Oaxaca Day of the Dead Women’s Creative Writing Retreat 2022

Arrive Saturday, October 28 and leave Saturday, November 4, 2022.

We gather for Day of the Dead 2019 in the traditional Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico to write with intention for eight days and seven nights. 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. We are here to express our relationship with life, death, love, loss and mourning. Day of the Dead is a launching pad to kindle memory.

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

Cost is $1,995 per person for a shared room, and $2,495 for a private room. A $500 non-refundable deposit will reserve your space.

There are 3 shared rooms available and 7 single rooms available. First come, first served.

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. We approach writing this week within this framework.

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. Together, we will build a group altar to remember our own loved ones, going to the village market to shop for altar decorations.

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.

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 and a home altar spending the day on November 1 with a local weaver friend to go deep into family traditions. 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.

Visit to bag-making studio in Teotitlan del Valle

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.

We will also schedule visits to local artisans to see how they make their work, as well as visit their altars and learn more about family beliefs and practices.

Roses on the writing table with journal notes

Planned Itinerary: 2022

  • Friday, October 28: Arrive and check-in to our retreat space. We suggest you arrive a day early to avoid unplanned travel delays.
  • Saturday, October 29: Morning yoga (optional), breakfast, writing workshop, lunch, afternoon independent writing, optional activities, group dinner, coaching session
  • Sunday, October 30: Morning yoga (optional), breakfast, visit to Teotitlan del Valle market to shop for altar decor, independent writing, lunch, afternoon workshop, group dinner, coaching session
  • Monday, October 31: Morning yoga (optional), breakfast, writing workshop, lunch, afternoon independent writing, visit to artisan homes to view altars/demonstrations, group dinner
  • Tuesday, November 1:  Morning yoga (optional) breakfast, visit to Mitla for Day of the Dead history and traditions, traditional lunch, evening independent writing, optional activities, group dinner
  • Wednesday, November 2: Morning yoga (optional), breakfast, writer’s workshop, chocolate making and tamale making demonstration with traditional lunch and Teotitlan de Valle cemetery visit, group dinner
  • Thursday, November 3: Breakfast. Day on your own. Gala final dinner and reading
  • Friday, November 4: 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 five workshop sessions
  • 7 dinners
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 5 lunches
  • 7 nights lodging
  • transportation to Mitla 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.

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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 ninth year teaching with us to rave reviews.

Novelist and Poet Robin Greene in Oaxaca, Mexico

Robin Greene is Professor Emerita of English and Writing and retired 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 and is a certified yoga practitioner.

Day of the Dead, Some Links to Culture and Traditions

What is a Workshop Session? The group meets daily for about 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 $1995 per person for a shared room, and $2695 for a private room. A non-refundable $500 deposit will reserve your space. Send us an email to mailto:norma.schafer@icloud.com to to o 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. The balance will be due in two equal payments. The first payment will be due on February 1, 2022. The second and final payment will be due on July 1, 2022.

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 Square, Venmo or Zelle. We will send you an invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. After July 1, 2022, refunds are not possible. If you cancel on or before July 1, 2022, 50% of your deposit will be refunded, less the $500 reservation fee. After that, there are no refunds.

To further explain: if we cancel, participants receive a 100% refund. 

Travelers are required to take out international travel insurance. If you are too sick to travel and/or come down with covid, or your flights are cancelled or any other legitimate reason, you would file a claim for reimbursement with the insurance company. 

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.

Proof of covid vaccine is required, with up-to-date boosters. If still required, we will arrange for covid tests at your own expense (estimated $80) to exit Mexico and re-enter the USA.

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.

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