You wake up in the seat of your bus, accidentally spooning with the passenger riding next to you, as the country’s roads have rocked you both to sleep during the night’s journey. The sun peeks its first rays through the mountains, making the cacti and agave glow on the steep inclines surrounding you. Around each curve of the road, light beams itself through your bus windows, waking the other passengers too. And suddenly you feel an inexplicable rush — one that you’ve never felt before — and can only be attributed to having a deep understanding of a place; a knowing in the pit of your gut that you have been there before and you are home.
Oaxaca is this place for me.
The land reminds me of some deep ancestral connection to nature. And the people, moving around in their slow and intentional style, always seem to fit together in such serendipitous ways. When I travelled to Oaxaca for the first time, I wasn’t expecting to find that connection, but I was expecting to find the best Mexican food and mezcales. So good in fact, that I intended to bring my cultural art tourism company, Thread Caravan, to the region. Thread Caravan hosts art workshops around the world in an effort to preserve traditional craft, and provide travelers with a more authentic experience. What better place than Oaxaca, where people remain connected to the land and still do everything by hand? Clothes are woven on archaic looms, mezcal is distilled in clay pot vats, each sauce is made from scratch and food is eaten off of ceramic plates that – you guessed it – were also made by hand. This place is the real deal. It has a connectedness all its own.
These photos offer a glimpse of what the Thread Caravan Oaxaca Experience is like — learning to grind roasted mole ingredients on a metate, harvesting mezcal’s agave with a machete, climbing atop ancient Zapotec sites, and finding the rhythm of the Mexican desert.
Originally hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Caitlin has made her home in various places from Cambodia to Guatemala, New Orleans to Maui. An artist since childhood, Caitlin started Thread Caravan as a way to help preserve traditional artisanal crafts, empower marginalized communities of artisans and provide a more authentic experience to travelers.