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The History and Use of Natural Dyes in the Americas

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 8 - 9 day(s)
Group Size: 4 - 8 people
Destination(s): Mexico  
Specialty Categories: Textile Arts   Native Americans  
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 1765 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2065 US Dollar (USD)

- Travel to Teotitlan del Valle for workshop
- 3 Day Hands on Workshop, using natural dyes
- Learn of the Ancient Motifs used in weaving.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive in Oaxaca City and depending on arrival time, stroll to the Zocalo and visit city markets. Welcome reception and dinner. Includes: (D).

Day 2: We begin our day with a city orientation, walking tour to learn of the colonial era of Oaxaca, visible by the numerous Dominican churches. At mid-day, we receive a very special guided tour of the Botanical Gardens adjacent to the Santo Domingo Church to learn more of plants used for dyes, medicine and food. We break for lunch at a favorite Oaxaca restaurant, Marco Polo, which is known for outstanding wood oven fired fish. After lunch we visit select craft shops and museums before heading back to Casa Colonial. Light dinner at Casa Colonial. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 3: Traveling East in the Oaxaca Valley we visit one of the regions best open air markets, or "tianguis" in Tlacolula. In the afternoon, we are met at the ancient Zapotec ruins of Mitla by members of the Zapotec coop who will guide us through the symbols and motifs carved into the walls of this Pre-Classic site. We will later see how these motifs are still used today in their weaving designs. Lunch en route. Evening is free to explore independently in Oaxaca City. Includes: (B), (L).

Day 4: We get an early start and transfer to the coop in Teotitlan del Valle, where we will begin our three day workshop in the History and Use of Natural Dyes in this Zapotec weaving community. Workshop Day One: Introduction to Natural Dyes and their use in Oaxaca. After our introduction, we will gather dyestuffs from the organic orchard that is cultivated by the coop. We will wash raw wool, prepare the wool with mordents for dyeing, extract and prepare colors: color focus for day one: Primary Color: Yellow and resultant hues. Includes: (B), (L).

Day 5: On Day Two of the workshop, we will extract colors and prepare dye baths with a focus on indigo, known locally as anil. In the early evening the coop members will lead us on a walking tour of their village, Teotitlan del Valle to learn more about the sacred traditions of the Zapotec people. Tonight, dinner is at Tlamanalli. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 6: On our third and final day of our workshop, we will dedicate the day to extracting and preparing dyes that focus on the primary color red and resultant hues. Red dye in Oaxaca is synonymous with cochineal, the small bug that feeds on the nopal cactus. A stir was created when the Spanish saw the vibrancy and color fast qualities of this dye source and great attempts were made to export this bug for foreign cultivation and use in Europe. Before the microscope was invented, much debate existed as to whether this was an animal or a plant! We have closing remarks from our friends at the coop and return to Oaxaca City. Includes: (B), (L).

Day 7: Today, we continue our learning of the early Zapotec and travel to Monte Alban, the first urban center in Mesoamerica. Thursday is market day in Zaachila, so we pay a visit to this village, stopping for a family style lunch at La Capilla. We visit the nearby artisan communities of Atzompa and Arrazola, known for their pottery and whimsical wood carvings. Includes: (B), (L).

Day 8: Fridays are known in the Valley for the market in Ocotlan. We spend our morning visiting this vibrant community along with adjacent San Antonino, known for their flora-culture. A unique side trip is in store as we travel to a small producer of mezcal to see how this firewater from the agave plant is made. Returning home, we stop in the craft villages of Tilcajete, Jalieza and Coyotepec, known for their whimsical wood carvings, belts and bags woven on backstrap looms and the austere black pottery made by burnishing and firing in oxygen reduced environments. Returning to the City, we have a farewell dinner on the terrace of Casa Oaxaca with Santo Domingo Church in the background. Includes: (B), (D).

Day 9: Return home or extend your stay in Oaxaca.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- 8 Nights accommodations
- Breakfast daily
- Meals, per itinerary
- Entrance fees in itinerary
- Tour guides and transportation
- Workshop Fee
- Airport Transfers.

Price Includes:
- Airfares, International/Domestic
- Meals not listed in itinerary
- Beverages: Soft Drinks, Bottled Water, Liquor
- Cab fares, laundry, personal items
- Gratuities
- Travel Insurance
- Medical Expenses
- Airport Taxes
- Costs associated with trip interruption or modification due to weather, conditions, political/civil disputes, medical emergencies or other causes beyond our control. Travel Insurance is recommended for this purpose.