10 days Oaxaca - Mexico
October 26 - November 04, 2024
Bookings - Photo Tour Operator: Luminous Journeys
The tradition of the Día de Muertos - the Day of the Dead - is not a period of mourning for Mexicans, but rather an occasion to welcome and celebrate their deceased relatives once again as part of the family. This unique festival can be experienced in Oaxaca starting with the preparations throughout the Night of the Dead, on October 31st, to the end of the celebrations on November 3rd.
In the pre-Hispanic period, family members were still part of the community after their death and returned to earth temporarily during the Día de Muertos. Today's festivities are also about showing love and respect to the deceased family members and welcoming them back to earth after their journey to the afterlife.
During the festive season, the heart is an altar, which is set up in the families' homes, but also in cemeteries and public places. It is decorated with offerings, such as the bread of the dead "Pan de Muerto", sugar skulls, as well as drinks and food with which the deceased can regain their strength after the long journey from the afterlife. The orange-colored calendula Cempasúchil, which is an important symbol of the Day of the Dead, should not be missing. It is offered for sale at the colorful Oaxacan markets together with many other products specially made for the upcoming holiday.
It is with love that the graves of deceased relatives are decorated with offerings to receive them in the Night of the Dead. Celebrations take place around the clock and there are numerous parades through the city, with Mexicans painting their faces artistically and dressing up in the style of the Día de Muertos. The famous skeleton lady La Catrina is also symbolic of the Day of the Dead. She embodies death as a phenomenon that everyone will face at some point. During our photo trip we will meet many Catrina women with detailed and elaborate make-up on the streets and in the cemeteries of Oaxaca.
This photo trip lets you immerse yourself in one of the oldest traditions of Mexico!
DAY 1 – BIENVENIDOS A OAXACA!
After our individual arrivals by plane or bus from Mexico City in Oaxaca de Juárez, we will meet at 4:00 pm for the presentation of the photo tour Día de Muertos. Together, we can begin to get excited for our upcoming photo adventure in one of the most traditional and culturally rich regions of Mexico. At the welcome dinner we will savour regional specialities in a typical Oaxacan restaurant.
DAY 2 – HANDS THAT CAN SEE – CATRINAS IN THE CEMPASÚCHIL FLOWER FIELD
We start our photo tour in beautiful Oaxaca with a trip to the south of the state, where we visit the workshop "Manos que ven" - translated "Hands that see" - of the blind artist José Antonio. He is known beyond the borders of Mexico for his artfully created life-size Zapotec women and mermaids made of clay. It is a unique and impressive experience to observe over his shoulder while he works with clay. José Antonio's home village is also famous for the cultivation of the orange flower of the dead „Cempasúchil“. Therefore, in the afternoon we meet for the first time the well-known Mexican photographer Fernando Cruz to photograph together with him in the lush red and orange flower fields Mexican Catrina women in traditional costumes. Fernando is renowned for his work with lighting and under his guidance we will create expressive portraits with flashlights. However, there will also be the opportunity to shoot photos with natural light.
DAY 3 – TRADITION OF MEZCAL – CATRINAS ON THE PANTEÓN
In the morning, we then make our way to a distillery where Mezcal, the national drink of Oaxaca, is still brewed according to old traditions. Once again, we will be accompanied throughout the day by photographer Fernando with his professional lighting equipment. Our cameras will document with how an agave that has matured for over a decade is harvested by a mezcal farmer, the "Jimador". In the in-house "Tienda" we can marvel at the different Mezcal varieties, their tastes having been refined with various flavours, including hemp, scorpions and Gusano worms. After a break we will head off in the late afternoon for a photoshoot at a cemetery, the so-called "Panteón". Once again, we will be accompanied by artistically painted Catrinas and Oaxacan women in their indigenous costumes. As night descends, we will take photos in the illumination of candlelight.
DAY 4 – DÍA DE MUERTOS CANDLES - TRADITIONAL OAXAQUENIAN CUISINE - "PAN DE MUERTO" BAKING
Today we will visit three different Zapotec villages. Our first stop is a traditional manufactory where the artist Viviana handcrafts extraordinary candles for the Day of the Dead. After a presentation of her impressive work, we continue our journey to the next village. Here we meet the master chef Delia. She will prepare various dishes for us in traditional Zapotec style. With our cameras, we can capture the production of fresh cocoa, tortillas and other specialties before we enjoy the freshly prepared delicacies with her togehter. In the afternoon, Sonia awaits us in her own Zapotec "panadería". Here she will demonstrate the special art of baking "Pan de Muerto". The breads are still baked in their own stone oven according to old tradition before being decorated with Zapotec ornaments. That evening, the comparsas - the festive parades of the Mexican Day of the Dead - begin. The streets of the historic center of Oaxaca therefore offer opportunities for nightly street photography "par exellence".
DAY 5 – FERIA PLAZA DE MUERTOS – CEMPASÚCHIL HOUSES – PARADE OF THE CATRINAS
Early in the morning we will go on an excursion to a nearby indigenous village to visit the "Plaza de Muertos", one of the most colorful markets in Oaxaca. Here we explore the market life of the indigenous Zapotecs, where chocolate, bread of the dead, Cempasúchil flowers and other offerings for the coming days are traded. In the afternoon you will have some free time. However, it is a good idea to visit the two nearby colonial districts of Jalatlaco and Xochimilco. The facades of the houses here are decorated by their inhabitants with great attention to detail in the style of Día de Muertos. In the so-called "Concurso de decoración de fachadas" competition, house owners can win high cash prizes for the most beautiful decorations. In the evening, we attend a very special event, the Comparsa de Catrinas. The participants in this unique Oaxacan parade create breathtaking and extremely detailed costumes over several weeks to present them on this evening
DAY 6 – DÍA DE MUERTOS CHILDREN PARADES – TRADITIONAL ALTAR – OCTOBER 31 – THE NIGHT OF THE DEAD
Before the big Día de Muertos festivities begin tonight, several Día de Muertos children's parades start in the morning from the Templo Santo Domingo church. After this colorful spectacle, we will have the special opportunity to visit an Oaxacan family in their home to photograph them in traditional costumes in front of their altar. Then, starting at nightfall, we will become part of Oaxaca's most traditional celebrations at an indigenous cemetery. The graves are already decorated with the dead flower Cempasúchil as well as with food and drinks to receive the deceased family members from the afterlife tonight. People eat together, drink together, and mariachis parade through the night playing music. On the indigenous graves, hundreds of waist-high candles are lit, illuminating the cemetery on the Night of the Dead. The locals stay in the cemetery until the early hours of the morning, then return home with their former family members.
DAY 7 – NOVEMBER 1 – CEREMONIAL PROCESSION OF THE CHINAS OAXAQUENAS
After a long and eventful night, we allow ourselves this morning to sleep in and relax before we continue our photo adventure on the Day of the Dead. We will have the possibility to stroll through the colonial centre of Oaxaca until the afternoon and to purchase an item or two from local artisans. In the late afternoon we will set off to to capture with our camera the annually celebrated dance spectacle of the "Chinas Oaxaqueñas" for the Day of the Dead. Before the show starts, the Chinas Oaxaqueñas parade through the streets of Oaxaca, dancing and making music. We accompany the dancing group to the famous Plaza de la Danza. As a highlight of the show, the Chinas will burn fireworks on their heads as they dance across the plaza, wearing one of the most famous and splendid traditional costumes of Oaxaca only in black and white.
DAY 8 – NOVEMBER 2 – DÍA DE MUERTOS – ZAPOTEC ALTARS – PANTEÓN AT NIGHT
Today we drive to a Zapotec weaving village to visit the elders of the indigenous community in their home. The deceased are not received here until 3:00 pm on the 2nd November, the Day of the Dead. The altars of the village community have been prepared according to old Zapotec tradition, providing us with unique photo opportunities in this special atmosphere with the village elders. After this exciting gathering, we will finally visit the local cemetery, which is already decorated with flowers and offerings. Later in the evening we will attend the festivities at an extraordinary cemetery in northern Oaxaca. The decorations of the graves are elaborately handmade over several days. Portraits of the ancestors, Catrinas and other motifs are created from flower heads and fine colored powder. At the graves the Mexicans eat, drink and make music and we will surely be invited for a Mezcal by one of the hospitable families.
DAY 9 – NOVEMBER 3 – DAY OF THE DEAD IN THE VILLAGE OF THE CEMPASÚCHIL
After the eventful last days, there is the opportunity in the morning to take part in an image editing workshop with Lightroom and Photoshop or to pick up some last Día de Muertos souvenirs in the markets of Oaxaca. At noon we make our way to the village of the dead flower Cempasúchil, which can be found everywhere as a decoration during the time of Día de Muertos. Since the inhabitants are busy selling the flowers until the Day of the Dead, they celebrate their own Día de Muertos on November 3rd. The graves of their ancestors stand out with very special artistic flower decorations. From morning until late afternoon, the families decorate the tombs together, as the three most beautiful works of art are then crowned with a prize. After our return to Oaxaca we will have our farewell dinner together, where we will toast once again with a Mezcal to the wonderful experiences of these very special festivities.
DAY 10 – HASTA LUEGO OAXACA!
Hasta luego! Our adventurous photo tour during the Día de Muertos ends today and it is time to say goodbye. With a new unique photo portfolio you can travel back individually to Mexico City or do the same as many others and spend a few more days in the beautiful state of Oaxaca.
Photography- & Tour guide
NEXT TOUR DATES:
October 26 - November 04, 2024
PRICE: $5.250 USD
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: $900 USD
MINIMUM DEPOSIT: $750 USD
PHOTO TOUR OPERATOR: Luminous Journeys
NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: 4 person minimum, 8 person maximum
TYPE OF HOTEL: Comfortable hotel of a high standard
LOCATIONS: Oaxaca & Surroundings
FLIGHT TO MEXICO & JOURNEY TO OAXACA:
Book your outbound & inbound flight to and from Mexico City.
There are two possibilities to travel to Oaxaca de Juárez afterwards:
Do you fancy sharing this experience with me?
Then I look forward to having you come along!