Registration is now open. A $750 non-refundable deposit will reserve your space. We offered this tour first to those who expressed interest a couple of months ago, and we have filled seven out of fourteen spaces. We hope that if you want to go to Guatemala with us in February 2025, you won’t hesitate to tell us and send your deposit as soon as possible!
Guatemala Textile Study Tour: Cloth and Culture will be held February 6-15, 2025, nine nights and ten days. Join Olga Reiche, Eric Chavez Santiago, and Norma Schafer to explore Maya hand weaving, natural dyeing techniques, markets, and remote artisan villages where women work on back strap looms.
We begin first in Antigua, Guatemala’s colonial city where the Spanish conquest left its mark on art, architecture, food and culture. Antigua, founded in 1524, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After settling into our hotel, we meet Olga, visit her Indigo studio where she dyes threads with natural plants that she provides to weavers with whom she works in the Coban region where they make fine gauze textiles using the pikbil technique. Later in the tour we will visit this region, off the beaten path where few venture.
We also visit master weaver Lidia Lopez, who Norma met at the Santa Fe Folk Art Market this year. Lidia also attended and exhibited at the 2023 WARP annual conference. Her rendition of flower gardens in her weaving is nothing short of extraordinary.
Of course, we travel to Panajachel, take a boat launch across Lake Atitlan, and visit weaving cooperatives there with whom Olga has relationships. Before going to Lake Atitlan, we spend time at the famed Chichicastenango market. I was there in the mid-2000’s and was amazed by the indigenous Maya culture, mysticism practiced in the church — a testimony to syncretism that blends ancient beliefs with Catholicism, and one of the most vibrant outdoor marketplaces in Latin America. The abundance of textiles is beyond belief! As we meander, we will have expert guidance on textile iconography, region, quality, and rarity.
From Chichi, we travel to Coban to meet Amalia Gue, who many collectors know as being one of the greatest weavers of fine gauze cloth. Amalia has exhibited at the Santa Fe Folk Art Market, the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, and we have invited her to Oaxaca Cultural Navigator expoventas at our Taller Teñido a Mano dye studio and weaving workshop in Teotitlan del Valle. In addition, we spend several days in this area to discover other talented artisanbs who also work in the same pikbil gauze weaving technique.
We make our way back to Antigua via Lake Atitlan and Panajachel to explore villages accessible only by boat, where women are also weaving huipiles and blusas using naturally dyed threads.
Preliminary Itinerary: February 6 – 15, 2025, 9 nights, 10 days
Day 1, Thursday, February 6: Arrive to Guatemala City, travel to Antigua before 4 p.m. by airport shuttle (at your own expense) to avoid traffic. Check in to our group hotel. Dinner included.
Day 2, Friday, February 7: Drive to San Antonio Aguas Calientes to visit the town and Lidia Lopez home with a textile weaving demonstration. Then, we visit Olga Reiche´s Studio at San Juan Del Obispo, with natural dye demonstration and discussion about natural dyes. Lunch at La Cascade Marc in San Juan Del Obispo. The afternoon is free to explore Antigua. Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own.
Day 3, Saturday, February 8: Antigua morning tour, with visits to places of interest. Breakfast included. Lunch and dinner on your own.
Day 4, Sunday, February 9: Early departure to Chichicastenango Market – Visit the market and have an early brunch at Hotel Mayan Inn. We then depart to nearby Santa Cruz del Quiche to visit artisans and then go on to Coban, Alta Verapaz. Our travel time is approximately 3-1/2 hours by luxury van. Arrive at Coban Alta Verapaz in mid-afternoon. Dinner at Restaurant Casa Acuña. Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 5, Monday, February 10: After breakfast, drive to Samac to visit famed pikbil weaver Amalia Gue who participates in the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. We will invite other nearby weaving groups of Coban to an expoventa at our hotel. Dinner at X’Kape Coban with a local food. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Day 6, Tuesday, February 11: One more day in Coban to visit other weaving groups or return to Amalia’s or visit and tour orchid farm. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Day 7, Wednesday, February 12: After Breakfast, visit Coban’s market and depart mid-morning. Travel to Panajachel, Lake Atitlan. Afternoon free to wonder around the shops on Santander Street. Breakfast included. Lunch and Dinner on your own.
Day 8, Thursday, February 13: Visit De Colores Studio in Panajachel, with an explanation of the work they do. Cross the lake on a private boat to Santiago Village and visit Cojolya Cooperative of weavers. Continue to travel by boat to San Juan La Laguna to visit artisans that practice natural dyes, with demonstrations. Return to Panajachel. Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own.
Day 9, February 14: Return to Antigua, free afternoon to visit museums and galleries. Grand finale dinner. Overnight in Antigua.
Day 10, February 15: Departure to Guatemala City airport. Please schedule flights to depart after 11 a.m. It will take 1-1/2 hours to get there, and you need to be there two hours ahead to check in to international flights.
On your own options are to arrive a day or two earlier or stay a day or two later to visit Guatemala City. The Archeological Museum there has an extensive textile collection, and next door is a vast Craft Market which has a nice selection of artisan made craft from different regions of Guatemala.
Price $4,395 shared room. $5,195 single room. Deposit to reserve $750 (non-refundable). Please complete this Registration Form and return to Norma Schafer at firstname.lastname@example.org to participate. Please read Registration Policies and Procedures. Thank you.
Space is limited to 14 travelers.
About the Tour Leaders
Olga Reiche is a Guatemala textile artisan, dye master, and social justice advocate who has worked with local artisans and indigenous groups for over 30 years to train them to use natural dyes. Her concern for environmental and artisan sustainability is a driving force in her work around Lake Atitlan and in the northern Coban region of Guatemala.
She has been an invited participant at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market for many years, teaches natural dyeing and weaving, has written numerous articles about natural dyes and sustainability, indigenous culture, and continuity.
She mentors weavers, developing new designs and products, teaching them how to manage a business, and how to competitively market products in the international arena.
Olga heads the sustainable eco-fashion brand Indigo that works with craftspeople from different regions to create clothing from recycled and reused materials. The name of her brand is inspired by the rich blue pigment which comes from the native Guatemalan indigo plant.
Olga is the lead designer and produces naturally-dyed threads that are used by a team of weavers with whom she collaborates—mostly women working out of their homes. They make pieces according to Olga’s instructions, weaving almost exclusively on backstrap looms, incorporating patterns and symbols inspired by their shared Mayan heritage. Once the pieces are fabricated, they are returned to Olga for assembly into comfortable and luxurious handmade garments that have been featured in Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue Mexico.
Eric Chavez Santiago is a fourth-generation weaver and natural dyer from Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. He is fluent in Spanish and English, and is managing partner of Oaxaca Cultural Navigator. He joined OCN in 2021. Eric was founding director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, where he organized artisan-led programs for eight years. After that, he was asked by the Alfred Harp Helu Foundation to open and direct the Oaxaca folk art gallery Andares del Arte Popular, which he did for six years. Eric is knowledgeable about all aspects of weaving and naturally dyeing, having developed over 100 different shades of cochineal before the age of 21, and is deeply embedded in the folk art and craft culture of Mexico.
Norma Schafer founded Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC in 2007, and has been offering educational programs, workshops and tours since then. She served for thirty years in university leadership roles, and has a keen personal interest in artisan economic development, all things textiles and folk art.
.Reservations and Cancellations. A $750 non-refundable deposit (first payment) is required to guarantee your place. The balance is due in two equal payments. The second payment of 50% of the balance is due on or before August 1, 2024. The third payment, 50% balance, is due on or before November 1, 2024. We accept payment using Zelle cash transfer or a credit card with Square. For a Zelle transfer, there is no service fee. We add a 3.5% service fee to use Square. We will send you a request for funds to make your reservation deposit when you tell us you are ready to register. Please tell us how your account is registered (email or phone number).
After November 1, 2024, there are no refunds. If you cancel on or before November 1, 2024, we will refund 50% of your deposit received to date (less the $750 non-refundable deposit). After that, there are no refunds UNLESS we cancel for any reason. If we cancel, you will receive a full 100% refund.
Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance: We require that you carry international accident/health insurance that includes $50,000+ of emergency medical evacuation insurance. Check out Forbes Magazine for best travel insurance options. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/travel-insurance/best-travel-insurance/
Proof of insurance must be received at least 45 days before the tour start date.
About COVID. Covid is still with us and new variants continue to arise. As of this writing (December 2023), we request proof of latest COVID-19 vaccination and all boosters to be sent to us 30 days before departure. We suggest that you test two days before traveling to the tour. Please bring Covid test kits with you in the event you feel sick during the tour. Face masks are strongly suggested for airport and air travel, van travel, densely populated market visits, and artisan visits that are held indoors. We ask this to keep all travelers safe, and to protect indigenous populations who are at higher risk.