TRADITIONS OF GUATEMALA
Last offered: Wednesday, March 27 – Monday, April 8, 2019

Guatemala is rich in culture, blending its ancient Mayan roots with the influences of its Spanish conquerors. The result is a tapestry of tradition, rooted in place through generations of artisans, with skills passed from mother to daughter and father to son. The stunning mountainous terrain has meant that even nearby villages were hard to reach, so towns have evolved their own unique customs and patterns, exhibited in the vibrant clothing worn by the women.

Join us as we explore Guatemala’s fascinating Mayan roots, and visit a number of non-profits working with women and girls in Mayan communities. We’ll learn about their services, meet local recipients, and take part in some of their activities. We’ll also spend time in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Antigua, with its cobblestone streets and colonial charm. Here we’ll tap into the more-recent Christian outpouring of creativity and devotion that surrounds Semana Santa (Holy Week), in the season leading up to Easter. We’ll watch huge, colorful “carpets” of sawdust and flowers be assembled in the streets to pave the way for monumental processions of floats and life-size statues depicting the death and resurrection of Christ. Emotionally moving and visually stunning, this is a bucket-list experience.

Other trip highlights include:

  • Three days visiting Limitless Horizons Ixil, a remarkable nonprofit in the small town of Chajul, meeting their sponsored girl students and taking part in the life of a rural village

  • A day with the nonprofit Starfish, visiting their innovative school and having lunch with the inspiring girls who are students there

  • Four days on beautiful, volcano-ringed Lake Atitlan, visiting some of the small, quaint towns that dot its shores

  • Demonstrations by master weavers, and a chance to try weaving on a backstrap loom for yourself

  • A visit to Chichicastenango, which hosts the largest indigenous artisan market in the country

Optional post-trip available to the Mayan ruins of Tikal.
Contact Patricia for more information.


THE ESSENCE OF SCOTLAND
Last offered: Saturday, May 19 – Friday, June 1, 2018

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Scotland is a magical land of castles, vast open moors and stunning mountain scenery. Its kaleidoscopic past is steeped in mystery, fairy tales and dark drama, all still deeply alive within the souls of everyday Scots.

Join us as we discover the essence of this enchanting country, from ancient monuments to a cutting-edge social venture. We’ll walk the cobblestone streets of the Royal Mile in old-town Edinburgh, relax on the sacred Hebridean island of Iona -- known as the jewel of Scotland – and stay two nights in a beautiful 16th-century stone castle. We’ll conclude our visit at The Findhorn Foundation, a thriving ecovillage and holistic learning center, where we'll experience the heart and soul of this unique place, learning about its philosophy and taking part in daily life.

Other trip highlights include:

  • Exploring mysterious stone circles and carved standing stones, some dating back 4000 years

  • Watching traditional Highland Games, with pipers, Highland dancers, and age-old competitions such as the caber toss and hammer throw.

  • Taking a ride on the Jacobite steam train -- called “the greatest railway journey in the world” -- which takes us along beautiful villages, deep lochs, and silvery beaches on the way to the glorious isle of Skye.

  • Cruising the beautiful Loch Ness, home of the legendary Loch Ness monster

And of course no tour of Scotland would be complete without a visit to a distillery of the “waters of life” – single-malt Scotch!

Along the way, we’ll poke our heads into village pubs for some traditional Scottish music and perhaps a wee dram.  We’ll meet the locals, some of whose families have been in Scotland for generations, and hear stories told in their melodious Scottish brogue. You’ll leave with a rich understanding of this captivating country that holds both deep historical roots and a progressive eye to the future.


OAXACA, MEXICO: 
Celebrating Women's Culture and Day of the Dead
Last journey: October 25 – November 2, 2017
Returning again October 2019!

Join us for a unique journey into a world of artisans, village chefs, and Mexico's biggest celebration, which, ironically, is a party for the dead! 

Our trip takes us from the 500-year-old colonial city of Oaxaca to 3,000-year-old Zapotec villages still immersed in traditional ways of life. With a focus on women's lives, we will: 

  • Meet talented artisans who turn paper, clay and fabric into works of art for ritual and adornment

  • Get to know the women of Puente a la Salud, an innovative nonprofit assisting women farmers in amaranth production

  • Learn to cook from a renown Zapotec chef, shopping with her for ingredients at the local morning market

  • Spend a day visiting rural women empowered by microfinance opportunities and learn about their businesses

  • Take part in a natural dyeing workshop, creating your own take-home piece with locally-produced indigo

  • Explore the beautiful, ancient site of Monte Alban, whose great stone pyramids stand as silent reminders of its bustling metropolis 1500 years past

Our travels culminate around the Dia de los Muertos festivities, this grand tradition that honors the souls of the deceased who return each year to feast and celebrate. The graveyards fill with people, candles, flowers, brass bands and food while home altars – literal cornucopias of food and beauty – are built to welcome back the departed. We’ll be there too, building our own altar to remember and celebrate our loved ones, as well as visiting graveyards, masquerade parades and partaking in delicious feasts. 

HERE'S WHAT PAST TRAVELERS HAVE TO SAY:

“It was so much more than I expected. The Dia de Los Muertos was one of the most moving experiences I have had and the chance to visit the people and see how they live their lives in such simplicity and grace was truly a gift. I couldn’t make one suggestion on how to improve this trip!”

“I have traveled much of the world and this trip has to rate near the top for the experiences with the people of Oaxaca.”

“This was one of the best tours I have ever experienced. We felt not only like guests, but like family to the people who opened their homes to us to share their art and skills, their food and their hospitality.”