This ten-day tour provides a unique opportunity to learn about the meaning and methods of a continuing Maya art form. Beginning with Olmec art at La Venta Park, and the great Maya ruins of Palenque and Tonina, the tour then focuses on the living Maya traditions of the Chiapas Highlands where indigenous culture, unlike other places in the world, is flourishing, with ceremonies and traditional dress that are more elaborate today than they were 30 years ago.
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|The Living Maya Tour|
|Price||$2400 per person (based on double occupant lodging. Add $400 for single lodging supplement.)|
Intensive study of Maya textile symbols will open a window on the myths, customs, and beliefs of the Highland Maya. During daily excursions to weaving villages, you will observe the essentials of the craft: backstrap weaving, natural dyeing, brocading, and embroidery.
Every village possesses distinctive costumes, designs, and colors. With Maya textile expert Walter "Chip" Morris as a guide, you will attend special weaving demonstrations conducted by the greatest weavers in the Highlands. You will also have a chance to witness everyday life as well as rituals and, depending on the time of year, major religious fiestas. In short, you will experience a world normally closed to outsiders.
While magnificent cities like Palenque lie in ruins, Maya culture still thrives in the remote mountain villages of Chiapas. There, the descendants of Maya civilization maintain ancient traditions, most visible in their elaborate costumes. Maya women weave some of the most exquisite handwoven textiles in the Americas. The intricate designs date back, in an unbroken thread, to the Classic Maya period. Textile symbols represent an enduring vision of the Maya cosmos.
In addition to being a center of traditional Maya culture, Chiapas is rich in scenic beauty and colonial architecture. Tour members will have ample time to explore churches and museums in the Spanish colonial town of San Cristòbal de Las Casas. Founded in 1528, San Cristòbal affords numerous sites of historical interest, as well as boutiques, restaurants, galleries, and cybercafes. At an altitude of 7,500 feet, the nights are chilly.
|DAY ONE: Arrival
Arrive at airport in Villahermosa, Tabasco, and check into your hotel.
|DAY TWO: La Venta Park
Learn about Mexico's first civilization, the Olmec, while walking through La Venta Park with MEC Research Associate Carol Karasik. Walking trails provide, a perfect setting for the monumental Olmec sculptures.
|DAY THREE: Palenque
Spend the morning touring the ruins of Palenque, focusing on Maya art, history, and cosmology. Explore the city's magnificent palace, its exquisite temple complex, the Cross Group, and the famed pyramid of Palenque's greatest king, Lord Pakal. See the newest discoveries and visit the on-site museum.
|DAY FOUR: Tonina and San Cristòbal
Drive through panoramic mountains to San Cristòbal, stopping at the tropical waterfalls of Misol Ha and the Classic Maya ruins of Tonina. See the last monument carved during the Classic Maya Period and arrive in San Cristòbal for a lecture on cultural continuity and the renaissance of weaving among the Highland Maya.
|DAY FIVE: Zinacantán
Travel to the Tzotzil Maya village of Chamula and nearby Zinacantán, where weavers are continually exploring dramatic innovations. Visit the church in Chamula, Zinacantán's Esquipulas Chapel, and shop for local textiles. After lunch Chip will lead a brief orientation tour of San Cristóbal so you'll know where the most interesting shops, museums, and restaurants can be found. The afternoon is free to wander.
|DAY SIX: Thursday Market in Tenejapa
Travel to the beautiful Tzeltal Maya village of Tenejapa to see natural dyeing and weaving. Lunch at exemplary weaver, Mar’a Meza Giron's home. Return to San Cristòbal for a tour of Na Bolom, now a museum and cultural center for the Lacandon Maya. Later, at Chip's house, which is right next to Na Bolom, enjoy an informal talk over wine and a sampler of regional food.
|DAY SEVEN: Chinkultik and Comitan
Stop in Comitán for coffee on the plaza, then travel on to the Maya ruins of Chinkultik. Surrounded by lagoons, the site boasts remarkable stelae. Lunch at Santa María, a beautifully preserved hacienda with a jewel of a museum displaying colonial art. Return to Comitán to visit the local museum and spend the night.
|DAY EIGHT: Amatenango and Teopisca
Visit Amatenango where women weave unique costumes and produce exceptional hand-built, pit-fired pottery. Then drive to the nearby village of Aguacatenango to see beautifully embroidered blouses. Lunch in Teopisca, which is renowned for its tamales, pickled vegetables, and cured meats. Free time in the afternoon in San Cristóbal.
|DAY NINE: San Andrès Sunday Market
Visit the remote villages of San Andrès and Magdalenas, renowned for their spectacular wool brocade work. See the making of fine net bags in Magdalenas, visit the homes of weavers, and take in the market. Back in San Cristòbal, take the afternoon off and then attend a final evening dinner with Chip and Carol.
|DAY TEN: Pichucalco
After a casual breakfast and a last look around town, depart for Villahermosa, this time traveling via the scenic Pichucalco road through mountains and pristine cloud forests. Stay in Villahermosa for the evening to be ready for early flights out the next morning.
|DAY ELEVEN: Departure
Early flights out.
- Breakfasts & lunches
- Final dinner in San Cristobal
- Ground transportation
- Entrance fees
- Tour information packet
- Airfare to and from Villahermosa
- Travel insurance
Proceeds from MEC Tours are the center's primary source of research funding. As such, a portion of the tour costs are tax deductible. MEC will provide participants with receipts and proper documentation regarding the center's 501(c)(3) non-profit status for your records.