SPECIAL PRICE: $2,995 | GOES UP TO $3,745 ON OCT 8, 2020
- Adult Special Price
Arguably three of the most iconic natural dyes on earth, cochineal, indigo and shell-dyed purple are the focus of this dyer’s journey and hands-on workshop. If you love natural dyes and traditional culture, this trip is for you.
Our travels take us from the UNESCO World Heritage city of Oaxaca to the peaceful weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle to a small cove on the tropical Pacific which is one of the last places on earth where mollusks are “milked” to create a purple dye.
The core of our journey will be focused in Teotitlan, where we’ll work with a selection of true master dyers and learn from them their secrets and approaches to creating colors with cochineal and indigo as well as peeks at other colors, like those derived from lichens and a kind of wild chamomile. These masters tease dozens of tones from these noble dyes and vertible rainbows when they combine them with other natural dyes.
Then, on the other side of the Sierra Madre we witness something truly rare and extraordinary. The Mixtec people of the Oaxacan coast are the last traditional people on earth who continue to dye using purpura panza, a sea mollusk related to murex. Our’s is the privilege to witness this process with one of the last masters, a true cultural treasure.
We’ll also meet a collective of weavers and knitters working with brown cotton and reviving a village’s economy, see how cochineal is used in traditional food, immerse ourselves in a fascinating indigenous market, swim in the warm Pacific Ocean, see exquisite tapestry weaving, meet a group of weavers who work with shell dyed thread, eat delicious Oaxacan cuisine, travel through the sub tropical coffee growing mountains of the Sierra Madre and rather a lot more.
- Hands-on dye workshops with cochineal, indigo, lichens and wild chamomile
- Witness purple dyeing using sea mollusks
- Meet a collective a women reviving brown cotton
- Explore indigenous markets and villages
- Swim in the warm, clear, blue Pacific Ocean
- Meet master tapestry weavers
Day 1/ SUN. Nov 8th– (D) WELCOME TO THE LAND OF COLOR!
Today the journey begins. Welcome to Mexico, a land where color reigns supreme everywhere you look and where an ancient heritage of weaving and dyeing continues to exist. We will have our first meeting at 6pm at our hotel in Oaxaca City. We’ll meet, greet and eat a yummy dinner together
Overnight in Oaxaca
DAY 2 / Mon. Nov 9th – (B,L) OAXACA CITY
Today we’ll enjoy being in Oaxaca city, undeniably one of the cultural jewels of Oaxaca, recognized for its architecture, folk art, cuisine, contemporary art and festival life. If I were you I’d arrive a few days before the tour to simply BE in this city. But for our purposes, we’ll offer you a little taste on our first full tour day .With a walk through the heart of town to show you around and a couple of key, textile focused visits, we’ll at least whet your appetite for more. We’ll visit the Oaxacan Textile Museum in an elegant, restored monastery and we’ll visit the shop of the master of Oaxacan textile renaissance, Remegio Mestas. This shop is like a museum of the best of the best of indigenous textiles from throughout the state. Then we set you free. Go, explore, enjoy, absorb, experience, BE! We will gather for dinner, and get excited about our adventures ahead.
Overnight in Oaxaca
DAY 3/Tue. Nov 10th – (B,L,D) COLLECTING COLORS
Onward we travel. Our destination for the next three days is what is probably the largest weaving village in Mexico, Teotitlan del Valle. By large I don’t mean metropolitain like, there aren’t more than 8,000 people in the whole village. By large I mean lots of weavers…perhaps 5,000 people quietly working away in their houses on stout floor looms creating colorful woolen tapestries. Most of the color comes from synthetic dyes, but a handful of masters are working with an amazing array of natural colors. They are the people we will be meeting and working with and the reason we’ll spend three full days in this friendly Zapotec indigenous village. This morning we meet master dyer and grand gentleman, Demetrio Baustista, for an overview of the natural dyes used in Teotitlan. Demetrio, like most of the dyers here, is relatively young. They are the revival, bringing back a tradition that was almost lost in the last century. They’ve brought it back with astounding skill. With Demetrio we head to the hills and collect lichens and pericon and we’ll work with them to create mustards and greens. And Demetrio will show you his rainbow of natural-dyed rugs. You may be tempted. In the afternoon we’ll take a fun jaunt to the nearby village of San Miguel where the women make floral embroidered aprons. These are the common daily wear of women throughout Oaxaca. And they might come in handy for the play we’ll be doing with reds and blues. (PS Our visit to Teotitlan will be focused on natural dyes, but it’s very worth noting that most of our meals here will be home cooked, traditional Zapotec cuisine. You will begin to understand why Mexico has been recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO for its cuisine) Overnight in Teotitlan
DAY 4/ Wed. Nov 11th – (B,L,D) INDIGO
Today the blues! The lowlands of Oaxaca were once a center of indigo production, and the heritage of blue hasn’t been lost. We’ll spend the whole day working with Juana Gutierrez, a wonderful dyer featured in the new book, True Colors by Keith Recker. Our workshop will include a woven shawl for each of us that we’ll work on dyeing in wood heated caldrons in an outdoor courtyard. We’ll play with indigo and explore about 10 different shades of blue. Plus enjoy a home cooked lunch and the pleasure of being in an old time village.
Overnight in Teotitlan
DAY 5/ Thu. Nov 12th – (B,L,D)
COCHINEAL Fidel Lazo, who has participated in the legendary International Folkart Market of Santa Fe with his natural dyed wool and alpaca rugs is a true master of cochineal. This incomparable natural red dye was once king in Oaxaca, the wealth generated by its sale funded the construction of many grand colonial era churches. Production died with the invention of synthetic dyes over a century ago, but craftsmen like Fidel are bringing it back. Fidel finesses dozens and dozens of tones out of cochineal and today we’ll learn how he does this as he goes through the processes of dyeing skeins of wool in different ways to create a rainbow of reds, purples and oranges. In the afternoon we’ll meet one more dye master for a more brief peek at his explorations with color and shibori techniques.
Overnight in Teotitlan
Day 6/ Fri. Nov 13th – (B,L,D)
After eating a hearty breakfast we’ll hit the road again leaving Teotitlan behind, stopping off to visit a center doing research on cochineal. Then it’s onwards to Santo Tomas Jalietza to meet a family of backstrap weavers. As luck may have it today is market day, we’ll eat at Ocotlan Market and have a stroll around the stalls before heading off to Rio Hondo where we’ll have some free time and dinner together to prepare for the next day
Overnight Sierra Madre
Day 7/Sat. Nov 14th – (B,L,D)
REVIVING A MOUNTAIN VILLAGE WITH BROWN COTTON we’ll head to the misty pine forests into a small community where a couple of visionaries, inspired by the work of Gandhi, lead a collective of women and men from the village that is both reviving the village’s economy and creating a market for natural brown cotton grown on the coast of Oaxaca. The whole good work is achieved through spinning, weaving, dyeing and knitting. We’ll meet the people involved, learn about the project and see the work they are doing. Plus breath the cool mountain air and spend the night among the pines. Overnight Sierra Madre
DAY 8/ Sun. Nov 15th – (B,L)
Today we’ll spend the morning with the collective learning about their work and taking part in activities. We’ll enjoy a delicious home cooked lunch and then…. Onward we travel, descending from the great mountains and into the coast of Oaxaca to the balmy resort of Huatulco. I gotta tell you the truth, we aren’t the resort kinda people, but the town is mellow and friendly, and most importantly, it is the gateway to the rocky shoreline where the last of the shell dyers do their work.
Overnight in Huatulco
Day 9/ Mon. Nov 6th – (B,L,D)
THE LAST SHELL DYERS There are 14 men left on earth who continue to dye thread purple using sea mollusks as part of an unbroken, living tradition. They are the men of Pinotepa de don Luis, the tixinda dyers. Today we will get in a motorboat with one of them and travel past cliffs and bays until we come to the place where they milk purpura panza. We’ll see a process that only a handful of people have ever seen and we’ll learn about their heritage and struggles to maintain this unique sea mollusk. Bring your camera! And also bring your swimsuit, for as luck would have it, purpura panza lives adjacent to the most gorgeous beach. You will want to swim! Afternoon will find us under the palm thatch roof of a beach restaurant thirty feet from the sea and with plenty of fresh fish and cold beer. We’ll gather for dinner, remenice over our adventures and bring our colorful journey to a close.
Overnight in Huatulco
DAY 10/Tue. Nov 17th – (B) DEPARTURES
Bon voyage. Huatulco has an international airport with affordable connections to Mexico City, and internationally. If you cannot find a direct flight from an accessible airport then you may consider the option of purchasing a round trip ticket to Mexico City and two one way tickets: Mexico City to Oaxaca City and Huatulco to Mexico City, to complete your travels. Interjet, Volaris, Vivaaerobus and Aeromexico are all good Mexican airlines that often run these routes.
- Three hands-on dye workshops and materials
- A Professional, bilingual guide
- 10 nights accommodation based on double occupancy
- All local transport in private van
- Entry fees, tips for meals
- Local guides
- High quality, small group travel
- 9 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 7 Dinners
See itinerary for included meals. We have chosen to leave some dinners out when we are in places where people can easily find dining on their own. This gives people a chance to explore, have time away from the group, chose not to eat if their stomachs are satiated (almost always the case on our tours) and gives the guides some recovery time as well.
- Insurance. Full Comprehensive Travel Insurance is mandatory for this tour
- Travel and medical insurance
- All services, meals other than those indicated above, alcoholic beverages
- Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
- All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, medical needs, tips etc
- Tips to tour guides
Our tour begins in Puerto Escondido and ends in Oaxaca Mexico. Consider the option of purchasing a round trip ticket to Mexico City and two one way tickets: Mexico City to Puerto Escondido and Oaxaca to Mexico City, to complete your travels. Interjet, Volaris, Vivaaerobus and Aeromexico are all good Mexican airlines that often run these routes. One way tickets can be had at good prices.
To witness the shell dyeing process we travel via open top motor boat over several miles of ocean, clamber out at a beach and must walk across uneven rocks and boulders to see the process. You will want good fitting tennis shoes or water sandals (like Chacos or Tevas) for the rock scramble and must have decent equilibrium to be able to walk on the rocks. We are there to help with the rock walk, but cannot guarantee access if you are not able to walk on the rocks. We will accommodate by bringing the shellfish to you to view if you are not able to walk over the rocks.
The roads through the Sierra Madre are very winding. Come prepared if you are affected by motion sickness.