Crafting Day of the Dead

Quick Details

Dates: Oct 29-Nov 3rd

Duration: 5 nights/6 days

Capacity: 11 Maximum

What: Single Village Cultural Immersion

Where: Oaxacan central valleys

Departing and ending point: Oaxaca City, Mexico

Optional: Pay 50% deposit to reserve your spot | $895.00

About Crafting Day of the Dead

This trip is unique, for it is largely focused on going deep into a single, traditional community. It is for those who want to learn how elegant ceremony and remembrance is created; woven of handmade meals,  fresh flowers, beeswax candles, stone-milled chocolate, a night of altar visits and the slow gathering of a village to give love to their departed ancestors. 6 days, 5 nights of beautifully genuine travel.

Day of the Dead is a celebration of life! It is entirely about family, community and sharing the gift of beauty. This experience is for those who want to live that beauty, community and celebration.

Our immersion puts us in the midst of the preparations and celebration of this important ceremony and as we participate, we learn. We’ll try our hands at the candle-makers craft. We’ll make Oaxacan mole and tamales, learn how to make tortillas, meet potters who make stone-polished cookware, cut flowers, visit a mezcal distiller and cottage industry apron makers, mill our own chocolate, visit the baker, head to the village market, learn a few words in Zapotec and bring it all together to create our own Day of the Dead altar. One that is composed of elements that are infused with own creative spirit.

As we learn these skills we’ll be meeting a village, and for a sweet, long moment, becoming part of that village. We stay in the village of Teotitlan, walking to the market, buying our breakfast ingredients, cooking together, spending time with Zapotec women and men who share their skills and knowledge with us.

On the special night of ritual altar visits and offerings of food gifts in the village, we will visit the households of people we have come to know. And they will come to make offerings to our altar as well.

It is called Day of the Dead, but it is many days, for a celebration is like a fine meal, comprised of diverse ingredients, including patience, skill and care. It is not only the food of that meal that nourishes, but all that goes into the crafting of it. This is precisely what this journey of slow food and slow arts is about; being nourishes by all that goes into the crafting of the day of the dead.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Learn to make tamales, mole, tortillas, chocolate
  • Hands-on candle making and altar building
  • Meet weavers, natural dyers, potters, mezcal distillers
  • Slow down and meet the people of a beautiful village
  • Become part of Oaxaca’s Day of the Dead celebration
  • Chevron down What’s Included
    • All lodging during trip based on double occupancy
    • Transfer to/from airport
    • All meals
    • Superb guide
    • Transport in private van
    • Entry/workshop and demo fees
  • Chevron down Not Included
    • Airfare
    • Alcoholic beverages and personal items
    • Gratuities for your Traditional Mexico guides may be given at your discretion in response to their professionalism and leadership. The industry standard is for each individual guest to tip the guide team 5-10% of the trip price.
  • Chevron down Itinerary
  • B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner included in trip cost

    Day 1, Tues (D) Welcome!

    We will meet tonight at 6PM at our house/hotel in the Zapotec village of Teotitlan to learn about our special journey, introduce ourselves and enjoy our first Oaxacan dinner. Airport transfer to Teotitlan included.  

    Overnight in Teotitlan del Valle.

    Day 2, Wed (BLD)  

    Good morning and bravo to a home cooked breakfast! Though we’ll be immersed in the happenings of Teotitlan for most of our experience, our journey begins by exploring beyond the village. We’ll visit an artisanal apron making workshop, a key piece of Oaxacan wardrobe. You may want to make one yours, there will be opportunities to use it! Then we pour ourselves into the thriving Tlacolula market, immersed in humanity, sights and scents until we’ve had our fill. A country road takes us to an ancient pottery village where a home cooked (on clay) lunch awaits in a household of women who are master potters. Pottery makes food, food is so essential in the Day of the Dead festivities. Perhaps pick up a bean pot? An incense burner for the altar?  We’ll see their work and enjoy some moments of the art of simply sitting and visiting. Then to a mezcal distillery to learn how this special smokey drink is made, taste it, and perhaps bring some home for the altar.

    Overnight in Teotitlan del Valle.

    Day 3, Thurs (BLD)

    Every morning in Teotitlan there is a farmer’s market by and for the villagers. We will walk there today and purchase ingredients to make our breakfast. Then to the home of Maria with whom we’ll cook up our bounty, devour it and then learn how an ancient, ritual corn/cacao drink called chocolate atole is made. Onward to the home/workshop of a beeswax candle making family. Day of the Dead and candles are made for each other, and we’ll have a hands-on candle making workshop (note, these are unlike any candles you’ve ever seen!). Then we’ll make some proper Oaxacan chocolate. Cacao, cinnamon, sugar, well ground, formed into cakes. We’ll be needing this for the celebrations! Finally tamales step 1. Tamales are essential to the rituals and sharing in Teotitlan. Today the corn leaves and turkey need to be prepared for the final tamale making tomorrow. (Note, preparing the turkey does not mean going to the supermarket. For those a bit squeamish , you may sit out of this part). Oh, a visit to the baker to buy bread.  

    Overnight in Teotitlan del Valle.

    Day 4, Fri (BLD)

    This morning we make tamales with masa, our turkey meat and a red sauce all wrapped in corn leaves and cooked in clay over steam. Tamales, tamales! And then we decorate our altar: candles and flowers, clay and mezcal, tamales and fruit and symbols of our beloved departed. At 3 pm the village bells begin to ring, signaling the arrival of the ancestors. It is time to go visiting. We will stop by the graveyard to see what is going on and then join in the stream of people going among the homes of kin in ritual family altar visits to make offerings of chocolate and bread. And we will receive visitors at our altar as well, reciprocating the gifts of food and hospitality. If you are moved deeply by the experiences of community and remembrance this evening, then you have come to the right place.

    Overnight in Teotitlan del Valle.

    Day 5, Sat (BLD)

    We return to Maria’s house for a traditional morning meal called higadito. Then we’ll participate in the ins and outs of making Teotitlan mole sauce with its chilis, tomatoes, spices and nuts. As it simmers we’ll learn a bit about tapestry weaving (not a hard thing to do as there are about 5,000 weavers in this village of 8,000 humans!) and visit the lovely community museum to discover some of the history of this ancient place that has been our home for a sweet moment. Lunch will be our own mole, of course!  Then a bit of free time to rest, explore, digest. In the evening we travel out to another graveyard in another village for the pure heart moving joy of seeing such normally somber places filled with people, candles and flowers all aglow in the night.

    Overnight in Teotitlan del Valle.

    Day 6, Sun (B)

    Our journey ends this morning after breakfast and we’ll see to getting you to the airport or Oaxaca city as your schedule requires (though I suspect some of you will never want to leave Teotitlan again!)