It’s my annual fall ritual–I buy next year’s calendar and stare at all those blank days, days of potential for travel, ClothRoads trunk shows, conferences, exhibits, and the challenge to fit it in with work and volunteer time. It’s the time of year that countries, rich in textile-making traditions, beckon me–the ones where I’ve told artisans that we would come visit them and meet the members of their cooperatives, and the places where I yearn to return. How to decide? Take a tour? Travel with a small group? Make all the arrangements myself with the guidance of those who have been before?
As timing would have it, what better place to discuss travel possibilities and ask for guidance than at the Textile Society of America’s biennial conference which took place a few weeks ago. Get a crowd of scholars, curators, educators, artists, students, and fellow textile enthusiasts together and travel is a big topic. We caught up with a few of ClothRoads Travel Resource friends–Eric Mindling of Traditions Mexico, Serena Lee of Textile Odyssey Tours, and Mary Conors who organizes tours for the Textile Arts Council. We can highly recommend their tours and others who are noted in our Resource list here.
Two often asked travel questions are whether we’ve traveled to all these countries to acquire the ClothRoads products or whether we have a favorite place to visit. The response is quite easy—“no” we haven’t been everywhere yet and “yes” we visit the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco with additional trips to the weaving villages in the Peruvian Highlands almost yearly. I could list my top reasons for traveling to the Highlands, but instead, I’m noting Judy Murray’s reasons. She went on last year’s Andean Textile Arts tour, and when she saw the itinerary for next year’s tour in November, she wrote this recommendation to her friends (my comments are in the parentheses):
“While I’m not big on tours, there is so much to recommend this one that the general public would never see, that I’m tempted to take it, even though I took a similar one last year! (Note: Judy has returned to Peru three times.)
First and foremost, you will meet Nilda Callañuapa, an incredible woman who rescued Andean textiles from the brink of extinction. She is certainly a hero of mine. I was thrilled to meet her last year.
You’ll get to visit the high-altitude weaving villages of Chinchero, Chahuaytire, Accha Alta, Pitumarca, and Sallac while gaining exposure to their spinning, dyeing, weaving and knitting techniques–which are particular to each village–and buy treasures directly from the weavers, an experience no shop can replicate. Regular tourists would never get to these villages, except for Chinchero. (Note: ClothRoads shop can certainly provide you with plenty of opportunities before and after your Peru experience!)
You’ll get a private tour of Machu Picchu and the opportunity to return there the next morning. Plus a stay at the awesome Inka Terra Machu Picchu Hotel with its orchid garden.
You’ll visit the private Amano Museum in Lima, with Pre-Columbian textiles and ceramics that left me breathless. The general public does not have access without an appointment.
You’ll have Andrea Heckman as a guide. I don’t know her, but having read her story, I’m practically green with envy! She would be of special interest to photographers.
Plus, you’ll have a free day in Cusco, and if you wanted to extend your trip on your own, it can be done.”
Thanks Judy for these highlights. If she’s enticed you to visit the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco and the Peruvian Highlands, tour information is available here at Andean Textile Arts.
If you want to deepen your textile knowledge and meet other textile travelers, join the Textile Society of America. They sponsor yearly tours too.
Share this on to others who have the travel itch or just want to armchair travel along with us at ClothRoads. We’re sure to cross paths while traveling the cloth road.