Previous Travelers!

Is YOUR group’s photo here?

Here are 75 photos of groups of previous travelers from the past twenty+ years, all the best digital shots we could find so far. See if your group is here.
Not in chronological order, sorry! Let me know if any dates are incorrect. We feel very lucky to have known all these wonderful people.

Textile tour visits renowned kente strip cloth weaver.

GHANA 2020: Susan just bought a big kente cloth from a renowned weaver on this textile tour; leader Barou Samake.

 

PERU 2019: Textile tour takes a break to admire Inka stonework at Sacsahuayman, archeological site above Cuzco.

 

BHUTAN 2019:  At a 14,000 foot pass, briefly – five of us knitting! Prayer flags flutter to bless departed family members. Tej, our excellent driver, at far left.

 

Morocco textile tour travelers with friend who makes trim for clothing.

MOROCCO 2019: Textile tour group shares a laugh with Bouchra who came to the hotel to teach us plaited trims; Fes.

 

ARGENTINA 2018: Knitters at the countryside estancia near Buenos Aires where we had a private knitting retreat and relaxing time on 200 acres.

 

BHUTAN 2020:  Hardy hikers who ascended to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro; other people decided to relax at the hotel for the day! Complete group below.

 

Cooking class in Bhutan hotel in Bumthang Valley.

BHUTAN 2020:  In the Bumthang hotel kitchen, we made buckwheat noodles and garlic potatoes for dinner. BTSA team’s guide Sonam at center and driver Tej on far right.

 

Lush garden by Niger River, Mali.

MALI 2011: Taking a break from painting mudcloth to crunch on fresh carrots in Papou’s riverside garden.

Previous travelers on Argentina Knitting tour with Cynthia Samake.

URUGUAY 2018   Happy knitters with big bags of yarn from the Malabrigo mill. Montevideo. I’m sure we all needed yarn….

 

Past group of knitters in Buenos Aires, knitting tour.

ARGENTINA 2016: Dressed up for the Tango Dinner and Show in Buenos Aires!

 

MOROCCO 2019: Taking a break from climbing around the Roman ruins of Volubilis, near Meknes.

 

Southern LAOS 2006: With Wat Phu Champasak in the background, UREP group relaxes before climbing to the top.

 

Ikat weavers, India.

INDIA 2018: Renowned family of master silk ikat weavers explains their complex technique of making double ikat on a slanted loom.

 

Group on steps in Chefchaouen Morocco.

MOROCCO 2018: We’re headed to a cooking class in the blue city of Chefchaouen. Great driver Abdul at right.

 

 

Cambodian cooking class group.

CAMBODIA 2018: We’re learning the basics of Cambodia cuisine while we make our delicious lunch; mangoes and sticky rice are for dessert!

 

LAOS: Textile tour travelers rest on the hike up to see spectacular Wat Phu, in the southern part of the country.

 

Archeological sites are included on most of Behind the Scenes textile tours of Turkey.

TURKEY 2005:  On the steps of ancient amphitheatre in Selcuk. Some of these loyal previous travelers have gone on many trips with us since this long-ago adventure!

 

INDIA 2015: Visiting a tea plantation and meeting the workers before a tea-tasting.

 

Group of textile tour people, India

INDIA 2018: Happy day at the salty lakes of northern Gujarat state; we had just seen a herd of wild asses!

 

Group of hikers on Turkey coast.

TURKEY 2013: Hiking trip on the woodsy Mediterranean coast with our wonderful guide Zeynep in purple and trekking guide Ozgur at left.

 

Knitting and weaving tour to the Andes. Group at hotel in Cuzco

PERU 2018: Textile Tour group with Nilda Callañaupa at center, heading out for a great natural dye workshop in Nilda’s hometown. Cuzco.

 

Group with bead artist, Cedi in Ghana

GHANA 2018: Barou and BTSA group, ready to start a bead-making workshop with Cedi, famous glass bead artist, at center.

 

Previous travelers with silk scarves made in dye workshop with Master Ali M. Katri

INDIA 2018: We just made the most beautiful tie-dyed scarves, with Master Bandhini artist and his sons.

 

group from the past Morocco textile tour

MOROCCO 2016: Argan tree with goats (above Ali’s head) who eat the nuts. The rest are made into argan oil.

 

Ghana textile tour previous travelers learn making adinkra printing ink.

GHANA 2018:  Peter shows the textile tour group how to make ink for the Adinkra printing workshop. Photo: Tour leader Barou Samake.

 

Group at Machu Picchu with Inca stones.

PERU 2009: We’ve climbed to the top of Machu Picchu and the Inca stonework is amazing!

 

Behind the Scenes group on textile tour sit on reed Urus islands in Peru.

PERU 2007   Previous travelers with Cynthia’s 2-year old god-daughter Anita. Her parents let the group participate in her first hair-cutting ceremony, and little Anita let a bunch of strangers snip at her hair! Urus Islands, Lake Titicaca.

 

group from the past in Turkey with Cynthia Samake

TURKEY 2012: BTSA textile/culture tour group among the columns of the Athena Temple, Assos-Behramkale.

 

Northeast India textile tour group rests on the steps of the Nunnery in Tawang.

NORTHEAST INDIA 2016: At Tawang Nunnery with drivers Daniel, Manoj and Nomo. Littlest nun on my lap; not visible are the dark red sheepskin boots I brought for her. Miraculously they fit her cold little feet!

 

Oaxaca Mexico textile tour group of previous travelers, at farewell dinner.

MEXICO 2010: Farewell dinner, previous travelers from our textile tour in Oaxaca; with Chloe Sayer in blue/black huipil.

 

INDIA 2009: To enter a New Delhi mosque, we donned colorful but very modest bag dresses that they have available at the entrance!

 

Group sitting on steps of old building in Bolivia.

BOLIVIA 2017  Carnival and textiles tour group. With Liz Rojas at Candelaria Hacienda outside of Tarabuco.

 

Lunch in Oaxaca Mexico

MEXICO 2010: One of the UREP research groups of previous travelers, headed to the Assumption Festival. With Chloe Sayer.

 

Group from the past, travelers to Peru in Lima

PERU 2015: We visited the little-known Museo del Andres Castillo, with its good collection of ancient artifacts, Lima.

 

TURKEY 2007:  Knitters hit the huge Yarn Market near the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

 

MEXICO 2013: Visiting the municipal art museum near Oaxaca city, with Chloe Sayer, far right.

 

MALI 2011: Our Tuareg friend Halis showed us around his Sahara Desert town of Timbuktu; yes, it’s real!

 

GUATEMALA 2014: Ready for the ride across Lake Atitlan to Santiago Atitlan, to see embroidered huipiles.

 

BOLIVIA 2005: My super students from University of CA Davis Summer School Abroad ‘World Textiles’ class; Tiwanaku archaeological site near LaPaz. One of my favorite groups from the past!

 

TURKEY 2008: Learning how rugs are knotted and woven – and how to judge quality – in a little carpet shop in Cappadocia.

 

PERU and BOLIVIA 2006:  Private tour ladies relaxing with our knitting at lakeside Titicaca hotel.

 

Relaxed group from the past, long ago in Thailand!

LAOS 2006:  University Research Expedition Program: Weaving group at dinner break by the Mekong River.

 

Athena Temple- Steve Chun

TURKEY 2014: Amidst the columns of Athena Temple at Assos; guide Zeynep bottom right. (Steve Chun photo)

 

Peru travel group in Lima.

PERU 2010: After a morning of seeing ancient textiles in Lima museums, we had lunch at El Bolivariano.

 

CAMBODIA 2018: Excited to be heading out to the fabulous Angkor Wat temple complexes.

 

Private tour at Tikal, Guatemala.

GUATEMALA Private tour with friends at Tikal National Park, Maya site.

 

TURKEY 2014:  At the UNESCO World Heritage site of Divrigi, beautiful and historical hospital-mosque.

 

TURKEY: Exploring Cappadocia’s eroded sandstone formations and visiting the painted cave churches.

 

MEXICO:  Waiting for the embroiderer to come back so we can see his work! Juchitan. Chloe Sayer, far left.

 

MEXICO 2010: Lunch in Teotitlan del Valle, famous rug weaving town, outside of Oaxaca.

 

TURKEY: Friends on a Textile and Cuisine Tour, at the famous and exquisite Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

 

LAOS 2009: We donated school supplies and met the teachers and girls at a rural elementary school.

 

TURKEY: We have just spent the night in a village homestay; super guide Fatih and best driver Ahmet at left!

 

Showing off our beautiful scarves! Turkey

TURKEY 2012: Showing off our hand block-printed scarves in Tokat. Many friends from Alaska on this trip.

 

INDIA 2013:  Happy with our hand-dyed and tied silk scarves made with the help of a Master Dyer!

 

ARGENTINA 2016: Knitters gather at the Estancia; fabulous cooks Rebecca and Maria on either side of Cynthia.

 

PERU 2006: UC Davis Summer School Abroad camps out in Paucartambo for the Virgin of Carmen Festival.

 

MALI 2011    Headed out to the mudcloth (bogolan fini) village, to try mud painting, with Barou Samake.

 

INDIA 2017   We’re proud of the scarves we stamped with hand-carved blocks at  friend Deepak’s studio.

 

MALI 2012  Nighttime celebration at Papou’s wedding festival in Barou’s hometown of Segou.

 

BOLIVIA 2006   At the Benito Cruz mask-maker studio before heading to Oruro for Carnival; La Paz

 

GUATEMALA 2016: Dear friend Tomasa with us at a restaurant outside of Patzun. She embroidered my huipil.

 

ARGENTINA 2016:  Taking a break on our Street Art Tour in Buenos Aires. It’s everywhere and all legal!

 

Group of women with white masks wait to tour a hat factory in Sucre.

BOLIVIA 2017: We’re here to tour the SUCRE Hat Factory, not to stage a hold-up! Masks ostensibly will protect us from flying fleece.

 

GUATEMALA 2014: Leaving the hotel for the airport, to fly to the Tikal Mayan ruins in the jungle.

 

MOROCCO 2008: Travelers at Volubilis Roman ruins; 32-day private tour. Mali and Ghana were next….

 

N.E. INDIA 2015  Ladies play dress-up in Saris at the Good-bye Party on the Brahmaputra River beach!

 

INDIA 2017   Checking out the organic cotton fields. The guide sews his own exquisite handspun cotton clothes!

 

CAMBODIA 2015  Angkor Thom – Ancient Khmer temple with strangler fig roots, and our driver, Sai.

 

GHANA 2011:  At Jamestown fishing port with school director Mark, who showed us the boat building processes.

 

ARGENTINA 2015  Happy Knitters’ group with Joji Locatelli and Alejandra Pont, and other great knitters!

 

BOLIVIA 2018: We just toured the Sucre Hat Factory.

 

PERU 2011 Visiting friends on the totora reed Urus Islands, floating in Lake Titicaca.

 

INDIA 2011: New Delhi visit to the tall brick minaret, Qu’tub Minar, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with great guide Manish.

 

Knitters in Cuzco hotel courtyard.

PERU 2008:  Knitters and two of my wonderful cousins. BTSA knitting and weaving tour group, in Cuzco hotel courtyard.

 

INDIA 2011: Showing off our hand-tied and dyed silk scarves with the master bandhini artist; Bhuj.

Textiles & Arts: Ghana

Women in traditional Ghana cloth

Cynthia and Comfort, friend and guide in Kumasi.

February 3 – 16, 2021  Fly home on February 17.

Ghana is sometimes called “Africa for beginners” because of the ease of travel, the friendly, welcoming people and the relative level of modernity compared to other West African nations. Ghana is safe and politically stable, with a tourism infrastructure of hotels and restaurants that improves every year.
We’ll explore not only the textiles of Ghana, but also other creative arts such as the exciting cuisine. You’ll also learn about the historical and ecological features of this fascinating country.
Fortunately the people have retained many cultural and artistic traditions such as use of patterned Kente and Adinkra cloth – and have created some others, such as the fairly recent mode of fantasy coffins. Arts such as bead-making, Kente weaving, batik printing, adinkra stamping, music, and dance are all thriving, alongside the modern aspect of the capital city of Accra.

Barou and the Chief of Yabi village, Kumasi.

Arts and Culture Galore!

This Ghana tour includes three hands-on workshops of traditional crafts. Expert Ghanaian artist-friends will teach us how to make batik wax-stamped cloth, adinkra-printed fabric, and glass beads. You’ll go home with some beautiful creations. An enormous bead market, kente cloth weaving centers, and the studio of the best art coffin carvers make other exciting destinations during our Ghana tour. We’ll also visit an elementary school at the Jamestown fishing village, and spend a morning at the biggest fabric market in West Africa.

Led by Malian Barou Samake and Cynthia Samake, this adventure includes the very best of Ghana. Barou is an upbeat leader with a positive, can-do attitude to ensure that your travel experience enchants and enriches you. Cynthia will explain the context and techniques of the traditional textiles that we’ll see as we travel.

Cynthia mixing colors in dye workshop in Ghana.

Cynthia mixing batik dye for the workshop.

Our driver, Robert is an unflappable professional who has traveled with us for many trips in Ghana. Professional English-speaking local guides will join us at historical sites, including the slave forts or castles. They will add depth to your knowledge by explaining the historical context and background of the sites.

Tour Details

You will be met by the trip leader and driver at Kotoka International airport, in the capital city of  Accra, on February 3 when you arrive. We’ll go from ocean beaches to forest canopy, with lakes and traditional villages in between!

On this wonderful adventure, we will cover as much as possible of the fascinating southern part of the country. We’ll spend several days around bustling Accra, then head off to specific areas such as Kumasi and the Volta Region. This will give us a good feeling for typical Ghanaian life away from the busy coastal areas.

First we’ll head west to tour Cape Coast Castle with a licensed local guide. This important UNESCO World Heritage site was one of thirty large commercial forts built by European traders on the Gold Coast of West Africa (now Ghana). Originally it was built by Swedish settlers to trade timber and gold, but later used in the tragic trans-Atlantic slave trade. We’ll tour the Historical Museum here also. The town of Elmina is believed to be the location of the first point of contact between Europeans and sub-Saharan Africans. Now Elmina is a fishing village with colorful scenes of fishermen and boats on the beach. There we’ll spend the night in modern versions of traditional African round huts – with swimming pool to cool off in nearby.

Man wears Adinkra cloth, Ghana

Distinguished elder in traditional Adinkra cloth wrapper.

Later we’ll head north to Kumasi. There, a local friend will navigate the Kejetia Market’s cloth lanes with you, so you don’t get lost; see photo at bottom of girls arranging bolts of fabric. This is a quilter’s paradise and the fabrics are inexpensive.

Then we’ll drive to Odumase-Krobo where you will make recycled glass beads with the famous and congenial Cedi, foremost Ghanaian bead artist. The enormous Bead Market will tempt you to add to your collections! At Cedi’s, there will be supplies to thread beads to create your own simple necklaces and bracelets.

Next stop in the Volta Region is pretty Lake Volta, before turning south to Tema and Teshie. After our batik workshop and the visit to the coffin carver, we’ll return to Accra. One day we’ll stop in the fishing town of Jamestown, with its fresh fish market, tuna smoking ovens and fishing scene on the beach. We will meet with a friend who is the Director there. He’ll show us the boats being crafted by hand, and will explain how the communal fishing organization works. He will also show us the little school for the fishermen’s children (built by Canadians) and you can donate school supplies here if you wish.

Barou with Ewe kente cloth.

Barou examines a beautiful piece of kente strip cloth.

Kente Cloth, Adinkra and Batik

The famous Ghanaian kente cloth is still woven in several places. We’ll meet weavers in Bonwire (near Kumasi) who will show us weaving techniques and you can sit at a loom and try your hand. He will also explain the significance of the beautiful designs and color combinations. There are over 300 kente patterns, each with its own name and meaning derived from proverbs, historical events, and important chiefs. We’ll meet the weavers in individual and coop settings to see weaving demonstrations by both Ewe and Ashanti people. Also you’ll be able to buy their work directly from them and observe their weaving techniques.

Three Workshops

We’ll try our hand at some traditional crafts in several half-day workshops mentioned above. We will print adinkra motifs with stamps made from sections of hand-carved dried gourd. Another day we’ll stamp hot wax on cotton yardage for a gorgeous batik. Also we’ll make recycled glass beads with famous bead artist Cedi. At a fabulous weekly Bead Market, dozens of vendors offer an amazing variety of handmade beads, for great prices. Later we’ll create necklaces and bracelets from our handmade beads and newly acquired ones. These hands-on workshops represent typical arts and culture of Ghana that are being both maintained and re-invented by the artisans.

Fantasy Coffins

FIsh Coffin, Accra GHANA

Art coffin being transported to a funeral site.

On the way back into Accra, we’ll visit the most prominent coffin carving workshop, to see what they are working on. These wooden, custom-made coffins reflect the career or aspirations of the deceased, for the Ga ethnic community. Fishermen might be buried in a huge colorful fish or a carpenter in a big plane-shaped coffin. Ghanaians can request burial in a carved wooden version of their favorite automobile, or airplane.

Farmers can order cocoa pods or chili peppers for the journey to the other life. Some men choose a beer bottle or an over-sized Coca Cola bottle. Popular women’s coffins include huge chickens, with smaller wooden “chicks” at her feet, one representing each of the lady’s children. We’ll see the coffin construction and carving process, and some different models currently on hand. ‘Fantasy coffins’ have become art pieces in  America and other countries, appearing in many museums and private collections. You can see more here: Eric Adjetey Anang, coffin artist.PBS

Beaders, Quilters and Other Fabric Enthusiasts

Patchwork quilt made from Ghana cloth

“Africa” Quilt by Melanie Grishman.

Bring an empty suitcase to hold all the beads, antique and new kente cloth, and amazing roller-printed fabrics you’ll discover in the overflowing markets! We will go on a special market tour in Kumasi with a charming, local friend who knows the labyrinth of stalls and where to find the best fabrics – and whatever else you may need – great fun!

Arrive on February 3 and fly home from Accra on February 17.
February 16
is LAST included night of hotel.

Many flights leave Accra late at night. So on the 17th, you have free time until you need to go to the airport; you may leave your bags safely at the hotel and hang out by the pool or in the restaurant. Or walk into nearby Osu for some last-minute shopping, etc.

See the Ghana Image Gallery here. 

Behind the Scenes Adventures IN ACTION:
We have a project to help local schools where we travel; we’ll visit an elementary school in a village and offer school supplies.  If you would like, bring some basic school supplies that will be  most appreciated. BTSA travelers have been wonderfully generous about donating pens, pencils and notebooks during our visits, and the children are so sweet; this is really a heart-warming experience!!  See the BTSA Helping page here.

Printing Adinkra cloth with traditional gourd stamps.

Cynthia uses Adinkra stamps to embellish a factory-printed fabric.

Price: $4295 

(Arrive Feb. 3 and depart late on Feb. 17.)

Single supplement: $550

Includes:

  • 14 nights hotel accommodation in comfortable local hotels (double rooms) with private bathroom.
  •  All transportation by private van with professional driver
  • All meals, except two lunches in Accra (Order dishes of your choice from menus)
  • All soft drinks, beer, and water with meals
  • Bottled water in the van on the road
  • Airport transportation on group arrival and departure days
  • All entrances to historical sites and museums on itinerary
  • Professional guide at Elmina Castle
  • Expert shopping guide for Kumasi market tour
  • Kente cloth weaving demo
  • Three workshops: glass-bead making, Adinkra stamping, and batik printing.
  • 2 yards of cotton cloth are provided for the batik printing workshop.
  • Tips for the professional guides at historical sites are also included.

Girl selling fish takes a break to flirt!

Not included:

International (roundtrip) airfare to Accra, your easy visa for Ghana ($100 from Texas USA consulate; we will send info); personal items such as laundry, any between-meal snacks, hard alcoholic drinks (beer is included), and the cloth to print Adinkra on.

There will be a group market outing in Kumasi to buy your choice of cloth for Adinkra printing. Batik cotton is included for your wax printing workshop.

NOTE #1
If you arrive or depart on a different day than the designated group arrival/departure date, you will need to pay the taxi from airport to hotel, and any additional nights of hotel.
Plan flights to arrive after 10am or before 8pm if possible. Barou will meet you at the airport, with the driver on the group arrival date. Otherwise, we will arrange for the hotel to send a known and safe taxi driver for you. The Ghana airport is enclosed and fairly un-chaotic.
NOTE #2
After you have paid the $500 deposit for Arts and Culture of Ghana, and several months before departure, we will send you the form to fill out for your visa to Ghana. You will send the forms and check to TEXAS, USA, for the easiest method.
Please don’t use another way because other visa places are inefficient and it can get really complicated. You’ll also receive an emailed information packet with lists of what to bring, heath and cultural info, maps, etc.

Fishing boats in the harbor.

NOTE #3
It is impossible to plan in advance attendance at traditional musical or dance events or even holidays and festivals, from afar. We love these events, and we’re happy to be flexible and spontaneously attend traditional performances in villages along the way, if the chance should arise.