When was the last time you followed a trail of flower petals?
Join us on the adventure
Be one of 6 travelers to join
for a rare, authentic experience of
The Day of the Dead in Mexico
October 27 - November 3, 2023
A Trail of Marvels
I invite you to be one of six travelers to join me on a very special one week trip. We will explore one of the most beautiful regions of Mexico at the perfect time of year, and we will visit some of my dear friends in a remote Totonac village. They have invited us into their home on the Day of the Dead to share a special meal together, to welcome their returning family spirits (and perhaps yours) while witnessing truly authentic celebrations of el Día de los Muertos.
I have photographed the Day of the Dead in Mexico for nearly 40 years, traveling to more than thirty locations, in nine Mexican states. Last year, I published A Trail of Marvels: A Memoir of Mexico and the Day of the Dead, illustrated with over 200 of my photographs. By far, the most interesting celebrations that I witnessed in all my travels—and the source of many of my best photographs of traditional Day of the Dead rituals—were in this particular village, Zinacapan, and with the family of Miguel de los Santos. I photographed the youngest child in the family, Maria Aurora, as a baby in her crib in 1989. This year, she and her family will be our hosts.
Miguel de los Santos and his family, at home in Zinacapan, Puebla (1989)
Our trip is scheduled for October 27th to November 3rd, 2023. The group will meet in the Mexico City airport and travel directly to Puebla, where the centro historico district of this beautiful city will be vibrant with activity and color as the Day of the Dead approaches.
After a day and a half in Puebla, we will depart for the vast mountainous region north of the city. All travel will be with a licensed guide/driver in our spacious private van.
We will arrive in the historic mountain city of Cuetzalan at a time when the market is at its absolute peak, offering traditional foods, drinks, and unique handmade toys crafted for the Day of the Dead.
We will explore the steep, cobblestone streets of the town, nearby archeological ruins, and the tropical landscape of the area. Then we will visit the Totonac village of Zinacapan, one of the few places I have found where the ancient traditions of the Day of the Dead are still practiced each year.
On November 1st, the first Day of the Dead, we are invited to share comida (the midday meal) and welcome the returning spirits of their ancestors with the de los Santos family, who first invited me into their home in 1989.
After our 5-day adventure in Cuetzalan and Zinacapan, we will drive south on November 2nd, to witness other unique Day of the Dead celebrations in Huaquechula, Puebla, before returning to Puebla city for a grand departure dinner on our last night together.
Photographs (top to bottom):
- Cascada las Brisas, near Cuetzalan,Puebla.
- Maria Guadalupe de los Santos in 1990 decorating her home for Day of the Dead.
- Maria Aurora de los Santos (Maria Guadalupe's child) in her crib in 1989. Maria Aurora and her family will host our group this year.
- Flower vendors in the Cuetzalan market before the Day of the Dead
- A Day of the Dead ofrenda in a home in Zinacapan, Puebla
- A Day of the Dead ofrenda in a home in Huaquechula, Puebla.
2023 TRAVEL ITINERARY
Friday, October 27th Recommended flight from Houston: United # 1060 Departs 9:30 AM arrives 10:50 AM
Group meets at 1:00 PM in the Mexico City airport. 2:00 PM departure by private van for Puebla. 4:00 PM check in Hotel Colonial in Puebla. 4:00 PM-8:00 PM free time to explore centro historico; 8:00 PM dinner.
Saturday, October 28th Explore Puebla. Options include: visit Museo Amparo, Uriarte talavera workshop, Biblioteca Polafoxiana (the oldest library in the Americas), explore and photograph street life in the centro historico. 8:00 PM dinner.
Sunday, October 29th 8:00 AM depart for Cuetzalan; arrive approximately noon, check into Posada Quetzalin, explore Cuetzalan’s Sunday market and centro historico.
Monday, October 30th Morning free to explore Cuetzalan. 1:00 PM depart for a tour of the Cuetzalan area landscape, including archeological site at Yohualichan, Cascada las Brisas, Jardin Botanico Xoxoctic, concluding with our first visit to the village of Zinacapan (also spelled Tzinacapan), where Day of the Dead preparations are starting.
Tuesday, October 31st 9:00 AM depart for Zinacapan, where we spend the day. Assisted by three guides, we explore the village in groups of 2, each group with a local guide, visiting homes, viewing the trails of marigold petals, ofrendas, and other preparations for the arrival of the spirits.
Wednesday, November 1st (the first Day of the Dead) We return to Zinacapan for further exploration and comida (midday dinner) with the de los Santos family.
Thursday, November 2nd (the second Day of the Dead) 8:00 AM we depart Cuetzalan for a 3 to 4-hour drive to Huaquechula, a town south of Puebla city, that has become known for its stunning ofrendas and its festive street celebrations on Day of the Dead. Return before dark to Puebla city for lodging at the Hotel Purificadora and a departure dinner.
Friday, November 3rd, 9:00 AM departure from Puebla for drive to the Mexico City airport. Arrive approximately 11:00 AM. Recommended flight to Houston: United #1091, departs 2:15 PM, arrives Houston 5:40 PM
Photos (above, left to right): Streets of Cuetzalan, Puebla; copal and marigolds for sale in the Cuetzalan market before the Day of the Dead; and candy skulls and handmade toys for sale in the same market.
Photo: a family in Zinacapan, Puebla and their ofrenda on the Day of the Dead
Fee for the trip is $4,850.00 per person, which includes: all ground transportation (by private 14-passenger van and licensed driver/guide) for 8 days, including pickup and return to Mexico City airport; lodging for all 7 nights (double occupancy) and breakfast. Supplement for single occupancy lodging: $650.00.
Airfare to and from Mexico City not included.
A deposit of $1,000.00 per person will reserve your place(s) on the trip.
Deposits are fully refundable until September 30th, 2023, when the balance of the fee is due.
Deposits and fees are not refundable after September 30th, 2023, but reserved spaces on the trip may be transferred to other travelers.