Ancestors Journey:
Arts, Food and Ritual in Oaxaca’s Days of the Dead







Our job is to open doors and create connections. This deep immersion Day of the Dead trip is one-of-a-kind because we partner with Zapotec weaver, Porfirio Gutierrez and family , and take you inside the makings and goings on of this celebration in the village of Teotitlan del Valle.

Porfirio opens the doors of his house and this fascinating, traditional community to a small group of you this October. The celebrations around the Days of the Dead in Oaxaca are about family, community, memory, life, death, food and beauty.

Thousands of visitors are drawn to Oaxaca to view this special festival. But to live it up close, from shopping in the market for supplies, preparing the food, creating an altar and being immersed in the goings on of a traditional village is an experience available to few from the outside. Join Porfirio and his family in Teotitlan for this special experience.


Porfirio’s family has been weavers and dyers for generations. His ancestors were born in Teotitlan, his ancestors rest here. “In our beliefs,” says Porfirio, “every year they come back to visit during Days of the Dead and we celebrate that moment with them and with those around us.”

Not only will we immerse ourselves in the festival preparations as making tortillas, prepare cacao seeds for chocolate, roast peppers, eat mole, wrap tamales, take offerings to village altars and of course spend time in cemeteries. We’ll also visit artisans. We’ll focus on those who produce some of the key items used this time of year, from handmade bees wax candles, to clay pottery and distilled mezcal. And of we’ll learn about wool, natural dyeing and weaving. I’ll share the work of my family and other weavers whose work I respect. And there will be more, from a visit to a fine lace worker, flying shuttle loom artisans, traditional-contemporary clay sculpture work, home cooked food, a thriving artisans collective, Zapotec ruins, the old city of Oaxaca, the village of Mitla.

These will be tremendously enriching days in the heart of this old land, a very special experience made possible by generous people, open doors and the cultural richness the defines Oaxaca.

Tour Itinerary by Day:
(B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

Day 1, Oct 30th, Sunday (D) Arrivals in Oaxaca. Meeting with guide, introductions, trip overview and orientation. Group dinner.
Accomodation: Hotel un Sueño, Oaxaca City (unsueno.com/ciudad/)

Day 2,Oct 31st, Monday(BLD) We dive in! There is a wonderful market by and for the people of Teotitlan and we’ll visit first thing this morning. Everyone will be there doing their last minute shopping for meals and altar decoration. We are here for the same thing! On our shopping list: a chicken, tangerines, loquats, tomatoes, cacao seeds, marigolds, etc, etc! Then I’ll introduce you to a village candle maker to see how hand made beeswax candles are made…and adorned with wax flowers. And we’ll pick up a few for the alter. We’ll take a leisurely peek into the flower scented, candle adorned village church and a few moments to stretch our legs in the village center. In the afternoon we’ve got chores to do. Those market goods need to be prepared for tomorrow’s feasting. With my sister and brother-inlaw we’ll help toast chilies and cacao, soak corn leaves for tamales, boil the corn. Overnight in a plaza side hotel in the nearby town of Mitla.
Accomodation: Hotel Don Cenobio, Mitla (www.hoteldoncenobio.com)

Day 3, Nov 1st, Tuesday(BL) Take a bit of time this morning to explore the town of Mitla on your own. Out the front door of our hotel there is a lively Day of the Dead market. Five blocks up the road the beautiful ruined palaces of old Mitla. Then we return to Teotitlan where we’ll spend the morning at my house making tamales and tortillas and decorating the house alter with the family. Lunch will be our own home made tamales. Then something very special; it is our custom on the night of the 1st to visit the house alters of kin in the village, leaving an offering and accepting a ritual gift of bread, chocolate and mezcal. You will join us as we walk from house to house.
Accomodation: Hotel Don Cenobio, Mitla (www.hoteldoncenobio.com)

Day 4, Nov 2nd, Wednesday(BLD) Our morning begins with a traditional celebration day breakfast.We’ll have higadito (think Zapotec quiche) and chocolate atole, a pre-Hispanic cacao beverage that features an amazing froth! Afterwards I’ll share my favorite subject, tapestry weaving! Looms, wool, sacks of plants, clay dyeing pots, wood smoke. Welcome to my studio!! We’ll also visit the homes of a couple more weavers, for Teotitlan is the biggest tapestry weaving village in Mexico and we’ll take a peek at what is being done here. In the afternoon we’ll visit the Teotitlan graveyard to say good bye to the departing spirits together with the whole village. Overnight in Mitla.
Accomodation: Hotel Don Cenobio, Mitla (www.hoteldoncenobio.com)

Day 5, Nov 3rd, Thursday(BLD) With the souls of our ancestors departed we change pace today, travelling beyond Teotitlan into other Zapotec villages to meet some of the master crafts people for which Oaxaca is so famous. We begin in Mitla where we meet a family of flying shuttle loom weavers, followed by a visit to one of the last lace blouse makers in Tlacolula (truly fine work…and she’s working to teach a new generation). We’ll round out the day meeting a family that has been making pottery for over 100 generations.
Accomodation: Hotel Don Cenobio, Mitla (www.hoteldoncenobio.com)

Day 6, Nov 4th, Friday (BL) We bid Mitla farewell and head into new territory. We’ll have an aromatic visit to a top notch, small batch mezcal still to learn how agave cactus is turned into this high end distillate. Then we’ll visit the Rodolfo Morales Foundation, created by the legendary Oaxacan painter of the same name, and learn how this man used his good fortune to the benefit of others. We’ll also visit a village famous for its fascinating carved wooden figures and finish the day meeting my friend, traditional-contemporary ceramist, Carlo Magno Pedro, in his home workshop in Coyotepec. Afternoon will find us back in Oaxaca City.
Accomodation: Hotel un Sueño, Oaxaca City (unsueno.com/ciudad/)

Day 7, Nov 5th, Saturday (BD) We’ll spend our final day enjoying the old city of Oaxaca. With the masses of Day of the Dead tourists now gone home, the city is more agreeable. We’ll walk the streets and visit a few note worthy institutions, meeting with the founder of the inspirational artisans coop, Casa de las Artesanias, a private tour of the Oaxacan Textile Museum, and a stroll through the beautiful San Pablo Cultural center. The afternoon is yours for exploring, shopping, café sitting, or if you’d like, we can organize an optional trip for you to see the big ruins of the ancient temples of Monte Alban. We meet for a good final dinner and talk about what we’ve seen and done.
Accomodation: Hotel un Sueño, Oaxaca City (unsueno.com/ciudad/)

Day 8, Nov 6th, Sunday (B) Travel onward, travel home or stay in Oaxaca for solo adventures. Our trip comes to a close with breakfast.


Tour Name: Ancestors Journey: Arts, Food and Ritual in Oaxaca’s Days of the Dead
Where: Oaxaca Valleys
When: Oct 30th – Nov 6th, 2016
Duration: 8 days / 7 nights
Tour Capacity: 11 passengers
Cost: $2,150 usd
Early Bird Discount: $1,950 usd if you pay before July 15th
Single Supplement: $300
Optional Tour to Monte Alban: $45 usd (minimum of 3 participants)

Included: hotel, all listed meals, private transport, 2 guides, entry fees for listed events and visits.

Not Included:
Does not include alcoholic drinks, airport transfers, airfare, tips to guides.


To reserve your place please fill out our Registration Form.

Registrations will be considered confirmed upon receipt of deposit of $450.
You will have two options to pay online: by credit card payment or with a paypal account.

The balance of your tour price is due 90 days before the beginning of the tour (July 30th). We will send you a reminder email about a week before that time.

Cancellation Fees: Days Prior to Departure
91 or more days - deposit refunded less $250 administration fee
61-90 days - 75% of tour fee refunded
31-60 days - 50% of tour fee refunded
30 days or less - no refund