Day 1: Arrive Tuxtla Gutierrez, where you will be transferred to the colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas, named after the beloved Bartolome de las Casas, who was known as the "conscience of the conquest", as he admonished the Spanish monarchy to change their attitudes and behavior towards the indigenous population. San Cristobal sits at 7,000 feet, and the air is clear and light. We enjoy a welcome dinner.
Day 2: We start off with an orientation Breakfast, Introduction to Maya Weaving Traditions in the Highlands of Chiapas to get an overview of the week ahead; the villages and weaving traditions we will be seeing. Our first trek is to Amatenango and Aguacatenango to review pottery and weaving traditions of these villages. We visit Mari and Albertina, master potters who will show us their techniques and materials that date back to the pre-Hispanic era. We will learn of the unique dress that identifies women from Amatenango, a form of cultural passport, recognized throughout the region. Lunch at La Diligencia. In the afternoon we take a walking tour of San Cristobal to review motifs and iconography in surrounding architecture. We will also visit select weaving coops and textile shops. Dinner is in town.
Day 3: Today's breakfast discussion focuses on the text and iconography in the Maya weaving of San Andres Larrainzar and Magdalenas, followed by visit to these two important Highland villages. In particular, we will learn of the Ceremonial huipil from Magdalenas and the layers of text and meaning of the woven designs and the form of the huipil, itself. Omnipresent in the Maya iconography are themes of underworld, material world and celestial world (3 planes), the elements (earth, wind, fire and water), and the cardinal points. Also, humankind's relationship to the outer world is always present. When we return to San Cristobal, we will visit the spectacular collection of Maya daily and ceremonial dress, belonging to Sergio Castro, a saintly, renaissance man who has spent much of his life dedicated to improving agricultural and health conditions in highland Maya communities (he is a renown burn doctor). Dinner in town.
Day 4: Today's morning discussion is on the history and evolving weaving traditions of Chamula and Zinacantan, followed by our visit to these two Highland villages. In Zinacantan, flowers are seen everywhere; from the blue and red embroidered smocks worn by the women and men, to the cultivated variety. In Chamula, we learn of mystical healing practices and beliefs of this insular community. It is here we see how different each community is from the other. Returning to town, we lunch at Na Bolom, followed by a brief guided tour of the Na Bolom museum, former home of Gertrude and Frans Blom, who dedicated their lives to improving conditions for the Lacandon Maya. Evening is free to explore the bohemian atmosphere of San Cristobal.
Day 5: After breakfast, we depart for the community of Venustiano Carranza, in the tropical midland region. The cotton backstrap woven blouses here are very light and gauze like, as the region is hot. We will visit homes of master weavers to see this delicate weaving style. From here we visit the Chiflon waterfalls; a light hike to the falls, a swim, followed by lunch. Returning to San Cristobal, the evening is free to sit in the zocalo, stroll the charming (but treacherously uneven) stone streets, visit shops, coops and bookstores.
Day 6: Our last day in the highlands, we will focus on the weaving traditions of Tenejapa and Cancuc. We will visit a special coop that produces extraordinary examples of their local weaving designs. Dinner in San Cristobal.
Day 7: After an early breakfast, we begin our trek to the jungle highlands of Palenque, Bonampak and Yaxchilan. Arriving at Palenque, we are met by Alfonso Morales, who will give us a guided tour of the classic Maya site and museum of Palenque, where Pakal and his sons ruled. Dinner at el Panchan.
Day 8: We embark on an early morning trek to Bonampak to review frescoes depicting pre-hispanic Maya dress and ritual, followed by a journey down the Usumacinta River to the sprawling river front site of Yaxchilan. Our guided visit will focus on the spectacular carved lintels that depict early Maya dress, where we can see the continuity with today's Maya weaving designs and motifs. We have a box lunch on our boats, as we cruise back up the Usumacinta, heading for home. Dinner in Palenque.
Day 9: We are at our leisure in Palenque to explore in the morning, followed by transfer to Villahermosa, for an afternoon visit to the Museo Parque la Venta. Farewell Dinner.
Day 10: Transfer to Villahermosa airport, sadly depart for home.
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