This journey begins in Veracruz, where in addition to visiting the vibrant Port of Veracruz, we’ll explore the ancient sites of Cempoala, Quiahuetzlan and the extraordinary Museum of Anthropology in Xalapa, to learn about the ancient Olmec culture. This trip continues into lesser visited regions Veracurz and Oaxaca known as the Papaloapan Basin. Then we will enter La Chinantla, a cultural / natural region located between Veracruz and Oaxaca; between the Gulf of Mexico and the Sierra Juarez mountains. We enter a tropical rain forest, where the landscape varies between lush and tropical (think mangoes and pineapples) to higher elevations where coffee grows and deciduous forests begin. The ethnographic landscape of this region is comprised of Chinantec and Mazatec communities, that we’ll visit. Valle Nacional, San Lucas Ojitlan and San Felipe Usila, are some of them. Their textile traditions are among the richest in Mexico, combining unique iconography in woven and embroidered cloth to make huipiles. This trip also goes to the fascinating region of Tehuacan, Puebla where we’ll meet with the Nahua community of San Gabriel Chilac and the Mixtec palm weavers and the famed potters of Los Reyes Metzontla!
Pre Day: Feb. 8 Arrive: Welcome Event, Weaving Demo and Music! (Reception)
To welcome the group, we have arranged a welcome fiesta poolside at our hotel. We’ll gather to meet and greet, enjoy a tropical drink, listen to the famed harp music of Veracruz and a big treat will be to meet and honor some very special artisans from a Nahua region in the south of Veracruz, Cosoleacaque.
Day One: Feb. 9, Breakfast and “lechero”, Fuerte Ulloa, City Tour, State Craft Store, Mercado Hidalgo, Dinner on the Beach in Boca del Rio. (D)
We’ll explore the Puerto de Veracruz to learn more about the Atlantic trade route, which included slaves from Africa, an important part of Mexico’s history that is often overlooked. We’ll visit the Mercado Hidalgo where our favorite guayabera merchant will be waiting for us! PS: For those of you have been there before, Julia will remember your size and the exact guayabera you purchased on your last visit. We’ll explore other highlights of Veracruz, including the State Craft Store, before heading to Boca del Rio to enjoy a dinner by the sea.
Day Two: Feb., 10 Cempoala, Quiahuetzlan, Xalapa, Veracruz
Today is dedicated to learning about the ancient past of Veracruz. We’ll learn about the Olmec, Totonac and other civilizations that were present in this region before the arrival of Cortez. We’ll see the Bay where Cortez’s ships first anchored off the Coast of Mexico. As no trip to this region would be complete without visiting the Museo de Antropologia in Xalapa, we will travel here to see this remarkable Museum, study its architecture, museography, and of course the Olmec! We’ll return to Veracruz for an evening at leisure.
Day Three: Feb, 11 Transfer to Tuxtepec, stopping in Tlacotalpan, Fashion Show in Tuxtepec! Overnight Tuxtepec (L, D)
Today we begin our journey towards Tuxtepec, but not before a special visit in our favorite town on the shores of the Papaloapan River, Tlacotalpan. Here, we’ll walk the town made famous by Agustin Lara and home to some of the best “jaraneros” of Veracruz. We’ll meet a wonderful children’s music and dance troupe, to learn of the history and cultural significance of the “fandango”. Get your dancing shoes on! Arriving in Tuxtepec, we’ll settle into our hotel to prepare for another extravaganza: a fashion show of the dress from the region, including Chinantec and Mazatec dress from communities such as: Valle Nacional, San Lucas Ojitlan, San Felipe Usila, Jalapa de Diaz, Huatla de Jimenez, San Pedro Ixcatlan. Hopefully you’ve kept your dance shoes on, as we’ll learn some steps from the famed “Baile Flor de Pina” dance, made famous at the Guelaguetza Festival.
Day Four: Feb. 12, Rancho Grande, Valle Nacional, Overnight Tuxtepec (B, L)
Today, a treat is in store, as we plan to spend our day in the extraordinary Chinantec community of Rancho Grande. Here, we’ll meet with community members and weavers. We’ll learn about their initiatives to revive the ancient brocade technique, only two elderly members of the community know how to do. Now, others have learned and teachers are teaching others (2 more generations have been learning). We’ll meet with the cooperative to ask them about the revival work they have done, and learn from them, as a case study of revival and preservation of ancient techniques and designs. We’ll go on a brief foraging hike to see the wild and cultivated plants the community harvests for food. We’ll enjoy a grand feast together with them!
Day Five: Feb. 13, Ojitlan, Soyaltepec, Overnight Tuxtepec (B, L)
Today we’ll visit the Chinantec community of San Lucas Ojitlan, and will be met by community members and artisans. We’ll learn about their daily wear, media gala and gala huipiles that are hand woven on a backstrap loom, and embroidered with the iconography of the region, to include: Quetzalcoatl, double headed eagle, peacocks, humming birds. Leaving Ojitlan, we’ll visit with a Mazatec community, on the shores of the Miguel Aleman dam. While the dam is beautiful (today looks like a lake) we’ll also learn about the hidden story behind most dams: destruction of natural and cultural landscapes. The community we’ll meet with is San Miguel Soyaltepec, and today the only way to arrive is by boat. The artisans will meet us on the shores of the dam, in the community of San Pedro Ixcatlan. We’ll enjoy an expo-venta of their gorgeous embroidered huipiles, laden with birds and flowers. We’ll also enjoy a lunch of mojarra, farm raised on the presa, in a sustainable manner.
Day Six: Feb. 14, San Felipe Usila, Overnight Tuxtepec (B, L)
Today we enter an “other worldly” natural and cultural environment by visiting San Felipe Usila, a Chinantec community. We’ll enjoy a special adventure by traveling there by boat on the Cerro de Oro dam, followed by entering the Usila River. We’ll be met by community members and first enjoy a home visit and home cooked meal of “Amarillo” the special mole from this region. We’ll meet with the artisans for an expo-venta and demo of their highly skilled brocade weaving technique. We’ll end our visit experiencing the singular soup called, “caldo de piedra”. Stones aren’t eaten but they are used to cook the soup! Returning to Tuxtepec, our evening is at leisure.
Day Seven: Feb. 15, Tuxtepec to Orizaba, Overnight Orizaba (B)
Before we leave, we’ll have one last “expo-venta” from some of the top textile collectors of the region. Sometimes they rotate their pieces and are willing to part with a few. Then, we say goodbye to the region, as we make our way to Orizaba, Veracruz, a town in the shadows of the largest volcano in Mexico: Orizaba. Arriving, we are at leisure to enjoy this charming town, perhaps step into the Museo del Estado, art museum to see regional art.
Day Eight: Feb. 16, Orizaba to Tehuacan, Visit Los Reyes Metzontla and Botanical Garden in the Tehuacan Bio Reserve (B, L)
We make our way over the mountain pass, to enter the Valley of Tehuacan, a valley where some of the earliest domesticated corn was found, and home to the Nahua people. We’ll go straight to our destination, in the heart of the Tehuacan Bio Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, both for its natural and cultural uniqueness. We begin with a visit in Los Reyes Metzontla, a Nahua community that makes pottery in the same way they did over 3,000 years ago. Their burnishing technique make this pottery among the most beautiful in Mexico. We’ll enjoy a visit and lunch in the Tehuacan Bio Reserve. Return to hotel for leisure time.
Day Nine: Feb. 17, San Gabriel Chilac, Museo de Agua, Palm weavers, brief city tour (B, L)
Today we visit a special Nahua community in the Tehuacan Valley, San Gabriel Chilac. We’ll learn of their ancient customs and rituals in dance, ceremony and dress. Their blusa is considered the “china poblana” blouse! We’ll also enjoy a cleansing ceremony with fragrant herbs, before we enjoy a visit and meal at the Museo del Agua, a living museum dedicated to reviving ancient water conservation practices and to reviving ancient and nutrient rich amaranth. In fact, our meal will be based on dishes using amaranth! We’ll also learn to make amaranth “alegrias”, we can enjoy as we return to our hotel in Tehuacan.
Day Ten: Feb. 18 Transfer to Oaxaca, Free Day, Farewell Dinner (B, D)
Today we say goodbye to our adventure, but still get to enjoy some gorgeous cactus landscape scenery as we make our way to Oaxaca City. Arriving, your afternoon is free, before we meet for a special farewell dinner, to recap our trip experiences, share our favorite textiles and enjoy being with our new and old “Amigos”.
Day Eleven: Feb. 19, Extension Option: Centro de Arte Zapoteco Bii Dauu (L)
Today we will offer an extension to spend ½ day with our friends in Teotitlan del Valle, Centro de Arte Textil Zapoteco Bii Dauu. Here, we’ll learn of their work with color trends and contemporary use of ancient processes and techniques. We’ll enjoy the best quesadillas you’ve ever had…oh and some mezcal too!
Welcome to San Felipe Usila
la casa del pueblo
4 pineapple for 25 pesos
By the river
The river is waiting
Choosing the rocks
preparing the fire
rocks on fire
preparing the ingredients
preparing the dish
the fire is over
choosing the rocks
putting the hot rock
canoe passing by
taking coffee’s pulp off
drying the grains
coffee is ready