Arrive Wednesday, October 30 and leave Monday, November 4, 2019. The retreat can accommodate up to 10 women.
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 dig in and go deep, 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.
All single rooms sold out. Shared rooms only.
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
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.
Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance: We require that you carry international accident/health/emergency evacuation insurance with a minimum of $50,000 of medical evacuation coverage. Proof of insurance must be sent at least 45 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 to/from our program destination.
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 September 1, 2019, refunds are not possible. If there is a cancelation on or before September 1, 50% of your deposit will be refunded. After 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: The altitude is almost 6,000 feet. Streets and sidewalks are cobblestones, mostly narrow and have uneven paths. The stones can be a bit slippery, especially when walking across driveways that slant across the sidewalk to the street. We will do some walking. If you have mobility issues or health/breathing impediments, please let me know before you register. This may not be the workshop/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.
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.
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.
Day of the Dead — Dia de los Muertos — Is it Halloween?
Today is Halloween in El Norte, the northern part of North America aka USA. In southern North America aka Mexico, the celebration is very different. And, the border is more permeable so iconic images of carved pumpkins, witches on broomsticks, and the call of trick or treat are becoming part of the Mexican holiday landscape.
Catholic Halloween (imported to Latin America from Spain) has three components:
It is likely the Spanish moved indigenous ancestor worship celebration and traditions to these dates to coincide with teaching the new religion. In many Oaxaca villages, the celebrations occur on one of these three days. You need to know where and when.
Here in Durham, North Carolina, Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos, takes on the flavor of Mexico and is celebrated beyond the barrio. I suspect that many cities and towns with Mexican and Central American immigrants have incorporated the images, if not the practices, of Muertos into Halloween.
My annual celebration is on November 2, All Soul’s Day, which is when Muertos is observed in my Oaxaca home village of Teotitlan del Valle.
I build an altar. Decorate it with cempasuchitl (aromatic marigolds), offerings of food and beverages that my parents loved. My dad gets a beer. My mom gets green tea. There is bread and chocolate — a requirement. No bagels and lox in Durham, so I make do with something else. I light candles. Arrange the sugar skulls. Put their photos on the table. Sit and remember. This is ecumenical.
Paul Cezanne contemplates mortality in this still life
Death in the Mexican culture is synonymous with life. It is a time to celebrate life in all its forms and think about the continuity. Muertos is when the loved ones return to visit. It is a chance to talk to them, to thank them, to honor them and to consider how they gave us life. If we had unresolved issues, we can discuss those with them, too. It is very healthy and healing, like a prayer.
2019 Day of the Dead Women’s Writing Retreat
Pan de Muertos
Here are some links of past blog posts I have written over the years that explain Day of the Dead. Please feel free to read and pass along. Lots of photos in these links, too!
Papier mache flying devil bridges the spirit world
Let us know how you will celebrate and remember.
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Oaxaca Mexico art and culture, Teotitlan del Valle, Travel & Tourism
Tagged day of the dead, dia de los muertos, Halloween