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Norma writes for Selvedge Magazine Issue #109 -- Rise Up, November 2022
Norma Writes for Selvedge Latin Issue #89
What is a Study Tour: Our programs are designed as learning experiences, and as such we talk with weavers about how and why they create, what is meaningful to them in their designs, the ancient history of patterning and design, use of color, tradition and innovation, values and cultural continuity, and the social context within which they work. First and foremost, we are educators. Norma worked in top US universities for over 35 years and Eric founded the education department at Oaxaca’s textile museum. Our interest is in creating connection and artisan economic development.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
- Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
Study Toursd are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's greatest artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized. We give you access to where people live and work. Yes, it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited in size for the most personal experience.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, universities and other organizations come to us to develop weaving relationships, customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Select Clients *Selvedge Magazine-London, UK *Esprit Travel and Tours *Penland School of Crafts *North Carolina State University *WARP Weave a Real Peace *Methodist University *MINNA-Goods *Smockingbird Kids
Tell us how we can put a program together for you! Send an email email@example.com
- WEAVE Podcast: Oaxaca Coast Textiles & Tour
- NY Times, Weavers Embrace Natural Dye Alternatives
- NY Times, Open Thread–Style News
- NY Times, 36-Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico
- Cooking Classes–El Sabor Zapoteco
- Currency Converter
- Fe y Lola Rugs by Chavez Santiago Family
- Friends of Oaxaca Folk Art
- Hoofing It In Oaxaca Hikes
- Living Textiles of Mexico
- Mexican Indigenous Textiles Project
- Museo Textil de Oaxaca
- Oaxaca Lending Library
- Oaxaca Weather
- Taller Teñido a Mano Natural Dyes
Oaxaca’s Monte Alban Archeological Site Key to Zapotec Civilization
The UNESCO World Heritage archeological site of Monte Alban never ceases to capture and hold my attention. I go there every time I host visitors to Oaxaca and each time there is something new that I notice or an area that is recently restored.
The Spanish conquerors named Monte Alban, or white mountain, because the hill was in bloom with white flowering trees when they arrived. This week, the sky was nearly flawless blue with outstanding big, white cloud formations. I don’t remember a more beautiful, breathtaking day here.
The best way to enter the site is to begin on the north platform, the highest place. After you go through the ticket turn-style make a right turn and continue up the hill. The path isn’t well-marked, but the trail is well-traveled, so you will figure it out. Even though it looks daunting, be sure to climb the pyramids.
Otherwise, you will miss the most stunning views. On the main level of the platform you will see carved stones depicting men captured in war. Called Los Danzantes, or dancers, these are replicas. The originals are in the museum on site and in the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City.
Summer in Oaxaca is very temperate and GREEN. Now, the rainy season that brings torrents of water is almost over, and so we may get a late afternoon or evening shower, which is lovely, and tends to cools things off — a perfect temperature for sleeping.
By the time we arrived at Monte Alban, it was almost ten-thirty in the morning, and the sun was already strong. Our guide extraordinaire, Rene Cabrera Arroyo, was prepared and had plenty of bottled water for us.
It took about two hours to walk the site and get a complete explanation of Zapotec history, conquests, relationships with the Aztecs and Mixtecs, and the political and religious structure at the time they were at the height of their power.
Of course, we had to stop to look at the clay replicas of the found objects in the Monte Alban tombs made by local craftsmen from Arrazola. The figures are all hand formed and the sellers — who are the artisans — are licensed by Monte Alban to create and sell their wares. Prices are reasonable and there’s room for a little bargaining to make it more fun — if you must! (Remember, the dollar to peso value is in favor of the visitor so don’t drive a hard bargain.)
It’s Guelaguetza time and Monte Alban crawling with visitors who come to Oaxaca from throughout Mexico and many foreign countries. I am hearing a cacophony of languages: German, British English, Australian English, Dutch, French, Japanese and Chinese, as well as Spanish and American English.
Oaxaca is a wonderful place to visit and bring the family for summer vacation. It’s safe, educational, fun and affordable. Entry fees are 59 pesos per person. That translates to about $4.25 each. We’d love to see you here!
After Monte Alban, we went off to Atzompa, the nearby village of potters who supplied the priests and nobles with utilitarian and ceremonial clay vessels.
My advice: wear sturdy shoes for rock climbing, use a sun hat, sun screen, and pack a water bottle — as important as your camera! And, consider hiring a licensed guide who knows the in-depth history of the place. It will enrich your visit.