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2024 Chiapas Textile Study Tour: Deep into the Maya World
Feb. 20 -28

In this tour you will learn about:

  • Culture, history and identity of cloth
  • Cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation
  • Wool spinning and weaving
  • Clothing design and construction
  • Maya textile designs — iconography and significance
  • Village and individual identity through clothing
  • Social justice, opportunities and women’s issues
  • Market days and mercantile economy
  • Local cuisine, coffee, cacao and chocolate
  • Quality and value
  • We will travel in a comfortable van as we go deep into the Maya world.
  • We enjoy home-cooked meals
  • We meet makers and directly support them
  • We go far and away, off-the-beaten path
  • We explore three towns on their market days
  • We understand the sacred, mysterious rituals of Maya beliefs

Who should attend: 

  •  Anyone who loves cloth, culture, and collaboration
  •  Textile and fashion designers
  •  Weavers, embroiderers and collectors
  •  Photographers and artists who want inspiration
  •  Retailers and wholesalers

What is a study tour:

Our programs are designed as learning experiences, and as such we talk with weavers about how and why they create, what is meaningful to them in their designs, the ancient history of patterning and design, use of color, tradition and innovation, values and cultural continuity, and the social context within which they work. First and foremost, we are educators. Norma worked in top US universities for over 35 years and Eric founded the education department at Oaxaca’s textile museum. Our interest is in creating connection and artisan economic development.

Villages we visit:

  • Tenejapa
  • San Lorenzo Zinacantan
  • San Juan Chamula
  • San Andres Larrainzar 
  • Magdalena Aldama 
  • Chenalho

What is included:

  • 8 nights lodging at a top-rated San Cristobal de las Casas hotel within walking distance to the historic center and pedestrian streets
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 5 lunches
  • 1 Gala Grand Finale Dinner
  • Museum and church entry fees
  • Luxury van transportation
  • Outstanding and complete guide services



Day 1

Tuesday, February 20:

Travel day. Arrive and meet at our hotel in San Cristobal de las Casas. You will receive directions to get from the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport to our hotel. The airport is a clean and modern facility with straightforward signage. You will book your flight to Tuxtla from Mexico City on either Interjet, AeroMar, Volaris or Aeromexico.

Day 2

Wednesday, February 21:

On our first day in San Cristobal de las Casas, we orient you to the textiles of the Maya World. You will learn about weaving and embroidery traditions, patterns and symbols, women and villages, history and culture. After breakfast, we will visit Centro Textiles Mundo Maya museum, Sna Jolobil Museum Shop for fine regional textiles. At Casa Textil we hear about an artisan development project that encompasses several villages.  In early evening, we meet with Sergio Castro, famed humanitarian healer, whose vintage textile collection is an important basis for our orientation to understand the mix of Maya language groups and the location of their villages. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch.

Day 3

Thursday, February 22:

Tenejapa is about an hour and a world away from San Cristobal de Las Casas. Today is market day when villagers line the streets filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and household supplies. Peer into dimly lit doorways to find hidden textile treasures. Then, we will visit an outstanding textile cooperative and then the best pom pom maker in the region. After a box lunch, we go to the centuries- old Romerillo Maya cemetery, then continue on up another mountain to visit Maruch (Maria), a Chamula woman at her rural home. Surrounded by sheep and goats, Maruch will demonstrate back strap loom weaving and wool carding, and how she makes long-haired wool skirts, tunics and shawls. Return to San Cristobal de Las Casas in time for dinner on your own. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch.

Day 4

Friday, February 23:

Today, we make a study tour to the textile villages of San Andres Larrainzer and Magdalena Aldama. This is an ultimate cultural experience to immerse yourself into the weaving culture of two of the best weaving villages in the region. We visit four families of weavers in their humble homes. Their work includes blouses, dresses, bags, and home goods. One family is the last to work with ixtle, the agave fiber used to weave market bags that are often a deep coffee color gotten by hanging the bags over the smoky cooking fire.  We will see how they weave and embroider beautiful, fine textiles, ones you cannot find in the city markets or shops. They will host a show and sale for us, and we will join them around the open hearth for a warming meal of free range chicken soup, house made tortillas, and of course, a sip of posh! Meals included: Breakfast and lunch.

Day 5

Saturday, February 24:

We set out by foot to a nearby textile studio founded by Alberto Lopez Gomez, a Magdalena Aldama weaver and designer, who was invited to New York Fashion Week in 2020 and Sweden Design Week in 2022. We hear presentations about creativity, style, innovation, and how to incorporate tradition while breaking new ground. Then, After breakfast, we set out for Na Bolom, Jaguar House, the home of anthropologist Franz Blom and his photographer wife, Gertrude Duby Blom. The house is now a museum filled with pre-Hispanic folk art and jewelry. We walk the gardens and learn about Franz and Trudy’s work with the Lacandon tribe and their relationship with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Meals included: Breakfast and snack.

Day 6

Sunday, February 25:

This is a big day! First we go to San Lorenzo Zinacantan, where greenhouses cover the hillsides. Here, indigenous dress is embellished in exquisite floral designs, mimicking the flowers they grow. First we meander the open-air market, then visit the church, bedecked in fresh flowers. Next stop is magical, mystical San Juan Chamula where the once-Catholic church is given over to a pre-Hispanic pagan religious practice that involves chickens, eggs and coca-cola. You’ll find out why. We’ll roam Chamula’s abundant textile market, compare and contrast fabrics and designs. (B, L) Dinner on your own. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch.

Day 7

Monday, February 26:

About an hour-and-a-half from San Cristobal de las Casas is the farming and weaving village of Chenalho, situated deep into the mountains with stunning views. This is not a tourist destination! We have found a cooperative there started 41-years ago by cultural anthropologist Christine Eber when she did her PhD dissertation about the culture of weaving and women there. We hear the women’s stories, see demonstrations, and have an opportunity to support them by purchasing what they make if we wish. Then, we return to San Cristobal de las Casas for you to choose your own lunch spot and enjoy the rest of the day on your own. Meals included: Breakfast and snack.

Day 8

Tuesday, February 27:

This is expoventa day! We have invited one of the finest embroiderers of Aguacatenango blouses, an organic coffee grower/roaster, and a pottery artisan to show and sell their work. Afternoon is on your own to do last minute shopping and packing in preparation for your trip home. We end our study tour with a Regret’s Sale (just in case you have any) and a gala group goodbye dinner. (B, D)

Day 9

Wednesday, February 28:

Depart. You will arrange your own transportation from San Cristobal to the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport. The hotel guest services can help. It takes about 1-1/2 hours to get to Tuxtla, plus 1-2 hours for check-in. Connect from Tuxtla to Mexico City and then on to your home country.

Registration for a single room is $4,285

Registration for a shared room is $3,395

The tout does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation as specified in the itinerary. 

Meet the tour leaders

Norma Schafer

Eric Chávez Santiago


Oaxaca Cultural Navigator tours are wonderful! I have been on the Chiapas Textile Study Tour and two one-day tours to weaving villages in the mountains. Each tour has a specific destination, subject, cultural treasure, art, and textile study. The descriptions are accurate; the itineraries are well planned, and the professional and knowledgeable bilingual guides are amazing. I loved the emphasis on the people, culture, and centuries old arts of Mexico. You will go deep as they describe. I have especially loved meeting the people of such a beautiful country. And, I have already signed up for two more tours!
Flora Graham
La Luz, New Mexico
Thank you so very much for all the effort, thought, and time you put into planning such WONDERFUL experiences for your clients! I was not sure I would like one-day tours after having been on your Oaxaca coastal and Chiapas textile tours, which I loved, but the one-day tours were every bit as comprehensive, deep, informative and wonderful as the “long” tours! My friend Anabel was wowed as well; we agree that your tours are the best anywhere. It is hard to return from such an enriching experience in Oaxaca with your group!
Gretchen Corpe Ellinger
Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico
I’ve been on several trips with Norma Schafer and Eric Chavez to Chiapas and Oaxaca. I’ve been so impressed with how they treat the people we interact with. They have taken us into the homes of local families and we’ve engaged with the weavers, learning about their craft and hearing their stories. We’ve met a family who planted mulberry trees and raise silkworms used in weaving beautiful textiles. We have met weavers who make their own natural dyes. Eric comes from a family of master weavers and is very knowledgeable about every step of the weaving process. I loved spending time in the small towns and villages. The itineraries are well planned and you will come away with a feeling of having gotten to know the real Mexico.
Sheryl Williams
Las Cruces, NM
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