Itinerary for the Day of the Dead« Back to Trip Overview
Day 1 – October 29th (-/-/-)
We leave home and meet in Oaxaca, Mexico (although the way flights run you might want to arrive the night before to have some extra time for fun!). Most of us will be arriving around 6:30 pm and we’ll meet our wonderful guide at the airport and proceed to the Hotel Casa Vertiz – our beautiful B&B for the week. The smell of great food in the air – we’ll go for a bite to eat at the fabulous restaurant Asador Vasco, one of the delicious restaurants overlooking the main plaza/zocalo. Perhaps we will try the chapulines (crispy grasshoppers fried in garlic and lime)! After dinner we gather as a group and share our intent for our week together. Hotel Casa Vertiz is rated #2 out of 102 hotels in Oaxaca on Trip Advisor.com
Day 2 – October 30th (-/-/-)
Today we’ll have time to connect and start creating our beautiful altar for Day of the Dead and talk about what it means to be living life as an “Artist of the Spirit.” There will time to explore the town as it gears up for the holiday and to have a wonderful dinner together at either La Olla, La Biznaga or El Temple all right near our hotel.
Day 3 – October 31st (-/L/-/S)
This is the day we to go to the market to get everything we need to create our altars! We’ll dedicate the entire morning to visiting the amazing “Day of the Dead Tianguis” at the Abastos Market. It’s so photogenic seeing the piles of unique breads, sugar skulls, flowers, candles and all the Day of the Dead ornaments that local families purchase to make their home altars to their loved ones. Every one will buy their breads, special skeletons, candles, flowers, and food for our Day of Dead Altar that our group will make at the hotel.
After the altar shopping is completed we will enjoy a group lunch at the fabulous restaurant Casa Oaxaca Café, in Colonia Reforma, an upscale neighborhood just beyond the city center, and then we’ll go back to the hotel to create our own altars then rest to get ready for the late evening/night wake to receive the departed!
The most popular graveyard is in the village of Xoxocotlan. This evening, we will meet at 7:00 p.m. to go to a nearby town to be hosted for hot chocolate and DOD tamales & bread with the Hernandez family. We will accompany them to their local cemetery to take part in the yearly celebration of the arrival of the “Angelitos” (the children who have passed). It will be wonderful to help them clean & decorate one of their families graves, a very special experience. We’ll bring along a gift for allowing us to join them: flowers, incense, candles, etc and also leave a donation. Overnight Hotel Casa Vertiz
Day 4 – November 1st (-/L/-)
Today we explore Monte Albán, one of ancient México’s most impressive ceremonial centers. This massive complex of pyramids, terraces and crumbling temples is considered one of the most important examples of pre-Columbian culture in all of México. Constructed by a culture that possessed a genius for building, this spectacular city is one of the most thoroughly explored archaeological sites in México. Throughout the centuries Monte Albán has continued to amaze those who study the site and has never failed to remain both magical and mysterious. Monte Alban sits 1200 feet above the valley floor. This location gave the residents a clear view of the Oaxaca valleys. The city was constructed by the Zapotecs who first moved to this site around 500 B.C. The city experienced its peak or golden age for a period of 500 years, ending around A.D. 600. During this time, the population of the city was nearly 25,000 people with an additional 100,000 people living in the valley below. After this golden age, and for reasons still unknown, the city was abandoned. We’ll have time to meditate at the site and have a ceremony at this powerful ruin.
From here we can have some lunch at the traditional restaurant Los Caporales and the village of Soledad Etla to take part in the Comparsa Parade. The Comparsas – are a series of Carnival style parades that go from village to village in an area of the valley. The people will be all dressed up with fantastic outfits and brass bands accompany them and it’s very festive.
If we have time we might visit the artisan town of Atzompa. Atzompa is where the green-glazed pottery is produced. It is incredibly beautiful and is in use daily all over México, and other parts of the world. We may stop by the “La Casa del Artesano” and see how these beautiful terracotta and green glazed items are made following ancient, ancestral techniques. We can also drive back to the San Miguel Cemetery as this evening 10,000 candles are lit as judges walk through to select the winners of the Oaxacan annual contest of Day of the Dead Altars and Sand Carpets. Overnight Hotel Casa Vertiz
Day 5 – November 2nd (-/L/-)
Today we’ll be traveling east of the city to visit the Tule tree, a truly remarkable being. The Tule tree, “El Arbol del Tule” is said to be the world’s largest tree, and once you see this magnificent natural wonder you will not doubt this claim. El Tule, is a Montezuma Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum), or Ahuehuete in the Nahuatl language and has the stoutest trunk of any tree in the world! The Tule tree is 170 ft round, 41 meters tall, weighs over 500 tons and is over 2000 years old. Spending time in her presence and merging with her with open your heart.
Then we’ll have lunch at at the home of a family of candle makers in Teotitlan del Valle. Teotitlán is a traditional Zapotec village, famous for the intricate woven rugs produced here. The rugs, and other items are all hand-loomed out of wool. Designs vary from traditional to contemporary. Natural dyes made from indigo, insects, different types of mosses, sea snails, and other earthly sources are still commonly used. There are shops on the small main street devoted to selling the local products. If you really like these rugs (you will), do a little searching and find the homes of the weavers where you can privately browse through the inventory. If you get on friendly terms with the weaver you will probably be able to strike a better deal than in the local stores. Overnight Hotel Casa Vertiz
Day 6 – November 3rd (-/L/-)
Today we visit the XVI century convent of Cuilapan de Guerrero & wood carving village of San Martin Tilcajete. This Dominican ex-convent of Santiago Apóstol was left unfinished sometime in the middle of the 16th century, but the cloister, walls, cupola and foundations of what was supposed to be an enormous church remains.
Afterwards, we’ll stop at the traditional village of San Martin Tilcajete to see the traditional wood carvers of the famous Alebrijes. Alebrijes, are imaginary, fantasy animals, and many other objects that are carved out of a local wood named copal. These imaginative carvings come in all shapes, sizes and are usually brightly colored with intricate designs, all panted by hand. Here we’ll be hosted for a traditional lunch by a family of wood carvers.
On our way back we’ll stop to see the making of the famed black pottery of the village of San Bartolo Coyotepec, where we will first visit the famed potter Carlo Magno Pedro who specializes in Day of the Dead Art. Then we’ll visit the home of Sofia & Simón Reyes, a family with many generations of making traditional ollas and they will give a demo of their traditional work. Overnight Hotel Casa Vertiz
Day 7 – November 4th (-/-/-)
Today we have a chance to explore the city of Oaxaca, enjoy the shopping, crafts, stores and people. No visit is complete without exploring the Santo Domingo Church — one of the great monastery-church compounds of Mexico, seat of the Dominican order in Oaxaca since the 16th century and now the only residence out of the more than 40 that existed originally. The dignified exterior leads one to expect something quiet and dignified inside but you can only gasp at the incredible sight of the whole interior of the church covered in gleaming decoration. Aldous Huxley described it as “one of the most extravagantly gorgeous churches in the world.” Today is also a great day for catching up on shopping in this amazing artisans town. Overnight Hotel Casa Vertiz
Day 8 – November 5th (-/L/-)
After breakfast we are off the beautiful sacred ruins of Yagul and Mitla IF we have time for both. The Yagul archaeological site was settled at approximately the same time as Monte Albán, but actually outlasted Monte Albán. The site, which is located on a beautiful hillside location, contains three distinct parts and houses the largest ball court in the Oaxaca valley. The architectural makeup is, in many ways similar to that of Monte Albán and also contains parts that resemble parts of Mitla. Yagul contains some incredible facades, engravings and hieroglyphics. This site is easily accessible and makes for some great photography, especially from the hill above the ruins.
In ancient times Mitla was an important Zapotec ceremonial center and home of the Zapotec priestly class. It was inhabited from around 100 AD to its peak around 750 AD. The ancient city was probably planned and is known for the artistic quality of construction and the beauty of the intricate patterns and designs of some facades and tombs. To date, five large architectural complexes have been found. The main church of the small town was actually built by the Spaniards on some of the ruins. Overnight Hotel Casa Vertiz
Day 9 – November 6th (-/-/-)
Today we leave our beautiful bed & breakfast hotel and make our way back to the airport and get ready for our flights home. We say our last goodbyes, hugs and kisses as we prepare to take our new dream of heaven back to our lives!
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