21976
Mexico
Oaxaca & Puebla: Ancient Civilizations & Modern Cuisine
Satisfy your intellectual and culinary hunger in southern Mexico as you learn to cook authentic cuisine, visit important archeological sites and discover traditional crafts.
Rating (5)
Program No. 21976RJ
Length
12 days
Starts at
2,449
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12 days
11 nights
26 meals
11 B 8 L 7 D
DAY
1
Arrive Oaxaca, Check-in, Welcome Dinner
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca
D
Hotel Casa Conzatti

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 2:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After arriving at the hotel, checking in and getting your room, take some time to unpack, freshen up, and relax.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll enjoy a plated 3-course meal, plus soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
2
Orientation, Market System, Benito Juárez Market
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca
B
Hotel Casa Conzatti

Activity note: Walk approx. 3 miles total throughout the day; flat terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll enjoy a buffet breakfast of Mexican and international cuisine featuring a variety of hot dishes, bread, pastries, fruit, and yogurt, plus coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. An instructor conduct classroom sessions, a certified expert will lead field trips, and transportation will be via bus unless specified otherwise. This is a Road Scholar FLEX program. It offers a more flexible schedule than our traditional programs with ample time for personal independent exploration and several meals on your own to enjoy the cuisine of your choice. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Our first lecture will begin with a presentation at the hotel given by our Study Leader on the market system in Oaxaca and its importance in Oaxacan cuisine. We will then walk with our local expert to the famous Mercado Benito Juárez where we’ll feast our eyes on the rich colors of the fruits and vegetables, the smells of the aromatic herbs and exotic spices, the sounds of the vendors calling out “Tortillas! Tamales! Chocolate! Chapulines!” Right in the middle of it all, we’ll take in the hustle and bustle of the local chefs picking ingredients for their evening masterpieces of culinary delights, browse the high quality leather bags and sacred hearts of hammered tin or beaded jewelry, and watch artisans weave rugs, put finishing touches on pottery, and create amazing paintings.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Our field trip for today will continue with a visit to the Mayordomo Chocolate Factory where we will learn from a local expert about the history of chocolate making and receive a step-by-step demonstration of how it is done. We will learn how chocolate was traditionally prepared as a drink that was only for members of Mayan royalty; see how the cacao is flavored with vanilla and transformed into a liquid, paste, or block form; and learn how chocolate is used in food preparation, beverages, and in the candy-making industry. After the demonstration, we will return to the hotel for a social hour and a great opportunity to get to know your fellow Road Scholars.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like or sample the local flavor. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Pre-Hispanic Foods, Cooking Class, Santo Domingo Church
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca
B,L
Hotel Casa Conzatti

Activity note: Driving approx. 3 miles one way to cooking class; about 1/2 hour each way. Walking approx. 1 mile total throughout the day; paved surfaces; periods of standing during cooking class.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: In our private meeting room in the hotel, our expert will introduce us to pre-Hispanic food of México and the impact on cuisine worldwide as a result of the Spanish invasion. The state of Oaxaca is deservedly famous for its wonderful and varied cuisine. Boarding the bus, we will ride to La Cocina Oaxaqueña Cooking School for a special hands-on cooking class with one of Oaxaca’s famous chefs, Gerardo Aldeco, who has been working with groups for more than fifteen years.

Lunch: At La Cocina Oaxaqueña, we will enjoy the food we prepared in the hands-on cooking class, plus coffee, soft drinks, fruit water, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will then take a walking field trip to the historic district to visit the Santo Domingo church and museum. Once the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, founded by the Dominican Order, the rooms that constituted the monastery now house the Cultural Center of Oaxaca. Began in 1570 and constructed over a period of 200 years, it underwent a complete restoration that was finished in 1999.

Dinner: On your own to sample the local fare.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Mitla, Santa María del Tule, Teotitlán del Valle
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca
B,L
Hotel Casa Conzatti

Activity note: Walk approx. 2.5 miles total throughout the day; compact trails. Driving approx. 60 miles total for the day; about 2.5 hours, with stops.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Aboard our bus with a local expert, we will set out for Santa María del Tule. This used to be marshland filled with bulrushes, which the Aztecs called “tulle,” and cypress trees. We’ll stop in the town center where El Árbol del Tule is located, a 2,000 year old Montezuma cypress tree that is the widest tree in the world with a diameter of almost 40 feet. Continuing, we’ll go to Mitla, an archaeological site that is an important representation of Zapotec culture as it features unique and intricate geometric and mosaic work. Well-preserved thanks to the dry climate, Mitla was the residence of the high priest, whom the Spanish likened to the Pope, and served as the main religious center for the Zapotec.

Lunch: At a local restaurant just outside Mitla, we’ll enjoy a tasty buffet specializing in different kinds of moles, a variety of salads, main dishes, and desserts, plus coffee, soft drinks, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Our exploration will continue with a visit to Teotitlán del Valle, a small village known for its handmade textiles from local materials. The village was originally founded by the Zapotec under the name Xaguixe, meaning “at the foot of the mountains,” and still retains much of its original culture. The Spanish then renamed the site Teotitlán del Valle; Teotitlán meaning “land of the gods” in Nahuatl. While here, we will be treated to a unique demonstration given by our local experts, as well as local professional weavers from Teotitlán del Valle. The demo will include the treating of the wool, the organic coloring, and weaving by a team of professionals weavers.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Monte Albán Archaeological Site & Museum, Free Time
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca
B,L,D
Hotel Casa Conzatti

Activity note: Walk approx. 2 miles total throughout the day; flat surfaces; lots of sun; bring hats, sunscreen and plenty of water. Driving approx. 12 miles one way to Monte Albán Archaeological Site & Museum; about 1 hour roundtrip.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Boarding the bus, we will begin our field trip to Monte Albán, one of the most impressive archaeological sites in México with the most spectacular views. One of the greatest Mesoamerican cities, it served as a political and economic center for the Zapotec from roughly 500 BCE to around 500 CE. One of the defining features of the city are the carved monuments, or Danzantes, lining the Main Plaza. After the site visit, we will walk to the Monte Albán Site Museum and observe many of the artifacts excavated from the area, including the impressive collection of Danzantes.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a 2-course lunch, plus soft drinks, coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will then return to Oaxaca to enjoy some free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and a local restaurant directory will be provided.

Dinner: At a local restaurant a short walk from the hotel, we’ll have a 3-course meal plus soft drinks, coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Hands-On Cooking Class, Free Time
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca
B,L
Hotel Casa Conzatti

Activity note: Driving approx. 25 miles one way to cooking school; about 2 hours roundtrip. Minimal walking throughout the day; periods of standing to participate in cooking class.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After transferring to the prestigious Seasons of My Heart Cooking School, we’ll put on aprons for a hands-on cooking class! The class focuses on pre-Hispanic foods, traditional culinary, medicinal and spiritual herb usage.

Lunch: At the Season of My Heart School, we’ll enjoy a delicious meal featuring the food we prepared, plus soft drinks, coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free time. See and do what interests you most in Oaxaca.

Dinner: On your own to explore the regional cuisine.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Traditional Oaxaca Cuisine, Free Day to Explore Oaxaca
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca
B,D
Hotel Casa Conzatti

Activity note: Free time after lecture. Walking distance and duration dependent on personal preference.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: In our private meeting room, our instructor will introduce us to traditional Oaxacan cuisine during an exclusive lecture. One of México’s gastronomic centers, the state of Oaxaca has some of the country’s most diverse cuisine with the city of Oaxaca at its helm. While the indigenous people have grown the staples of beans, corn and squash for thousands of years, recipes were later brought over from Spain, and the various cultural influences have, over centuries, imposed layers of their own special flavors on the cuisine of today. Afterwards, the remainder of this last day in the city is free for you to experience Oaxaca as you wish. You may want to explore more places of personal interest or just take in the relaxed atmosphere.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free time. Continue your time in Oaxaca independently.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a delicious 3-course meal, plus soft drinks, coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
8
To Puebla, Walking Field Trip
Puebla City, Puebla
B,L,D
Hotel Colonial De Puebla

Activity note: Driving approx. 212 miles to Puebla City; about 4.5 hours total, with stops. Walking approx. 2 miles in downtown Puebla; about 1 hour; periods of standing.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will board the motorcoach and transfer to Puebla, arriving in time to check in and have lunch.

Lunch: At the hotel restaurant featuring Mexican cuisine, we’ll enjoy a 3-course meal, plus soft drinks, coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Then, setting out from the hotel led a local expert, we’ll go on a walking field trip to the World Heritage Site of downtown Puebla, making stops at the Templo de Santo Domingo, a world Heritage Site; the Chapel of Rosario, also called the House of Gold and one of the 8th wonders of the world; Casa de los Muñecos, the Doll House, a baroque house from the 18th century with beautiful talavera tile; and a final stop at the artisan Market “El Parian.” The area was unsettled during the Aztec empire, having served as the location for “flowery wars” between the Aztec alliance and their rivals. Until the establishment of Puebla in 1531, the area was known as Cuetlaxcoapan, or “where serpents shed their skin.” Today the city is known for its diverse architecture and Talavera pottery in addition to being one of the largest cities in México.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a 3-course meal, plus coffee, soft drinks, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Hands-On Cooking Class
Puebla City, Puebla
B,L,D
Hotel Colonial De Puebla

Activity note: Minimal walking around the kitchen; periods of standing during the cooking class.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: At the hotel in our private meeting room, we will enjoy a cooking class led by a local chef during which we will learn the secret of preparing mole poblano, sometimes called the 'national dish of México." One legend behind the sauce's creation tells of convent nuns in Puebla needing to prepare food for the archbishop who was coming to visit. After praying, they mixed together what ingredients they had and poured it on top of cooked turkey. When the archbishop enjoyed the meal, the nun explained that she made a "mole," being the ancient word for mix.

Lunch: Hotel plated meal.

Afternoon: We will continue learning how to prepare mole poblano. With nearly 20 ingredients, mole is a labor-intensive sauce that is a source of pride for the chef. It is said that each Mexican woman has her own mole recipe that has been passed down through their family.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a 2-course meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Colorful Churches, Cholula, Talavera Pottery
Puebla City, Puebla
B,L,D
Hotel Colonial De Puebla

Activity note: Driving approx. 45 miles; about 3 hours total, with stops. Walking approx. 2 miles total throughout the day; flat terrain. Photographs are not allowed at San Francisco Acatepec.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After transferring via motorcoach with a local expert, our day will begin with field trips to Santa María Tonantzintla and San Francisco Acatepec. These two churches are examples how indigenous and Spanish art blended together to create vibrant and colorful masterpieces. Both built in the 17th century, they are fine examples of the Mexican Baroque style that many consider Puebla to be the true capital of. We will then depart Puebla for a field trip to Cholula and the Great Pyramid, one of the largest pyramids in the world. With the widest base of any pyramid in the world at a length of a quarter mile, the pyramid stands 180 feet tall. Built in four stages over a period of 800 years, it was the primary temple to Quetzalcoatl. Following a period of population growth, the pyramid became abandoned until the Toltec-Chichimecas overtook the city and built a new temple atop the pyramid. The temple remained overgrown after the arrival of the Spanish and remained undisturbed until the 19th century, except for the Nuestra Señora de los Remedios church on top. Upon arrival, our local expert will lead us on a walking field trip around the area.

Lunch: On site, we’ll enjoy boxed lunches prepared by the hotel that feature a sandwich, fruit, and potato chips, plus soft drinks, water.

Afternoon: Our field trip at the Cholula Archeological site continues. Believed to have been settled around the 4th century BCE, there were originally two villages near water sources that are part of the eastern half of the city. Various waterways made the land ideal for agriculture, allowing the city to grow and prosper. These waterways also means the city enjoyed an advantageous position as a stop on several major trade routes, thereby helping it to become a major mercantile center. Rather than destroy the city, the Spanish built a second city next door. Both of these sections came to be part of the city of Cholula, with one side having a predominantly indigenous population and the other being largely Spanish. As we return to the hotel, we will stop for a visit to a Talavera Pottery factory for an opportunity to witness the delicate production process from working the clay to decorating and firing the pieces. Brought to México by Spanish colonists, pottery development became very successful in the Puebla region thanks to the accessibility of fine clays and the demand for decoration and tiling in newly established churches and monasteries.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: We’ll gather to enjoy a closing ceremony to wrap up all that we have learned about the food and culture in Oaxaca and Pueblo. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
11
To México City, National Palace, Latin-American Tower
Mexico City
B,L,D
Hotel We Aeropuerto

Activity note: Driving approx. 85 miles to México City; about 2.5 hours. Walking approx. 1 mile throughout the day; mostly flat terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Boarding the motorcoach after checking out of the hotel, we will transfer to México City for the last night of our program. Upon arrival, we will then visit the National Palace next to the zócalo, or main square of México City. With a local expert, we’ll explore the National Palace, the seat of the executive branch of the Mexican government. Located in México City’s main square, much of the materials remain from the original palace that belonged to Montezuma II.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a 3-course meal plus soft drinks, coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll ride to the Latin-American Tower and ascend to the observatory, located on the 44th floor, which offers views from one of the highest points in the city. The tower is a significant architectural and engineering feat, being the first skyscraper in the world to be built in a highly seismic area. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a 3-course meal, plus soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
12
Program Concludes
Mexico City
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 1:00 p.m. Free hotel shuttle service for transfers to the airport departs every 15 minutes. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the buffet features Mexican and international cuisine including a variety of hot dishes, fruit, and pastries, plus coffee, tea, juice, water. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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