in-law Rochelle just wrote to me that they are happy to be spending Christmas eve with us, spending the day and staying overnight before going off to her parents for Christmas day.  She said let’s forgo gifts and give each other the gift of a special food or wine.  I told her that the gift of their being with us was all I needed, and I meant it.  We will all cook and eat together, sit in front of the fire, share memories, take a walk, and that will be memorable and feed my soul for a long time.

Much has been written in the last decade about living simply.  Magazines have been published that focus on this and Martha Stewart, the Queen of Induglences,  has included a special regular feature in her various media outlets.  This is a good time to reflect upon and re-examine what is most important to us and what we do to nurture creativity for ourselves and those we love, while paying attention to how to live closer to our core values.   These are not the high-rolling 1990’s that was punctuated by ENRON and Wall Street bonus-driven derivatives.  The bubble has burst . (Not many of us have the capacity or desire now, nor did we then, to express ourselves through lavish gift giving or sustaining grand lifestyles.)

Low-cost, low-impact eco- and adventure travel is one way to nourish ourselves.  This is the type of travel experience that brings you close to the people, adds a personal dimension, and might include an educational component.  One of the reasons I created Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC was to open doors to a shared cross-cultural experience that would be affordable and help support the families I know in Oaxaca.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

If you are thinking about ways you can give a different type of gift this year, for yourself or someone you love, consider the gift of one of our programs.  It will provide a lifetime of memories and open horizons beyond your dreams.

Oaxaca Photography Expedition: Market Towns and Artisan Villages

Oaxaca Women’s Writing Retreat: Lifting Your Creative Voice


Teotitlán del Valle; Mexico’s Famous Village of Rug Weavers Read more at Suite101: Teotitlán del Valle: Mexico’s Famous Village of Rug Weavers

Many of you know that Christine Zenino, Chicago-based travel writer and photographer, participated in our recent Oaxaca Day of the Dead Documentary Photography Workshop, October 2010.  Chrissy writes for Suite 101 and just posted this story on November 30, 2010.  It is a lovely reflection of the village and tapestry weaving. I want to share it with you.

Coming up:  June 29-July 5, 2011 — Oaxaca Photography Expedition:  Market Towns and Artisan Villages.  For a complete description, click HERE.