11 days Oaxaca - Mexico
October 25 - November 04, 2023
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 – "PAN DE MUERTO" BAKING – OAXACAN FESTIVAL
Today will be spent in a southern village of Oaxaca, which is famous for its colorfully decorated "Pan de Muerto", the bread of the dead. First, we visit the "Fería del Pan de Muerto", a market where different offerings for the upcoming festivities are offered. Besides the "Pan de Muerto", this includes sugar skulls, mole, chocolate and other regional specialties. After admiring the Mexican murals for the Day of the Dead in the "Calle de Murales", we visit the workshop "Taller del Penacho" - the last place in Mexico where the traditional headdress for the famous dance "Danza de la Pluma" is made. In the afternoon Pedro Mendoza will be waiting for us in his own "Panadería". Pedro will demonstrate the special art of baking the "Pan de Muerto". The bread, decorated with colorful flowers, is still baked in their in-house stone oven. In the early evening we will attend a procession where the locals dressed in different costumes dance through the village, balancing on stilts and lighting fireworks at nightfall.
DAY 4 – 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 5 – IN THE VILLAGE OF THE WEAVERS – CEMPASÚCHIL HOUSES – COLORFUL NIGHTLIFE
This morning we will explore a Zapotec village famous for its elaborate and artistic production of carpets. Here we will take pictures of a local weaver's family, who will show us their centuries old handicraft. Afterwards, we will visit a traditional manufactory, where extraordinary candles are handmade exclusively in preparation for the Day of the Dead. In the afternoon we will visit a colonial neighborhood in Oaxaca, where the house facades are decorated by their inhabitants with great attention to detail in the style of Día de Muertos. In the so-called competition "Concurso de decoración de fachadas" the house owners can win high cash prizes for the most beautiful decorations. After admiring and photographing the elaborate facades of the houses, we accompany a procession of the children of Oaxaca for the Day of the Dead. Colorfully dressed up, they parade through what is probably the most beautiful quarter of the city. In the evening we visit the center of Oaxaca, where the festivities are already approaching the climax. The Mexicans pose in elaborate Catrina costumes, play music and dance through the streets - the opportunity for nightly street photography "par exellence".
DAY 6 – FERIA DE PAN DE MUERTOS – COMPETITION OF THE CATRINAS
Early in the morning we will go on an excursion to a nearby indigenous village where pottery is a traditional craft. Here we explore the colorful market life of the local "Feria de Chocolate y Pan de Muerto", where chocolate, the bread of the dead and other offerings for the coming days are traded. In the afternoon, there is an opportunity to explore the center of Oaxaca on your own. In the famous "Andador Túristico" you can observe how Mexicans artfully paint their faces in the style of Día de Muertos or buy one of the handmade ceramic figures of the famous "Catrina", the woman of the dead. In the evening, we will attend a very special event, the competition of the Catrinas. Over the course of several weeks, the participants create breath-taking and extremely detailed costumes to showcase them to the public on this evening.
DAY 7 – TRADITIONAL ALTAR – OCTOBER 31 – THE NIGHT OF THE DEAD
Before the big Día de Muertos festivities begin tonight, in the morning there will be the opportunity to participate in an image editing workshop using Lightroom and Photoshop. Later in the day 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 8 – 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. The dancing group wears one of the famous and splendid traditional costumes of Oaxaca in black and white. We will be there early so we will have the opportunity to take portraits of the dancers made up as Catrina before their grand presentation. Following this unique spectacle, the Chinas Oaxaqueñas will parade through the streets of Oaxaca dancing and playing music until late at night.
DAY 9 – NOVEMBER 2 – DÍA DE MUERTOS – ZAPOTEC ALTARS – PANTEÓN AT NIGHT
Today we return to the 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 10 – NOVEMBER 3 – DAY OF THE DEAD IN THE VILLAGE OF THE CEMPASÚCHIL
After the eventful last days, there is once again the opportunity in the morning to get hold of the last Día de Muertos souvenirs or simply to sleep in and have breakfast. 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 11 – 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 25 - November 04, 2023
PRICE: $5.250 USD
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: $875 USD
MINIMUM DEPOSIT: $750 USD
PHOTO TOUR OPERATOR: Luminous Journeys
NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: 4 person minimum, 10 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!