One of the things I did while I was in Oaxaca was connect with Eric Mindling, an American who has lived in Oaxaca for the last fifteen years (I first met him several years ago). Originally he came down to travel around to indigenous villages and buy pottery on behalf of a company that imported them to the US. Then he launched a pottery export business of his own, called Manos de Oaxaca.
His most recent venture is a company called Traditions Mexico, which builds on his knowledge and relationships with artisans in small, often remote villages to offer small group tours. Most of the tours are focused on artisan crafts.
Eric is someone who has been determined to follow his passion from the very beginning, and he has.
If you have a chance and an interest in getting off the beaten path for an experience most tourists never get, I really recommend looking at the tours Eric offers. First and foremost because he has such excellent relationships he has developed over the years. He genuinely cares about the people he works with, and they think he rocks (I´ve met several of the Zapotec potters he bought pots from as a pottery exporter, and they had nothing but great things to say about him).
I have nothing to do with Eric´s business, and this is an unsolicited plug. I´m just singing his praises and that of the tours he offers because he´s a great guy, and I love both his approach and his philosophy. I think anyone that takes one of the tours is destined to have a great experience.
If nothing else, go to the Manos de Oaxaca site and get a vicarous taste of Oaxaca through a gringo´s eyes. Eric is a great writer as well.
I also turned him on to blogging, so hopefully I´ll be able to post a link to his new blog in the future.
Passion Catalyst SM