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Introduction to the Tours
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Survivor's Testimonials
The Staff of Traditions Mexico
About Traditions Mexico
A Primer on Mexican Bus Travel
Chiapas Tours
Cultura Maya
Day of the Dead
among the Maya
Festival Maya
Oaxaca Tours
Murex, Silk,
and Threaded Flowers
Day of the Dead Oaxaca:
The Return of the Souls
Dia de los Muertos
Celebrations in the
3 Valleys of Oaxaca
Profound Oaxaca: Textiles
Pottery and Living Arts
Fiber Arts
of the Oaxacan Coast
Food and Festival
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Survivor's Testimonials

A Mexican potter in Oaxaca works an applique onto an earthenware platter. Traditions Mexico tours. "It is as if he had not only dug up some 4,ooo year old pottery but by some magic also the very potters themselves still making their pots in the same old ways, using nothing but their bare hands with bits of gourd or corn cobs and stone..."

Dick Williams - Workshop participant

Dale F.
Journey Participant

How I would love to go again. Those were the best trips I have ever taken.

Ellie L.
Journey Participant

I think Traditions Mexico is one of the best travel values around and has the most interesting itineraries based on sharing "inside information" vs. tourist trap stuff of any company I have traveled with.  I think the prices are extremely fair and the full price is returned in full plus more.  You guys do a great job thinking up trips and then leading them.

Dale Fairbanks
Journey Participant

Hola! It has been only a week since I arrived home and it seems way to long to be away from the beautiful state of Oaxaca. Muchas Gracias for one of the best trips I have had the opportunity to take. Each moment was special. The best I feel was the opportunity to touch base with the indigenous people, their way of life and their hopes. Still wish I had purchased that rug - and so much more. Can't wait to go again. Love and best wishes to you all.

Elaine (Toronto)
Journey Participant - Fiber Arts of Ancient Oaxaca

Perhaps one of the most memorable and exciting trips of my lifetime. Arranged and led by Eric Mindling of Oaxaca, the trip took us to small mountain villages to view and experiment with weaving,spinning, dyeing, basket-weaving, and mask carving, to an experimental cochineal farm and to a seaside cliff which is the abode of a snail used for dyeing fiber.

The above is from Elaine's detailed description of her experience in A Weavers Tour of Oaxaca, which you will find together with beautiful photographs from the fiber arts journey at her Web site, "A Weaver's Tour of Oaxaca".

Robert LaCour Greenberg (age 52) San Rafael, CA

It's been about a year now since our trip to San Marcos, and we're still showing our pictures and our pots and inflicting our enthusiasm about the whole experience on those who will listen.

I am not now nor have I ever been a potter (except for that one week). My wife is the potter in the family. A friend found Eric's web site, and together they planned the trip. I was just along for the ride. At first, I thought I would do something else while they attended the workshop, but there was a spot available, and it sounded like an adventure, so...

The San Marcos workshop turned out to be the best part of the best vacation I've ever taken. Even though I spoke no Spanish (or Zapotec), it is the most connected to a (very) foreign culture that I've ever felt. This is no effete arts project. We really were allowed to briefly participate in a centuries (millennia?) old craft with the deepest of cultural roots. What a privilege! Our hosts and teachers were gracious and highly skilled, They had at least as much fun with us as we did with them. I sensed nothing exploitive in the relationship, and though it may take some adjustment of perspective for some from the north, life for the potters of San Marcos appeared full and happy, though more basic and primitive than what we are used to. A fear of dirt may be a problem for some, though it was easy to clean up, and we were never sick during the workshop, even after the rock licking part of the procedure. The meal, hot chocolate tortillas, and popsicles we were fed by the women of San Marcos were great.

The Tourist Yu'u in Santa Anna del Valle was very clean and well maintained and located in a beautiful spot. Privacy may be an issue for some. The meals provided here were tasty and nutritious, highlights including a terrific estufada and always fantastic local fruit and yogurt for breakfast. Restaurant choices were mostly excellent, highlighting local cuisine. The side trips were fun and informative. Eric's close relationship with the people once again connected us more than any tourist experience I'd had previously. We were able to go on a nice hike or two. There was some flexibility here.

At Casa Arnel in Oaxaca City, we upgraded our accommodations for approximately $10/night , and were glad we did. It is a bustling, friendly place, in an interesting and rustic neighborhood, but it ain't the Ritz. Breakfast at the big communal table was fun, and the whistling and talking birds do quiet down when their cages are covered at night.

Suzanne Storer
CLAYART Newsgroup

Hola Clay people, I would like to encourage you to consider attending Eric Mindling's pottery workshops in and around Oaxaca, Mexico. I attended the San Marcos workshop last year and this is an amazing opportunity NOT TO BE MISSED. Eric tells me he still has openings for the hands-on San Marcos workshop. (No, I've no affiliation other than as a professional studio potter and attendee).

In his previous posts promoting his workshops, Eric has presented what I found to be an accurate account of his workshops and life around Oaxaca. The all important FOOD prepared by his personal cook was outstanding, the Mateo sisters and their Mama were a joy to be around and work with, I fulfilled my personal desire of getting an intimate glimpse of what it may have been like were I to have been born into a family of potters instead of scientists, my own work has grown as a result and, most importantly, I have a real appreciation for the character of the people I met in southern Mexico who are rich in family and friends and materially poor. As a result I realized that there is much to learned in my own backyard from the large hispanic community here in Ogden, Utah and I've been motivated to become involved through art when the opportunity presents itself.

Boy, this has turned into a real testimonial!!! Anyway, it was so cool to be out digging clay the Zapotec way within 24 hours of my arrival in Oaxaca! I've not been keeping up with Clayart lately so if anyone wants to reply to me please do so privately.
Cheers, Suzanne

From: Steffenie@(isp).com
Subject: ¡Hola Y Gracias!
To: traditionsmexico@yahoo.com

Hola, Eric y Carlos-

I have been struggling for a week now to sort out my feelings and reactions to the trip and to come up with suitable words to say thank you. As soon as I stepped off the plane at home, I felt that this place was the dream and that I had left the reality behind me in Oaxaca. After about a day or two, I was somewhat better adjusted, but even now, I feel restless and my thoughts are dominated by memories of the trip and the people.

I cannot remember being so deeply affected by any other similar experience in my life. When I first learned of your trip and started to toy with the idea of participating, it seemed so wild that just the thought sort of took my breath away. And then, when I had committed myself, I was terribly excited, and I was sure the trip would be a very special once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. But the reality was even more than that, and I was totally unprepared for the impact. If I live a 100 lifetimes, I will never experience that wonderful trip again, and I will never forget it. It was if everything I saw and did was more in ways I hadn't imagined. I expected to have a wonderful time, but I didn't expect to fall in love, totally and completely, with Oaxaca and its people.

I think that the aspect of the trip that meant the most to me was the people we met. I mean, the people in our group were wonderful, but the weavers and dyers and others that we visited with were truly special for me. They were all so very kind and cheerful and helpful, and I can't even speak their language!

The next best thing was just getting to see these people at their crafts - the weaving and dyeing and spinning and carving and basketry. I learned so much and enjoyed every minute of it. I love all the beautiful things that I brought back and which are now part of my life. I am thrilled every time I look at my rugs and the beautiful striped na'hua and my caracol huipil and everything else.

My feelings for the land of Oaxaca itself surprised me. At first it seemed to be too much the same - same colors, same plants, same landforms. And then, I think as I became more affected by the people and everything around me, I started to really see the land and its beauties.

On our last day driving home to Oaxaca city, as we came down out of the Sierra, I woke up from a doze to the music that you had tuned in on the radio, Eric. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and outside the window the very typical Oaxacan scenery of hills and villages was going by, and that lovely music was playing. That last hour seemed the perfect ending to a perfect experience. I thought back to all the wonderful people we had met and the places you took us that I would never see again, and I realized how much I would miss it all.

Thank you, Eric, for all the hundreds of things you had to do to plan this trip and pull it together and then make it a wonderful success. You are very good at what you do.

Thank you, Carlos, for all your kind assistance and for answering my hundreds of questions. Looking back, I'm afraid that at times I was like an annoying child with all my requests for translations and tree identifications, etc., but you never showed irritation. You, also, are very good with people, and your patience seems unlimited.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will return to Oaxaca… Thank you both, and hasta la vista, I hope.


Dick Williams
CLAYART Newsgroup

After conquering all of Mexico Hernando Cortez decided in 1540 to build his palace in Oaxaca. If you go you will also want to build your own castle in this "Jewel in the Crown" of Mexico. Eric Mindling must have been conquered by the mystique of this place eight years ago when he first stumbled into the valley with its ideal climate and friendly people. This lanky Yankee with the sombrero has become an amigo of all the potters in the little villages tucked away in the mountains surrounding the city of Oaxaca. It is as if he had not only dug up some 4,ooo year old pottery but by some magic also the very potters themselves still making their pots in the same old ways, using nothing but their bare hands with bits of gourd or corn cobs and stone to create them out of clay, water and fire. It really is mind-boggling to see real flesh and blood people making these museum pieces.

After reading a few of Eric's emails on the CLAYART newsgroup, I flew down this January to attend his second workshop and became one of his alumni and survivors. I had had some exciting moments trying to make the john in time when I came down with Montezuma's revenge on my first trip to Mexico fifty years ago but I was really surprised under Eric's direction I had not one queasy moment. It is a matter of not drinking anything but bottled water and eating any fruits or vegetables that are not cooked or pealed.

It was a workshop that I shall never forget. I was the only man in a group of six women and enjoyed every minute of it. For two nights we were wined and dined in Oaxaca, a magnificent city filled with colonial buildings, cathedrals, fascinating shops and museums. The people were very friendly and even understood my schoolboy Spanish.

Then for four days we lived in the tiny village of San Marco in a nice clean and well equipped hostel. Our food was provided by Eric's assistant, a charming young lady who prepared such delicious and healthy food that we stayed happy and well. Our teachers were three Indian ladies, Dorotha, Alberta and Macrina who are well known for their fine pottery. We dug the clay, purified it and combined it with the right amount of sand as grog. When it well kneaded we were taught how to shape the clay into pots without a wheel using only pieces of gourds and corn cobs. After burnishing and drying, the climax of the workshop was the firing in an open fire protected only with shards. After an hour wooden poles were used to pull the pots out of the embers and what pots they were!

We also traveled in Eric's van through wild mountain roads to other pottery villages, San Bartolo Coyotepec and Santa Maria Atzompa where very different types of pottery were produced.

Although the conditions in the small village of San Marco were a bit primitive and the pace was tiring for an old man I never had any stomach problems and enjoyed every moment of the whole workshop except maybe digging the clay, but I let the women do most of that. Maybe it was because potters as a group are the easiest people to get along with and Eric our noble leader is the type of person you immediately feel you have known all your life.

I am a retired chemist fast approaching 80 and a member of the Orange Street Pottery in Wilmington NC ( home of Bertha, Fran and Bonnie).We have well known potters such as Hiroshi Sueyoshi and Diana Wilde-Ramsing to help us with our problems when the going gets tough. I would be more than happy to answer any questions about Eric's workshop that I attended in Mexico.

Dick Williams

Ed Gould
CLAYART Newsgroup

Eric makes these trips so rich with fun and exciting experiences. You will feel safe and well fed. My experience and that of so many others comes down to so much fun, beautiful pots, gorgeous landscapes, guests of native Mexicans who are rich with knowledge, passion and artistic competence. Eric has known the people of each village for more than 7 years; thus, you will feel quite welcome. To see a pot that would take me a day or two, built in less than 10 minutes was just mind boggling. The potters laugh and converse while they move from one pot to the next. The ancient ruins of past civilizations are nearby. Oh yes, and the city of Oaxaca is so splendid with museums, art galleries, fine and very inexpensive food. I was dazzled by the extraordinary library of more than 25,000 books on art in many languages......I stayed an extra week after the field trip. Walking distance from your hotel is this incredible collection of books; just walk in and take anything off the shelf and enjoy yourself in one of several well-ventilated rooms. Shelves of books on natural history art, art of Rome, art of Mexico, art of Spain and on and on. The contrast of contemporary Mexico with ancient ruins and potters making pots as was done hundreds or thousands of years ago is remarkable.

Ed Gould (edgould@erols.com)

Ed Gould
CLAYART Newsgroup

From the east coast I want to fully confirm Pam Easley's enthusiastic description of Eric Mindlings outstanding tour of Oaxacan pottery...skills that have been around for 2000 years. A large pot, beautifully and symmetrically produced in less than 15 minutes by an artisan who has been doing it for 20-40+ years is truly a sight to behold. The planning and execution of the trip were extraordinary. Everything went off without a hitch due to Eric's outstanding skill with tours and his warm rapport with the people in remote villages - people he has come to know over the past 7 years. Eric is a bottomless resource of fascinating information about ceramics and the people who produce it. Ana Moreno, his Mexican assistant, filled in the spaces with her rich and personal knowledge of archaeology and Mexico. The food was OUTSTANDING prepared by Eric, Ana and some of our hosts at villages. At least in eastern USA I will never eat at another Mexican American restaurant. I was also impressed with how well health and comfort issues were handled.

Some other perks for me:

I enjoyed the diversity and knowledge of our group...Dutch, French, Mexican, Seattle, Nevada. I felt nourished by the opportunity to meet so many other artists at our hotel and in restaurants...artists who have come to Oaxaca for years for inspiration. I certainly feel renewed and inspired to dive in to my clay and try some things I learned on the trip.

After the tour I wallowed in the magnificent art library that Ana tuned me into...25,000 volumes on art of the world, wonderfully organized and accessible at the Instituto de Artes Graficas de Oaxaca. SIGN UP FOR ERIC'S NEXT TRIP FOR A WONDERFUL LIFETIME INSPIRATION

Ed Gould (edgould@erols.com)

Pam Easley
CLAYART Newsgroup

With all the input about the various workshops you've all been doing lately, I had to put my 2 bits worth in about Eric Mindling's recent tour of several pottery centers in and around Oaxaca, Mexico.

It was a fabulous experience!! If any of you have a yen to see some fantastic scenery, see how pottery was, and is, made by Zapotec and Mixe people in the tiny villages surrounding Oaxaca, and just generally have an indescribable experience, TAKE ONE OF THESE TOURS.

There were five of us, plus two leaders, Eric and Ana. We saw the serenity of the indigenous people we visited, and were more than amazed at the pottery they produced. Coil built pots will have a whole new meaning for you, believe me. These potters defy any and all "rules" we think we need, and come up with exquisite pieces. The cooking vessels we saw fired for about an hour in a bon-fire kiln really are cooking safe on a regular 20th century gas stove -- I've tried it!

The week long village tour only made us all salivate to come back and take part in the hands-on workshop next year. So crank up those wheels and hand building schedules, folks, and make a place in your budget for Eric's workshop or village tour -- or take them both, back to back. And be prepared to buy some of the work you see built along the way. Eric can have everything packed and ready for hauling on the plane in a great big basket. No extra baggage fees, either, if it's your 2nd piece checked.

The next time you see Eric post a notice of one of his adventures, answer immediately. It was beyond description -- we all loved it!!
Pam, in windy, wet Seattle (but tan from that high mountain Oaxaca sun)

Wall patterns in the Mexican city of Oaxaca. Traditions Mexico tours.
Wall patterns in Oaxaca City
Photograph by Curt Rosengren

Curt Rosengren
CLAYART Newsgroup

No doubt everybody here is familiar with Eric Mindling and his upcoming pottery workshops in Oaxaca. I have nothing to do with Eric or his workshops, but I'd like to give them an unsolicited plug.

More accurately, I would like to plug the people who will be teaching it, and the opportunity to experience life in a Zapotec village from the inside.

Since I've not actually participated in any of them, I can't plug the workshops themselves. I have, however, spent time in San Marcos Tlapazola, the tiny Zapotec village where the workshops will take place. I am also lucky enough to call the wonderful women who will be teaching the class my friends. The opportunity to spend time with them and experience Zapotec life firsthand is well worth it.

Wall patterns in the Mexican city of Oaxaca. Traditions Mexico tours.
Wall Art in Oaxaca
Photograph by Curt Rosengren

I first came in contact with Eric when I was researching my first Oaxaca trip in February of '98. For several years, he has bought pottery from artisans in various villages around Oaxaca for export to the US, so he is intimately familiar with the indigenous population in the area. In an e-mail, he suggested that I visit San Marcos Tlapazola if I wanted a great taste of authentic Oaxaca beyond where the tour buses ever go.

I took his advice, and spent time in San Marcos on two successive trips. On my first visit, I had the good fortune to meet Alberta and Macrina, the women who had taught last year's workshops (and will teach this years again), and quickly became enamoured with them and their family. They were a big part of what drew me back to Oaxaca a second time just a few months later.

Potters of San Marcos, Oaxaca, Mexico. Traditions Mexico Tours
Potters of San Marcos
Photograph by Curt Rosengren

Whether potting is your passion, or you are simply interested in gaining an extraordinary cultural perspective, this is an incredible chance to immerse yourself in a completely different world.

If you do decide to go, give them my warmest regards. They were warm, funny, generous, and made me feel extraordinarily welcome. I miss them.

If you would like to see some pictures of San Marcos Tlapazola, go to my web site.

Curt rosengren




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