11 days Oaxaca - Mexico
Oktober 25 - November 04, 2021
Bookings - Photo Tour Operator: World Geographic Excursions
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 - THE WORLD´S BIGGEST TREE & CATRINAS IN THE CEMPASÚCHIL FLOWER FIELD
We start our photo tour in beautiful Oaxaca with a visit to the biggest tree in the world, the "Tule". The giant cypress has a circumference of 58 m and grows in the village of the same name next to a church from the colonial period. Afterwards the tour leads us further into the south of Oaxaca. In a weaver's village, the women from a Zapotec family will show us how weaving is still done according to old traditions. In the afternoon we will visit a nearby village, which is famous for the cultivation of the flower of the dead, Cempasúchil. In the lush red and orange flower fields we will have the unique opportunity to photograph Mexican women dressed as Catrina in traditional costumes. The well-known Mexican photographer Fernando Cruz, who is renowned for his work with lighting, will accompany us. Under his guidance we have the opportunity to use his equipment, but also 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 we have explored the village some more, we will visit the bakery "Panadería de Pedro Mendoza" in the afternoon. 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 how agaves are harvested by a Mezcal farmer and how agave hearts, which are pre-steamed in an earth oven, are then ground up with the help of a draught horse. 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 - COLORFUL MARKET LIFE
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. After lunch we will enjoy the vibrant hustle and bustle of an indigenous marketplace in the neighbourhood. Here on the so-called "Plaza de Muertos" regional specialities and offerings for the upcoming festivities are offered for sale. It is here that we experience and photograph how the Zapotecs do their shopping for the Día de Muertos.
DAY 6 - OAXACAN POTTERY - 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. First, 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. Afterwards, two families will introduce us to the typical pottery of the village and show us their work especially made for the Day 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
Today, the morning is at one's disposal before the big festivities of the Día de Muertos start at night. In the historical centre we can watch the Oaxacans artistically painting their faces for the Night of the Dead or buy one of the handmade ceramic figures of the famous "Catrina", the woman of the dead. 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. At nightfall we will visit the first cemetery of Oaxaca, where the graves are already decorated with the flower of the dead, Cempasúchil, as well as with food and beverages, which were particular favourites of the deceased family members. People eat and drink together and Mariachis go from grave to grave playing music. From midnight we take part in one of the most traditional festivities of the Día de Muertos in Oaxaca. On the indigenous graves hundreds of waist-high candles are lit, which illuminate the cemetery on the Night of the Dead. Families guard the graves to receive their ancestors from the afterlife on this night. The locals stay in the cemetery until the early hours of the morning and then return home together with their deceased 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 attend the preparations for the famous "China Oaxaqueñas" parade. The dancing group wears one of the famous and splendid traditional costumes of Oaxaca in black and white. We have the opportunity to photograph the dancers while they are artistically made up in the Día de Muertos style. Before the group of Chinas starts their parade, we can take pictures of them again in the courtyard of the colonial building. Now we move towards the centre in order to welcome the group of numerous Chinas on the famous Plaza de la Danza. Here, a unique dance spectacle is shown, which we can experience as the crowning finale of the parade.
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 - OAXACAN HANDICRAFT - DAY OF THE DEAD IN THE VILLAGE OF THE CEMPASÚCHIL
On the last day of our shared photo trip, we venture on towards the south of Oaxaca. First, we visit the impressive blind artist José Antonio, whom we can observe over his shoulder while he works with clay. After the lunch break, we drive to the cemetery of a nearby village. It is famous for the flower Cempasúchil, which can be found everywhere as a decoration during the time of the 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, 2021
PRICE: 3.950 €
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: 750 €
PHOTO TOUR OPERATOR: World Geographic Excursions
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!