Today, Thursday,October 29 until 5 p.m. at El Diablo y La Sandia Boca del Monte 121. This is a little street located between Tinaco y Palacios and Crespo, between Allende and Quetzalcoatl. Come up the hill from Santo Domingo to Tinaco y Palacios. Turn right. Turn left onto Boca del Monte and we are there on the right! Gorgeous dresses and blouses. Reasonable prices. $$ direct to weavers. Please spread the word.
Tag Archives: 2015
From October 27 to November 3, you want to be on the streets of Oaxaca and out in the surrounding villages to take in all that this Day of the Dead — Dia de los Muertos — celebration offers. Don’t forget to wander into patio courtyards off the four major city avenues: the Andador Alcala, Cinco de Mayo, Garcia Virgil and Reforma between Constitucion and Hidalgo (and adjoining cross streets) to get the full experience. Poke your nose into churches, too. Drink hot chocolate or mezcal.
So much to do. So little time. You must return!
Tuesday, October 27-Tuesday, November 3
- Festival Arte del Pueblo, San Martin Tilcajete
Thursday, October 29
- San Felipe Usila textile expoVENTA, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at El Diablo y La Sandia Boca del Monte
- Explore the vast Abastos Market for altar decorations, pan de muertos (Day of the Dead bread), sugar skulls and lots of marigold flowers. Leave your bling behind and keep your money close to your chest.
Friday, October 30
- San Felipe Usila textile expoVENTA, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Casa de Las Bugambilias, Free
- Tour Xaquixe Sustainable Blown Glass Studio, 10 a.m., tickets at Christian Thornton Gallery, Centro Historico
- Book Premiere Party Milpa: From Seed to Salsa, 6 p.m. at Instituto de Artes y Graficas (IAGO), bilingual, amazing story of indigenous corn in Oaxaca by Chef Susana Trilling, photographer Judith Cooper Haden, and writers Phil and Kathy Dahl-Bredine. Recipes, photos, commentary.
Saturday, October 31
- Metropolitan Opera at Teatro Macedonio Alcala, 12 p.m., Wagner’s Tannhauser (Is it a stretch to make the link to Muertos?)
- Santa Cruz Xoxocotlan Panteon (Cemetery). I always go early with a first stop to the old cemetery to catch magic hour photos before going into the bigger, crazier, newer cemetery.
- Santa Maria Atzompa Panteon (Cemetery), low-key, reflective experience
Sunday, November 1
- Panteon General, Oaxaca de Juarez, the big, city-center cemetery.
- San Agustin Etla Comparsas, parades and fantastic mirror costumes.
- San Pablo Villa de Mitla Panteon, way out at the end of the Tlacolula valley, where meaning and memory are part of the tradition and the Zapotec definition of Mitla is “place of the dead.”
Monday, November 2
- Teotitlan del Valle Panteon, starts at 6 p.m. Intimate, low-key, village experience. Why not spend the night at Casa Elena or Las Granadas?
Tuesday, November 3
- San Antonino Velasco Castillo. This village in the Ocotlan valley, most famous for its embroidered wedding dresses, is the premier flower-growing center of the region. They supply most of the marigolds for altars throughout Oaxaca. Muertos is celebrated here as the grand finale to the week of remembrance.
Day of the Dead Resources and Tours
- How to Build a Day of the Dead Altar
- Day of the Dead: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca
- Oaxaca Lending Library Day of the Dead Tours
- Las Bugambilias Day of the Dead Tours
- Mexico Retold Day of the Dead Guide
Traffic Alert: The Mercado 20 de Noviembre is under construction with many stalls displaced to surrounding streets, clogging the major arteries and making it difficult to gather altar necessities near the zocalo for Muertos, like bread, fruit, candles, sugar skulls and flowers. FYI. Best bet? Head to Abastos.
Photography in village cemeteries — a word of caution and advice: Oaxacaqueños love tourists. We are their lifeline to economic well-being. And, it is really disconcerting and disrespectful to point a camera lens in someone’s face who is sitting vigil by a gravesite without asking permission to take a photo. It’s a simple question: Podria tomarle su foto? or Puedo a tomar su foto? This simple question will take you far and usually get a nod of consent.
Any events or activities to add? Please post them in comments! Mil gracias.
Norma Schafer writes and photographs from Oaxaca, Mexico. Her work has been featured in the New York Times 36-Hours in Oaxaca, included in the Levine Museum of the New South exhibition NUEVOlution! Latinos and the New South, and published in Minerva Rising Women’s Literary Magazine.
Is Mexico safe? I just got back to Oaxaca after traveling for three weeks in Mexico City, Estado de Mexico and Michoacan. In Michoacan there is a U.S. State Department Travel Advisory, (I include this link to safety vs. sensationalism.)
I went to Morelia, Patzcuaro and rural villages. I traveled far out into the countryside in a car with two other women and walked gorgeous colonial towns. How safe was it? Was I scared?
The day I returned, a must read tongue-in-cheek post came in about safety in the Distrito Federal (D.F.), the nation’s capitol, from Jim Johnston who writes Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide for the Curious Traveler. It triggered my wanting to tell you about my journey. Is Mexico safe?
Me and Mary Anne (from the San Francisco Bay Area) teamed up to take this trip together. Yes, two women of some maturity and a modicum of wisdom traveling independently via bus, taxi, collectivo and sometimes, on foot!
We met up in Mexico City where we walked from our hotel to historic center destinations, often at night. Yes, it was dark. Did I feel threatened or at risk? No. I stayed on well-lit streets with good sidewalks and lots of pedestrians. Mexicans love to meander with their families at night, eating an ice cream cone or nibbling on a torta, pushing a stroller or walking arm-in-arm.
We took a taxi, arranged by our hotel, to the regional bus station at Observatorio, and bought same day tickets on the Caminante bus line to Toluca. We were the only gringas on the bus. At the Toluca bus station, MA watched the bags and I bought a Taxi Seguro (secure taxi) ticket from the clearly marked stand inside the terminal to Tenancingo de Degollado. The worry was how we were going to get our five suitcases (three of them huge) into a small taxi rather than any safety issues.
Most of our trips in Tenancingo were via group van. But, when we/I (either together or separately) wanted to go to town, we went out to the front of our hotel and hailed a private taxi or jumped into a collectivo, sharing a ride with strangers.
When we left Tenancingo, our next destination was Morelia, capital of Michoacan. So, we returned to the Toluca bus station and bought tickets on another bus line — Autovias — that serves that part of Mexico. Again, we were the only gringas on the bus (of either gender). It’s almost a four-hour bus ride to Morelia, whose tarnished reputation for being a drug cartel area has had a negative impact on tourism, even though it is safe by strict U.S. State Department standards.
I don’t know if this is true or not. It didn’t seem like it. I did ask MA, when we were planning this trip, is it safe? Just once. She researched it and reported that the only possible dangerous areas were rural far from where we would be.
I’ve never been to a cleaner, more pristine city than Morelia. It has an incredible Zocalo, classical music, great restaurants, 16th century colonial architecture, outstanding gardens, churches, universities, libraries, a comprehensive Casa de las Artesanias folk art gallery and is gateway to some of Mexico’s most amazing folk art. No one hassled us. In fact, everyone was warm and welcoming. Did I feel unsafe or threatened? Not for a minute. Neither does Guns N’ Roses!
Nacho (Ignacio), our pre-arranged taxi driver, picked us up in Morelia and drove us to Patzcuaro, with a stop along the way to Capula, one of the craft villages. I have friends from the USA who now live full-time in Patzcuaro. We hung out together during the time we weren’t going out to explore the Purepecha villages around the lake, and met the small, but mighty Patzcuaro ex-pat community, including photographer Flo Leyret (link to her photos below).
We spent the day poking around Santa Clara del Cobre — the copper mining village about thirty minutes beyond Patzcuaro where Purepecha people have been working the material with hand-forging and hammering since the 13th century.
Then, I got invited to go along to a concurso (juried folk art competition) in the village of Ahuiran, an hour-and-a-half north of Patzcuaro, where talented women weave rebozos on back-strap looms. Six of us, all women, drove in two cars over Michoacan countryside, through small villages, across rich farmland planted with corn and potatoes. At the entrance and exit to some villages there were guard posts and community-designated sentries asking us where we were going. It seems the villagers are protecting their territory and this is typical for rural Mexico where there can be land disputes or disagreements. Nothing to be afraid of.
[Above left is Purepecha ceramic artist Nicolas Fabian Fermin, from Santa Fe de Laguna, who I met this summer at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, with his wife. Above right is Teofila Servin Barriga, another award-winning Purepecha artist whose embroidery has won many international awards. She will be at Lake Chapala, Guadalajara, for the annual folk art market. This rebozo she is wearing will sell for 15,000 pesos.]
In Ahuiran, we were the only visitors and the best potential customers for these stunning hand-made shawls that started at 2,000 pesos. The elaborate feather fringed rebozos (photos are still in my camera) were commanding a 5,000 pesos price tag, more than most of the local women could afford. But, then, they could weave their own or buy from a relative!
Why go to Michoacan? For the folk art, of course, and then, there’s the landscape, and the people, the history ….
On my return to Oaxaca, I took a taxi from Morelia center to the regional bus terminal and bought my ticket the same day. It was a five-hour bus ride to Mexico City Norte terminal. I was the only foreigner on the bus. MA flew direct from Morelia to Oakland, CA on a non-stop Volaris flight. Lucky her. I, on the other hand, got into a secure taxi for the 30-minute ride to the airport to board the Interjet flight to Oaxaca ($116 USD round-trip).
Okay, so that’s the story. Or at least skimming it. Mexico is a treasure trove of history, archeology, folk art, contemporary art, intellectual discourse and culture. Her cities are beautiful. Yes, some parts are not safe. Most parts are. Some have reputations for being unsafe that have never been true and/or might have been true two or three or four years ago, like Morelia. Morelia is safe now. It is gorgeous. I’d go back in a heartbeat.
Oaxaca has always been safe.
Join us February 3-11, 2016 for Mexico Textiles and Folk Art Study Tour: Tenancingo Rebozos and More. 4 Spaces Left!
Here is the schedule.
- Monday, July 6, about 4 p.m., Parade of the Canastas, Church Courtyard. The procession of young women in traditional Zapotec dress and carrying heavy baskets on their heads winds through the cobbled village streets. In front of them is the band and coming up from behind are the Dancers in full regalia. There is no dancing today.
- Tuesday, July 7, about 4 p.m., Dance of the Feathers in the church courtyard, continuing until dark, then fireworks display.
- Wednesday, July 8, 12:00 noon until about 8 p.m., Dance of the Feathers. This is the big dancing day when those who volunteer for this ritual and tradition continue almost non-stop all afternoon into the evening. Basketball tourney next to market.
- Saturday, July 11, 12:00 non until about 8 p.m., Dance of the Feathers, in the church courtyard, followed by grand finale fireworks, and a public dance complete with band in the municipal building courtyard.
There will be carnival rides, a street fair and lots of food vendors. The almost completed new basketball court next to the village market will hold a tournament there on Wednesday, too. Ojala!
Sleep over, if you like. There are good local accommodations at Las Granadas B&B and Casa Elena B&B. You can find them on the internet. I hear some people in the village are renting rooms on Airbnb, too.
Enjoy yourself. Take lots of photographs and post them on our new Facebook page Mexico Travel Photography.
I’m off to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market for a textile extravaganza on Monday, July 6, so I’ll miss my village’s festivities this year. Send me photos, if you like, to post about what you see and do!
Oaxaca, Mexico, is the place to be for Day of the Dead and you will capture it with your camera: parades, cemeteries, family traditions, special food and decor, markets, fiestas and faces. Follow the copal incense and marigold trail. Starts Sunday morning, October 30 and ends Thursday night, November 3.
Cost: $995 per person. Price includes all instruction, feedback sessions, personal coaching and transportation to and from Xoxocotlan and Teotitlan del Valle cemeteries. Does not include food or lodging. We will provide you with a list of hotels and B&B’s to choose the level of accommodation you prefer after you register. Then, make your own reservations directly. Come early or stay later, too. We will recommend sightseeing and other activities!
- Limited to 10 participants. Small Group. Personal Attention.
- Beginners and more experienced photographers welcome.
- Bring any camera: DSLR, iPhone or Point and Shoot!
- Registration is now open!
This is a hands-on photography workshop for learning and improving technique while you experience Oaxaca’s famed Day of the Dead rituals. By the end of the week, you will better use your camera for visual storytelling, photojournalism, portraiture and cultural discovery.
Your Workshop Leader is Matt Nager
Matt Nager is a Denver, Colorado, based portrait and editorial photographer. We invited him back to teach this workshop after rave reviews for teaching the People of Oaxaca Portrait Photography Workshop.
His clients include: DISCOVER Magazine, Fast Company Magazine, Mother Jones Magazine, The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. Matt speaks English and Spanish. His work is at: www.mattnager.com
His love for nature and the outdoors, as well as his interest in people and culture, is central to his photography. Before starting his own photography business, Matt worked with the Dallas Morning News and the Rocky Mountain News.
In addition to photography, Matt also regularly shoots video and recently completed his first documentary titled: Campania In-Felix (Unhappy Country) which looks into the rise of health issues in Southern Italy as a result of illegal waste disposal.
This cultural immersion workshop tour offers you a deeper appreciation for the food, religious symbols, rituals and family celebrations both in Oaxaca city and in the rural Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle.
You will learn to:
- Use natural light and respond to different lighting situations
- Include portraits in your travel photography
- Direct your subject through varying body positions
- Identify your own photographic style
- Find and execute portraits “on the fly”
- Practice street photography
- Use skills you learn through daily assignments
- Learn more with one-on-one coaching sessions with Matt
- Contribute to a gift for subject families — included in your workshop fee
During our week together, we will review each other’s work, give feedback, and offer supportive critiques. The workshop includes a mix of class instruction and being out on the streets to capture the action.
Preliminary Itinerary (subject to change)
Day of the Dead Workshop Expedition 2015
Day 1, Saturday, October 30: Meet after breakfast at a central location in Oaxaca City where we will have a welcome and learning session, with a review of camera settings, exposure and using natural light. Then, we’ll hit the streets and local markets! Option is to meet up for a group dinner at your own expense.
Day 2, Sunday, October 31: We meet after breakfast. After showing your best work of Day 1, with review and feedback, we will have a learning session on night photography. At 3:30 p.m. we depart for the famed Xoxocotlan cemetery for an extraordinary Day of the Dead extravaganza. Matt is with us every step of the way for coaching and technical support. This could be a late night, so be prepared! We will stay until at least 10 p.m., maybe later! Includes transportation to/from Xoxocotlan.
Day 3, Monday, November 1: You will have the morning on your own to prepare your best of the Xoxocotlan cemetery. We will meet midday to share our work with a feedback and learning session, then get back on the streets to catch the calendas and other processions. Some may want to share an optional taxi to San Pablo Villa de Mitla for their Day of the Dead festivities that start mid-afternoon
Day 4, Tuesday, November 2: We leave for an afternoon and evening in Teotitlan del Valle after our morning learning and photo feedback session. You are paired with another workshop participant to share a traditional meal with a local host family and go with them to the village cemetery. To be embedded with a local family is an amazing cultural immersion experience to learn more about indigenous customs and traditions. We return to Oaxaca city mid-evening. Includes transportation and lunch.
Day 5, Wednesday, November 3: We meet after breakfast to share experiences and photos of the day. You’ll have the rest of the day on your own to meander and prepare your Best of Week photo presentation. We get together in early evening for a Best of Week photo presentation followed by goodbyes. Please feel free to invite guests! Then, we’ll meet for an optional group supper (expense on your own).
What You Should Bring
- Camera, either Digital SLR camera with lens(es) — wide angle, zoom, and/or fixed focal point 50mm, or iPhone or Point and Shoot
- Optional tripod for night photography
- Laptop computer for photo editing
- External hard drive
- External card reader
- Extra batteries (2) and battery charger
- Memory cards (at least 2) and jump drive
- Pen and notepad
- Sturdy, comfortable walking shoes, sun protection, sun hat
(Before the workshop starts, we will send you a complete packet and information guide with suggested packing list, and other useful information.)
Cost: $995 USD. Deposit to reserve your space is $500. Workshop includes:
- All instruction and coaching
- 1 lunch as specified in the itinerary
- Transportation to villages included in the itinerary
- Gift to local Teotitlan del Valle host family
- Comprehensive pre-trip planning packet (via email)
Not Included: The expedition does NOT include lodging, meals that are not specified in the itinerary, airfare, taxes, tips/gratuities, travel insurance, liquor/alcoholic beverages and optional transportation.
About Recommended Accommodations: We will be based in Oaxaca city for this workshop. We will recommend several outstanding hotels and B&B’s where you may choose to stay, complete with contact information and estimated pricing. You can also check TripAdvisor and BookingDotCom. All reservations for lodging will be made and paid for by you directly with the hotel. You are free to choose any accommodation you prefer, from luxury to basic hostel. We will send you a list of recommended hotels after you register and make your deposit.
Reservations and Cancellations
A 50% deposit will reserve your space. The final payment for the balance due shall be made on or before August 1, 2014. We accept PayPal for payment only. We will send you an invoice for your deposit to reserve when you tell us you are ready to register.
If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email. After August 1, no refunds are possible; however, we will make every effort to fill your reserved space or you may send a substitute. If you cancel on or before August 1, we will refund 50% of your deposit.
We require that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, and at least $50,000 USD of emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip. We know unforeseen circumstances are possible.
To register, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org We accept payment with PayPal only. Thank you.
This workshop is produced by Norma H-Shafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary and substitute instructors without notice.
Don’t let this workshop pass you by!