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Mexican History & Indigenous Folk Art
Chiapas, Mexico
Florencio Moreno & Debbie Mounts
October 6 - 16, 2018
US$2100 per person*
(*double occupancy, land only)

Highlights

* Palenque, Ancient Mayan kingdom
* Agua Azul waterfalls
* San Cristobal de las Casas, World heritage Site
* Templo Santo Domingo and Centro de Textiles
* Mayan publishing collective
* Guadalupe Hermosillo Grand Master of Mexican Folk Art
* Village of Amatenango del Valle "The Chiapas Capital of Pottery"
* Village of Tenejapa "Finest textiles in Southern Mexico"
* Sumidero Canyon boat ride

Itinerary

Saturday, October 6

Arrival at 6:20pm to Palenque on Interjet Airline from Mexico City. The group will meet for dinner and orientation at our Hotel Chan Kah (52) 916 345 0762

Sunday, October 7

Today we will explore the awesome ancient kingdom of Lakam Ha, better known as Palenque. The site, centered in the Mayan jungle, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. The Palenque ruins are a massive ancient Mayan site in Chiapas. These impressive Mayan ruins date back to 700 and 800’s AD and are set within the overgrowth of a jungle. There are tall temples which have been excavated, many of which you can climb up to get a birds-eye view of the neighboring temples.
Coming here means placing yourself inside the heart of the magnificent Lacandona Jungle, where you’ll experience the sound, smell, and the out-of-this-world-feeling of being inside the jungle, a real jungle.
After a morning of exploration we will lunch at Maya Cañada.
The balance of the day will be yours to leisure in the wonderful hotel grounds. Bring your swimming suit, if you so desire!
Hotel Chan Kah (Breakfast, Lunch) (52) 916 345 0762

Monday, October 8

Today we drive to the highlands of Chiapas. Along the way we will visit two amazing waterfalls: Mishol Ha and Agua Azul. Here we will enjoy some time to walk around & admire these natural wonders and have a great lunch afterwards. Arrival in San Cristobal at 5:30 and convene for dinner at the restaurant Los Barrios de Jovel. Hotel Casa Mexicana (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) (52) 967 678 1348

Tuesday, October 9

San Cristobal de las Casas is a great base for our near-by adventures in Chiapas. It’s a lovely and lively town in Southern Mexico whose altitude and mountain location further contribute to its appeal. In addition, it is largely inhabited by indigenous people, which adds an interesting cultural flair.
We will visit the Cathedral, which overlooks the main plaza in the center of town. This is not the only church that is worth a visit: there are many beautifully adorned structures all around town. Perhaps the most notable is the lovely Templo Santo Domingo. And for those with extra energy, head up to either of the two churches that are perched atop hills in San Cristobal de las Casas: Iglesia de Guadalupe and  Iglesia de San Cristobal. You’ll not only be rewarded by the ornate churches themselves, but you’ll earn spectacular views of San Cristobal de las Casas.
We will also visit a couple of the most important museums in the City. The Centro de Textiles del Mundo Maya (housed in the Santo Domingo Church) is arguably the best, highlighting textile production throughout the region. We will also head to the Museo de Ambar where the excavation of amber and its production into jewelry is highlighted.
At 2:00 pm, luncheon at restaurant Continental
The afternoon is yours... perhaps one of the best thing to do in San Cristobal de las Casas is to stroll along the many pedestrian-friendly streets and simply soak it all in. Sip some local Chiapan coffee at a cafe or try pox, a local liquor. There’s no shortage of shopping opportunities either as you can find an abundance of locally made handcrafts.
Hotel Casa Mexicana (Breakfast, Lunch) (52) 967 678 1348

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Tour with Milagros Para Ti and Academic Tours Oaxaca

Itinerary contd.

Wednesday, October 10

Today we head out to visit smaller villages and meet exceptional folk artists.
Our first stop is to a publishing collective operated by contemporary Mayan artists. Founded in 1975 by poet Ámbar Past, the Workshop has created the first books to be written, illustrated, printed, bound (in paper of their own making) by Mayan people in over 400 years.
The Leñateros' rescue of old and endangered techniques contributes to the conservation of Indegenous languages, and benefits the ecology by recycling agricultural and industrial wastes, transforming them into art and beautiful books.
Next, we visit San Juan de Chamula to experience its extremely unique and fascinating church, which oddly blends together indigenous Tzotzil Mayan traditions with Catholicism.
From the outside, Templo de San Juan appears to be just like any other Mexican church. However, as John Widmer describes, it’s completely different from any other experience. He states “But inside the church, there are no pews. Instead, dry pine needles cover the tile floor. Soft rhythmic music and clouds of incense fill the air, as light beams in from the few windows on the east side. Mismatched tables line the walls of the church, topped with thousands of flickering candles of all shapes and sizes.
Worshipers kneel down on the pine needle covered floor. Men dress in black wool tunics that look as if they came fresh off a sheep. Don’t be alarmed by the ear-piercing blasts shaking the church. Outside, powerful firecrackers (dynamite?) are lit, another bizarre ritual.
An assortment of dozens of tall skinny candles, big wide pillar candles, and small votive candles all dripping with wax onto the floor is contributed by each churchgoer. They chant prayers in their native tongue. Yet perhaps most peculiar is watching them gulp carbonated orange sodas so that they can loudly burp into the incense-filled air. This is, apparently, how they rid their evil spirits. It’s all very strange yet somehow remains peaceful.
After lunch we meet Guadalupe Hermosillo who has been honored as a Great Master of Mexican Folk Art and whose art is on display at the National Museum of Folk Art in Mexico City. Guadalupe preserves a fading folk art tradition by continuing to hand forge a unique form of religious art; rooftop wrought-iron crosses. The crosses display a wide mix of both Christian and indigenous symbols.
Guadalupe employs techniques introduced by the Spaniards in the 1500s. He produces iron crosses that are most commonly used as decorative house blessings. The crosses were first used as a show of religious fervor and as a symbol of the Passion of Christ during Holy Week.
Hotel Casa Mexicana (Breakfast, Lunch) (52) 967 678 1348

Thursday, October 11

Today we head to 3 small villages in the surrounding highlands to visit with weavers and potters. All three villages support women’s cooperatives where some of the finest traditional weavings and ceramics in all of Mexico is being created. We will meet with master weavers and potters and will have the opportunity to experience some of the unique cultural traditions of these villages.
The village of Aguacatenango is our first stop. It is here that we will visit the co-op run by Angelina Mendez Espinoza where traditional blouses made by the women of the village are sold.
Next, we head to the village of Amatenango del Valle, a Maya Tzeltal speaking community. Amatenango is known as “The Chiapas Capital of Pottery” where local women artisans display and sell their works. The skills necessary to produce the unique pottery of Amatenango have historically been passed down from mother to daughter over the generations and represent jaguars, doves and other natural figures that were native to the region.
It is the women of Amatenango who make the pottery for which the village is famed while the men follow traditional agricultural pursuits although the men may participate in pottery making by helping the women paint the finished works.
Our next stop after lunch is to visit the weaving village of Tenejapa. Though it is off-the-beaten-path and receives very few foreign visitors, Tenejapa is alluring because of its vibrant Thursday market and its fine textiles — among the finest in southern Mexico. We will meet Maria Meza who now operates an independent women’s cooperative in Tenejapa.
Hotel Casa Mexicana (Breakfast, Lunch) (52) 967 678 1348

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Friday, October 12

Today is another BIG weaving adventure.
We meet with Manuela Perez who is the leader of a co-op of women weavers in the village Chenalho.
From here we move on the traditional village of Pantelho known for its expert weavers as well as a major coffee-growing region in Mexico.
Our next stop is the village of San Andres Larrainzar and there, Fidencia Perez, an exceptional weaver, will also host us for a traditional lunch at her home. San Andrés does not attract a large number of tourists but for lovers of fine textiles, it is well worth a visit.
If your only memory of hearing about the State of Chiapas is of the uprising against the Mexican government in the 1990s by local indigenous people who formed a resistance movement known as the Zapatistas; San Andrés Larráinzar was at the center of the conflict and in fact was the site of peace negotiations ending the open hostilities. While the movement still exists in some more remote areas, the current Mexican government is attempting to follow through on many of the promises made in the 1996 settlement and there is now, in general, a peaceful co-existence.
But the attraction San Andrés holds is its reputation of having one of the oldest and finest weaving traditions in of all of Mexico. Typically, San Andrés weavers work with cotton or wool thread colored with natural dyes and use designs that are based on patterns originating in lowland Chiapas during the Classic Maya Period (300-900 A.D.)  
Our last stop of the day is the village of Magdalenas. Magdalenas Aldama is an hour-and-a-half from San Cristobal de Las Casas on a winding road deep into the mountains beyond San Juan Chamula. Its isolation is protection from the forces of modernization. The Spanish had difficulty getting there to evangelize. Traditions run deep and strong.
Magdalenas Aldama women weave some of the most beautiful blouses and huipiles in Chiapas. They are intricate textiles with ancient pre-Hispanic Maya symbols that have spiritual and physical meaning. It can take six to eight months to weave a traditional Gala Huipil used for special occasions.
Hotel Casa Mexicana (Breakfast, Lunch) (52) 967 678 1348

Saturday, October 13

Today is a change of pace…we will be visiting an eco-park with natural grottoes and caves just outside of town. The cave itself is nice. If you’ve done much spelunking in the past, you may be underwhelmed by Grutas de Rancho Nuevo. But these caves are definitely worth a visit. And if you haven’t done much caving before, you’ll likely be fascinated. The smooth trail that winds through the cave is an easy walk and contains guardrails making it safe as well.
Returning to San Cristobal we will stop at Na Bolom Museum, former home of Trudi & Franz Bloom, who spent their lives dedicated to the study of the Lancandon Indians.
We will have a private tour of the Museum with Pepe the curator followed by a great lunch in the traditional dining room of the Museum.
Hotel Casa Mexicana (Breakfast, Lunch) (52) 967 678 1348

Sunday, October 14

Today we pack up and depart to Chiapa de Corzo. Upon our arrival we will take a boat tour of the extremely beautiful Sumidero Canyon. Following that we will enjoy lunch at a great restaurant El Campanario.
Chiapa de Corzo is listed as one of the “Pueblos Magicos” (Magical Towns) by the Mexico Tourism board and is less than an hour drive from San Cristobal de las Casas. The plaza acts as a focal point of this small colonial town. Here you can check out the clock tower, poke around the big tree – La Pochota – and pay tribute to the Spanish crown at the La Pila fountain.
After a late check-in at the hotel we will meet again to visit the Regional Museum and end the day with a visit to a great master wood carver Jorge Guzman
Hotel La Ceiba (Breakfast, Lunch) (52) 961 616 0389

Monday, October 15

This morning is yours to enjoy as you wish: perhaps a coffee in a local café, a walk to explore the plaza or a swim by the pool.
The evening is our farewell to Mexico with dinner at the delicious restaurant Las Pichanchas, in Tuxtla Gutierrez.
Hotel La Ceiba (Breakfast, Dinner) (52) 961 616 0389

Tuesday, March 16

Depart early for the airport in Tuxtla Gutierrez.
Hotel La Ceiba (Breakfast) (52) 961 616 0389

The itinerary is subject to change. Thank you for traveling with Milagros Para Ti and Academic Tours Oaxaca.