Women in Oaxaca
Kirsten Dickerson and Katrina Jane Perry to co-lead an artisan and foodie excursion to Mexico, immersing travelers in local culture
by Abby Moore
Along with the encouragement to reduce waste and eat local, Earth Day also prompted Instagrammers to post scenic photos from enviable travels. Ironically, visiting those picture-perfect destinations is often linked to mass tourism, which can negatively impact the environment. To reduce that impact, Kirsten Dickerson, founder of Raven + Lily, recently launched The Fernweh Studio to promote thoughtful, responsible and sustainable travel.
For six nights, Dickerson is teaming up with Katrina Jane Perry of August Etta to lead a group of ten women through Oaxaca, Mexico. Their Artisan and Foodie Excursion begins on July 11 and lasts through July 17. Lodging is located at Los Amantes, a boutique hotel in the heart of old Oaxaca, giving visitors a glimpse of both the modern and historic aspects of the city.
A portion of the trip’s overall cost is donated to Fundación En Vía, an organization aimed at empowering working women through education and interest-free loans. The program utilizes responsible tourism, like Fernweh, to introduce travelers to local culture and cultivate an honest exchange between visitor and villager.
Interacting with local artisans through En Vía is one of the first checks on Dickerson and Perry’s itinerary. In the pueblo of Teotitlán del Valle the group will meet Ludivina Ruiz Vásquez, a standing-loom wool weaver, whose colorful rugs are naturally dyed with plants foraged from the region. The second En Vía supported artist is chef Isabel Lázo Chávez who will greet the guests at her restaurant, Comodor Jaguar, and prepare homemade mole negro for lunch. Sisters Sofie and Sara Ruiz, the final two artists of the day, will teach the group how to make their ornamental beeswax candles, which are often incorporated into Oaxacan ritual ceremonies.
A deeper education on the intricacies of weaving will take place at the Mendez residency, home to the renowned Oaxacan weaving family. “I am thrilled by the opportunity to share the incredible traditions in hand-loomed artistry,” Perry says, crediting the city as the inspiration behind August Etta’s woven textiles.
After understanding the sophistication of artisan practices, the “foodie” portion of the trip comes into focus. Education, the underlying purpose of the local cooking class and pre-dinner mezcal tasting, might be outshined by the final indulgent products.
To walk off any over-consumption, the group will visit Mercado de Tlacolula, one of the largest and oldest open-air markets in the city. Yields from fresh, seasonal harvests will be available for cooking later or eating on the spot.
“Artistry and produce from surrounding pueblos offers an authentic glimpse into the diversity of craft traditions,” Dickerson says.
Striking a balance between active and restful, the trip offers free time when visitors can explore churches, gardens and other historical locations. Additionally, the itinerary includes hikes through the mountainside and archaeological site visits.
Dickerson and Perry’s intentionally planned excursion will be a sensorial experience, stimulating taste buds through local cuisine and placing visitors in the midst of natural beauty. But most valuably, the two hosts aim to spark conversation about local culture and provoke the development of greater global appreciation.