An Invitation to an Amazing Oaxacan Adventure

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Tour 2016

I will, once again, be offering a tour of Oaxaca under the auspices of the Reed College Alumni Association.  (Drumroll and thank you Reed).  The tour will be open to alumni, family, friends, and interested parties.  Details and itinerary as follows:

Oaxaca Oaxaca - A Cultural & Culinary Tour
Sept 23 - Oct 2    2016
 10 days, 9 nights
$2,295 * 

Travel  the unbroken thread of traditions in Oaxaca. Explore the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Oaxaca and it's happening contemporary art and food scene. Experience indigenous culture past and present.  Visit colonial era churches and monasteries including some of the oldest in the Americas.   The roots of food and culture run deep in Oaxaca and I have picked the best of the best for you.

Highlights include -
-Exploring  three major archaeological sites
-Visits with master weavers, potters, and woodworkers
-Journeys to colonial churches & monasteries
- Trips to indigenous markets, villages, & homes
-Private cooking class
-From Street Food to Four Star -  the best of  Pre Hispanic & Contemporary Dining
-An extremely engaging bi-lingual guide to travel with us outside of the city 
-Small group limited to 10 people 
Itineray is as follows: 

Friday Sept 23 - Gather at Casa Colonial, our lovely home away from home.  Enjoy the lush gardens, the rich folk art collection, and the library packed with books on Mexico and Oaxaca.  Light supper for everyone including those coming in late.

Saturday Sept 24 - After enjoying our breakfast filled with fruits, juices, and Mexican specialties, we're off with out beloved guide Pablo Gonzalez to explore the magnificent ruins of Mt Alban and revel in this hilltop view of the Central Valley. Return for an afternoon lunch at the Casa.  Siesta and free time.  Towards evening we'll stroll downtown for dinner at one of Oaxaca's finest restaurants and enjoy the zocalo and nightlife. There may be some Mezcal tastings involved.
Sunday Sept 25 - Up bright and early for a full day of touring outside the city with Pablo.  We'll head off to the Sunday Market in Tlacolula.  Indigenous people from all over the Central Valleys come to sell, socialize, and do their weekly shopping at this colorful, bustling market, my favorite one in all of Oaxaca.  Strange fruits, live music, and indigenous crafts all add to the merriment.  Plus we'll visit the Silver Church, newly restored and, rightly, considered a Baroque masterpiece. Lunch will be at one of the many delicious Fonda's serving goat barbacoa, a Oaxacan specialty. Late afternoon finds us on  a short excursion to the ruins of Mitla where Pablo will, once again, dazzle you with his vast knowledge of pre-Hispanic history. Late dinner upon our return to the Casa.

Monday Sept 26 - We'll go out to the lovely Rancho Aurora at Seasons of My Heart Cooking School for a cooking class and learn about what makes Oaxacan cooking so special.  This is your chance to find out everything you wanted to know about chiles, moles, mezcals, vanilla, plantains and more.  Practice cooking over a comal, whipping chocolate and tying tamales.  Then we'll all sit down and enjoy the feasts of our labor.  Free time back at the Casa.  You can choose to stay in for dinner or take this free night to explore one of Oaxaca's many fine restaurants.

Tuesday Sept 27 - Free morning with optional outing to Itanoni, a hole in the wall restaurant famous for it's devotion to using heritage corn varieties.  Alice Waters said she had the best tortilla of her life here. At 1 the lovely people from the micro finance lending organization, En Via pick us up and take us to a  village where we visit with local women who teach us about their home based businesses. Learn about the power of microfinance.  See how your tourist dollars contribute.  This tour offers a rare glimpse into village life and is your opportunity to talk politics, business, and anything else that's on your mind with local families.   Light dinner at the Casa upon our return.

Wednesday Sept 28 - Free day to shop and explore, visit museums, markets, and churches, or relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of Oaxaca City and her beautiful zocalo.  We can arrange mezcal tours, cooking classes, horseback riding, massage, or more depending on your inclinations.  Early evening we'll leave to go visit the studios of a local artist and, weather permitting, enjoy a  rooftop meal in town.

Thursday Sept 29 - Today we head out to the Mixteca Alta, a much poorer and drier part of the state that was once home to large indigenous  populations and site of some of the earliest churches and monasteries in  the Americas. This is definitely off the tourist track but well worth it. The magnificent church of Yanhuitlan is our destination with a surprise or two along the way. Old World Spain meets New World Mexico
Friday Sept 30 - A leisurely morning and then off to the town of Teotitlan de Valle, where we'll visit weavers famous for their natural dyes and spectacular designs.  Lunch in Teo and a visit to their beautiful church which blends Catholicism with native traditions. This evening we'll enjoy an eight course meal in a lovely garden featuring dishes from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.  This might have been my most memorable meal of the last tour.  
Saturday Oct 1 - Our last full day, we have a morning outing to visit master craftsman and potter Lorenzo Mateo Galan and his family at their home studio. Prepare to be mesmerized as you watch him ply his craft much like his ancestors were doing a thousand years ago.  If there is time, we'll visit the folk art museum  Free time in the afternoon to pack, make last minute purchases, and enjoy the beautiful city. We'll end the night with a fantastic farewell fiesta at the Casa.
Sunday Oct 2 - We'll arrange transport to the airport as you head off to your next destination. 

*$2,295 cost of the tour includes shared lodging at our lovely abode, all transportation in Oaxaca including airport transfers, most meals (we've left two times for you to explore dining on your own but all other meals are covered - we'll eat home cooking at the Casa, the best of street food, & at four star restaurants ), all guides, all tours and entrance fees. Cost does not include air transportation to Oaxaca, any personal shopping, laundry,  alcohol, and tips for guides and hotel staff (totally optional).

For more information about our very beautiful and soulful accomodations  go to this link by clicking here.

About Me- Jewel Murphy ('82) - I first traveled to Mexico & Guatemala  in 1979 on a wanderlust/walkabout between my sophomore and junior years at Reed. I eventually graduated in 1982 with a major in fine arts and art history.  Since then I've concentrated my travels  on the Yucatan Peninsula, Chiapas, & Oaxaca.  This will be the fifth tour I've led to Oaxaca.  I like traveling with packs of inquisitive and engaged tourists.  I like putting our tourist dollars directly into the hands of local people. I like taking it slow.  I like seeing what happens when people from different parts of the world encounter one another.  When I'm not otherwise obsessed with all things Mexican, I run a floral shop and lifestyle store in Eugene Oregon called Passionflower.  Should you be drawn to travel with us, feel free to contact me at with any questions.
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Friday, December 11, 2015

The Rain God and Other Encounters in Oaxaca

It's been storming up a storm here lately in the Pacific Northwest.
Which makes me think of some of the amazing thunder and lightning storms we've seen down in Oaxaca. Lightning enough to illuminate the ruins of Mt Alban, thunder so loud and rolling, you can't hear the person talking next to you. I love a good storm. Which is one reason I think I like doing a tour to Oaxaca in late September/early October.  We're at the tail end of the rainy season and everything is beautifully lush and green.   We might have a rainshower or two but there's plenty of sunshine as well.  Click here to find out more details of the Sept 2016 tour.

(photo courtesy Lark Lambard from a visit to the Rufino Tamayo Museum)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Getting away from it all

2015  was the year for a little break from organizing tours.  Jill is otherwise engaged and I was in need of  a personal healing retreat.  But I could not stay away from Oaxaca and so off I went to a very remote, very beautiful spot on the Oaxacan coast near Huatulco.  Two weeks of outdoor living, high on a cliff, sound of the waves crashing, tons of birdwatching, lots of drawing, and fantastic locavore eating - coconut water, blue corn tostadas, pigeon peas (some kind of tropical legume), amaranth leaves and passion fruit from the garden.  And then off for a road trip which took me through the cultural richness of the Mixteca Baja and to turtle beaches and star covered waters filled with flying fishes and phosphoresence . Can hardly wait to go back.  And so, my year of research and development at La Costa has left me dreaming of doing the next tour.  Planning for late September 2016.  Stay tuned.

And should you find yourself dreaming of your own tropical getaway, I cannot say enough good things 
Of the amazing place I stayed - Yiiimtii Ecoreserve. Click here to find out more about this amazing place.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Rabbit and the Pig

And one more bunny drawing before we sign off for now....

Easter Time

 Always loved how there's nary a rabbit to be seen in Oaxaca during Easter.  Though, in fairness, the confetti filled eggs are a nod to the bunny.  But, as I've learned, the rabbit is a new world animal. That is to say, it was here before the Spaniards were. In honor of our American Easter,  I found you this lovley little image above of the rabbit as a scribe painted on  a Mayan vase.  He looks a little trickster, don't you think?  And what is that flag tucked in his waistband?

 And here's a piece I saw in Yanhuitlan last visit.  If you look up on the top left you'll see Mr. 10 Rabbit.  It's hard to see here, but the bucked teeth were the unmistakeable rabbit indicator.  I love this image of two, clearly very Spanish nobles, wearing funny hats and sitting on chairs, doing some kind of counting thing with their hands while the stoic 10 Rabbit looks on.

Lord 10 Rabbit sends you Easter Greetings wherever you might find yourself. 

Street Art in San Francisco

 We all know it's a small world out there. And globalization is for real.  Case in point,
Oaxacan artist Yescka, whose store and workshop we always visit when we are in Oaxaca, will be having a show in San Francisco.  Yeska really made his mark during the protests of 2006 and has continued his smart, streetwise commentary on everything ranging from politics, capitalism, colonialism, and contemporary culture.  We are big admirers of his work and curious to see how spending time in the State will influence him.  California peeps, this is your chance to get a taste of Oaxacan street art.

Bunny Drawings come to Life

May 1st, we're having a show of our bunny drawings at Noisette Bakery in Downtown Eugene.
We'll be selling matted prints of our rabbit drawings as a fundraiser for En Via , the microfinance loan group that works in Oaxaca.

Pic is of one of Jill's first bunny drawings that got us started.