Monday to Sunday, July 25 – 31, 2022 – 7 days and 6 nights
We want to fill this tour, so are offering you a 10% discount to register. There are FOUR spaces open! Regular price is $2,895 for a shared room and $3,495 for a single room. Take off $290 on the shared room price and $350 for the single room price. We rarely do this; we hope you take advantage of this opportunity to participate. Bonus: We set this tour to be held between the two Guelaguetza Mondays. So, come to Oaxaca before or after to enjoy this spectacular folkloric dance extravaganza, too.
The remote mountains of the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca are home to some of the finest backstrap loom weaving villages in the state. Here, ancient weaving traditions are practiced just as they were centuries ago before the Spanish conquest. Moreover, the weavings tell stories of indigenous beliefs that include images in the textiles of local flora, fauna, celebrations, and daily life. This is a textile adventure tour because these villages are not easy to get to, requiring day trips of several hours back and forth from Teotitlan del Valle by van. We think the journey is worth the travel if you want to explore a part of Oaxaca that is definitely “off-the-beaten-path.” This tour is limited to 10 participants. We will have 6 single rooms and 4 shared rooms available. First come, first served for room selection.
What and Where is the Sierra Norte? Click Here.
We are based in the weaver’s village of Teotitlan Del Valle. This will put us a bit closer to our destinations. Each day we will take a van trip to meet textile artisans that specialize in wool, silk, cotton, and natural dyes woven both on back strap and pedal floor looms. The visits will be to family studios or a weaver’s cooperative to learn about their processes and discuss quality and weaving techniques.
This seven-day and six-night textile adventure tour includes visits to the two remote mountain villages of San Pedro Cajonos and San Pedro Tlahuitoltepec. In addition, we will visit specialized weavers in the Tlacolula valley, a doll maker, a pottery village, and enjoy a mezcal tasting. We will host an expoventa on our final morning, inviting weavers representing other remote textile villages in the state, including Triqui, San Pedro Amuzgo, San Mateo del Mar, and San Felipe Usila.
We have scheduled this tour to be held during the week between the two Guelaguetza performances at the Cerro del Fortin in Oaxaca City. They are held on Monday, July 25 and Monday, August 1, 2022. Perhaps you want to bundle this spectacular folkloric dance extravaganza into your travel plans!
July 25, Monday, Day 1. Arrive in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, by evening and check-in to our comfortable and upscale Bed and Breakfast Inn. Snack box provided for late arrivals.
July 26, Tuesday, Day 2. We spend this first day visiting four weaving studios in Teotitlan del Valle to orient you to weaving and natural dyeing. You will see demonstrations of pedal loom weaving and dyeing techniques with indigo, cochineal and wild marigold. Here, we will visit a weaver who cultivates silkworms, dyes them with natural plants and insects, another weaver who makes leather and woven wool handbags and totes, a beeswax candle maker who provides the traditional ritual velas for community celebrations. Includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Overnight in Teotitlan.
July 27, Wednesday, Day 3. We rise early to travel two-and-a-half hours to San Pedro Cajonos after breakfast. There, we visit with one of the finest, most distinguished silk weaving cooperatives in Mexico. They created a sanctuary to cultivate and preserve silkworm production, with hand-spinning, natural dyeing and weaving. You will see the entire process and meet these talented people. They will prepare a homemade lunch for us and show us their silk textiles and accessories that are for sale. We return to Teotitlan del Valle in time for dinner. Breakfast, lunch, dinner included.
July 28, Thursday, Day 4. Today we stay local and take a rest from the road. After breakfast, we venture out to San Marcos Tlapazola to visit a renown red-clay pottery cooperative, then we travel a short distance up the road to San Pablo Villa de Mitla to visit a weaver who specializes in home goods and clothing dyed with natural plants. We stop to see the work of a sewist-embroiderer who makes dolls. We wrap up our day with an artisanal mezcal tasting in Santiago Matatlan before returning to Teotitlan del Valle. Includes breakfast, lunch, mezcal tasting and dinner.
July 29, Friday, Day 5. Back on the road after breakfast, we travel about two-hours to the mountain village of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec to meet weavers and embroiderers who work in cotton and wool. You will learn about the production of wool ponchos, cotton shawls woven on the backstrap and pedal looms that are locally dyed with Palo de Aguila (alderwood). Here they create distinctive embroidered dresses, shirts and blouses, designs that have been illegally appropriated by international brands. We will discuss the issue of cultural appropriation with the family. After lunch, we will visit a large format potter, famous for his amazing pieces featured In museums and collections around the world. We return to Teotitlan del Valle in time for dinner. Includes breakfast, lunch, dinner.
July 30, Saturday, Day 6. GRAND FINALE Dinner and Expoventa.
After breakfast we will arrange for a local laboratory to come to give you a Covid test (if still required for re-entry and at your own expense) 24-hours in advance of your departure to return to the USA or Canada. Then, we take you to the workshop studio of Taller Tenido a Mano for a private expoventa featuring outstanding weavers from San Mateo del Mar, San Pedro Amuzgo, San Felipe Usila and Triqui. You get first pick. We will then open up the expoventa to the public. You have the rest of the day free to explore the village or arrange a taxi to visit some of the local archeological sites. We wrap up our time together with a Grand Finale Gala Dinner. Breakfast and dinner included.
July 31, Sunday, Day 7. Departure.
We will arrange taxi service (at your own expense) to take you to the city to extend your stay, or to take you to the airport for your return home. Breakfast included.
About your Oaxaca Cultural Navigator Eric Chavez Santiago
Eric Chavez Santiago is an expert in Oaxaca and Mexican textiles and folk art with a special interest in artisan development and promotion. He is a weaver and natural dyer by training and a fourth generation member of the Fe y Lola textile group. He and his wife Elsa are founders of Taller Teñido a Mano dye studio where they produce naturally dyed yarn skeins and textiles for worldwide distribution. Eric is a business partner with Oaxaca Cultural Navigator, too. He is trilingual, speaking Zapotec, Spanish and English and is a native of Teotitlan del Valle. He is a graduate of Anahuac University, founder of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca education department, and former managing director of folk art gallery Andares del Arte Popular. He has intimate knowledge of local traditions, culture and community.
What is Included:
- 6 nights lodging
- 6 breakfasts
- 4 lunches
- 4 dinners
- Expert bilingual guide services
- Luxury van transportation
- Mezcal tasting
- An educational experience of a lifetime
What is NOT Included:
- Airplane tickets
- Required international travel insurance
- In-country COVID test
- Required vaccines, PPE and hand-sanitizer
- Any meals, snacks and taxis not specified in the itinerary
- All alcoholic beverages, tips and personal purchases
Price for a shared room is $2,895
Price for a single room is $3,495
We have 6 single rooms and 4 shared rooms available to reserve on a first-come, first-served basis.
Reservations and Cancellations. A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to guarantee your spot. The balance is due in two equal payments. The second payment of 50% of the balance is due on or before March 15, 2022. The third payment is due on or before May 15, 2022. We accept payment using online e-commerce only. We will send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. After May 15, 2022, there are no refunds. If you cancel on or before May 15, 2022, we will refund 50% of your deposit received to date less the $500 non-refundable deposit. After that, there are no refunds. If we cancel for whatever reason, you will receive a full refund.
The tour and COVID-19: You are required to be FULLY VACCINATED to participate. Fully vaccinated is defined as all vaccinations required by the CDC including boosters. You must send Proof of Vaccination (this includes all boosters) by email on or before May 15, 2022. You can take a photo of the documentation and email it to us. All participants are required to wear N95 OR KN95 face masks, use hand-sanitizer and practice social distancing while together. We will sanitize vans and keep the windows open when traveling together. Please note: You MUST also provide proof of international travel insurance including $50,000 of emergency medical evacuation coverage.
Complete the form and Send an email to Norma Schafer.
Tell us if you want a shared/double room or a private/single room. We will send you an e-commerce invoice by email that is due on receipt.
Who Should Attend • Anyone interested in indigenous culture and creativity, who wants a deep immersion experience into textile practices and traditions, and who appreciates artisan craft — weaving, embroidery, pottery. If you are a collector, come with us to go deep and find the best artisans. If you are a photographer or artist, come with us for inspiration. If you are an online retailer, come with us to buy and find the stories to market what you sell.
To Register, Policies, Procedures & Cancellations–Please Read
All documentation for plane reservations, required travel insurance, and personal health issues must be received by May 15, 2022 or we reserve the right to cancel your registration without reimbursement.
Terrain, Walking and Group Courtesy: Oaxaca and surrounding villages are colonial and pre-Hispanic. The altitude can be 7,000 feet or higher in the mountain villages. Many streets and sidewalks are cobblestones, narrow and uneven. We will do a lot of walking. We recommend you bring a walking stick and wear study shoes.
If you have mobility issues or health/breathing impediments or you are immunocompromised, please consider that this may not be the 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 free time to go off on your own if you wish.
A Day in Xochistlan de Vicente Suarez, Puebla with Merry Foss and Friends
Xochitl is the Nahuatl word for flower and Tlan de Totonaco is the literal meaning for beautiful place. Xochistlan is the beautiful place between the flowers. (You can tell if a word has a Nahuatl origin if it ends in tl.)
Ducks parade across the embroidered bodice of this blouse made by Radegundis
Here in the Sierra Norte of Puebla state, a lush landscape of rugged mountains, tall grasses, bamboo, canna lilies, orchids, bromeliad varieties, fruit trees and daisies cling to stony hillsides. Waterfalls flow like abundant rivers. The region is a puzzle of caves. Humidity seeps into everything.
Xochistlan is nestled at the base of a steep valley in the Sierra Norte, Puebla State
We spent the day with Merry Elizabeth Foss who took us to Xochistlan, the village she stumbled upon seven years ago in search of artisan women who work in fine beading.
The corn crib. The chicken got away before the shot.
When she met the women of Xochistlan, she knew this was the place for her. She started a cooperative, created patterns to fit American women (yes, we are mostly taller and broader), and invested in relationships that have provided friendship and mutual support.
Radegundis with me and Merry. Yes, I bought this blouse!
It’s not surprising that the embroidered and beaded images here mimic the landscape, filled with birds, barnyard animals, flowers of every variety, trailing vines, in subdued and rainbow colors.
Bedroom and sewing room combo. Nothing more needed!
Xochistlan is not easy to get to. It’s about an hour outside of Cuetzalan del Progreso, Puebla. First you take the winding mountain road along the spine, looking down and beyond at villages tucked into the valleys below.
A 30 year old blouse with exquisite embroidery, still fine after all these years.
Then, you divert and start descending on a road that was likely once a switch back donkey trail. You have to know where you are going! Turn right, continue straight, now turn left, straight again, Merry instructs the taxi driver.
Ducks, chickens and cat wander underfoot, peck at the corncrib.
We pull into the driveway of a humble home, filled with family, love, joy and beautiful beaded blouses. Radegundis Casilda Teresa greets us with a huge smile, warm hugs and invitation to come in for atole enriched with Mexican chocolate and milk.
Making it last! Sipping atole with a spoon.
She runs out with a bag of whole kernels, telling us to take a seat, she’s going to the molina (mill) to grind the corn.
Hot, delicious atole with chocolate, a favorite drink, made in clay over a wood fire.
We meet her husband and grandchildren, sit down by the cooking fire to sip the delicious hot drink, sing and play games, watch the ducks and chickens peck at dried corn.
Playing a singing game with the grandchildren!
After lunch at Comedor Betty where we had perhaps the best chicken mole in the state of Puebla (Betty won a prize last year), we stopped to visit Martha and her family.
Sewing the beaded panels to the blouse fabric.
They sew the beaded panels to the cotton cloth that makes up the entire blouse. Martha, her husband and daughter are master tailors who are very particular about their finish work.
Martha shows us a fine finished blouse, ready for the expoventa the next day.
Merry also helped the cooperative open a retail shop to sell beads and fabric to other artisans in the village, and created a plan to help market the blouses in the USA. Merry honors and recognizes the work of each woman by asking her to embroider her name on the inside of each blouse. Personalized. Meaningful.
Poster in Doña Betty’s comedor recognizing her cooking talents.
Merry wholesales these finely beaded blouses, known as the China Poblana style, to upscale shops in the United States whose customers appreciate fine Mexican textiles.
Barbara and Rade with finely embroidered V-neck blouse.
Radegundis and Merry Foss, dear friends.
The Altar Room. Most rural homes in Mexico have one.
I’ve discovered that sometimes the most wonderful experiences are those when you can meet talented people where they live and work. In Mexico, there is extraordinary talent hidden in often isolated, rural villages.
La Abuela Radegundis. Grandmother love.
One has to be willing to be open, explore and appreciate people for who they are, what they do, and how they live. I’m grateful to Merry for introducing us to her friends and for helping bring their talent to the world.
Brightly colored beaded bodice in Radegundis’ sewing room.
The tradition of beadwork came to Mexico from Europe with the Spanish conquest. Most were trade beads from Venice and Africa, used for ballast on the Spanish galleons that landed in the port of Veracruz. The beads were traded for food and raw materials. Women learned to embellish their garments and the these fantastic blouses were born!
A bodice strip of black and white daisies before the dressmaking begins.
Posted in Clothing Design, Cultural Commentary, Textiles, Tapestries & Weaving, Travel & Tourism, Workshops and Retreats
Tagged artisans, beadwork, blouse, China Poblana, clothing, design, Embroidery, folk art, Merry Elizabeth Foss, Mexico, photography, Puebla, Sierra Norte, textiles