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January 1, 2018


Classes & Tours


Here we give information about classes and track many of the scheduled tours to the Casas Grandes region. We are always glad to recommend classes/tours for specific needs and interests. Most tour companies do not offer tours during July and August because of the widespread assumption that Mexico, lying to the south, must be too hot in summer. Yet many prefer summer in some ways to spring, which is dry and sometimes windy. After mid-June the cooling rains begin, and the world turns emerald green. At 5,000 feet elevation, it never gets as hot as in much of the American Southwest, although temperatures do sometimes exceed 100 degrees F in summer and may  dip below freezing in winter. So if summer suits your personal calendar but you find no tours running, remember that it is convenient and easy to travel to this part of Mexico on your own. Always consider that as an option, and feel free to contact us with questions when planning your trip. For language assistance in reaching the potters, you may call the MacCallums on their El Paso line (915-261-0502) which rings in Mexico.




Many pottery families in Mata Ortiz and Casas Grandes offer excellent, pottery classes covering all aspects of the Mata Ortiz approach to clay, from prospecting, digging, and preparing clay, to hand-building a pot (usually the single-coil method developed by Juan Quezada), preparing the surface by sanding and burnishing, making brushes of human hair and painting the pot with non-commercial, mineral slip colorants and, finally, open-air firing in dried cow chips or split wood. Students learn both reduction-firing and graphite techniques of making blackware as well as oxidation firing of white or polychrome ware. Translation is sometimes available, sometimes minimal, but as Juan Quezada points out, those who are going to get it will get it by observation, and when they get it that way, they make a discovery and make it their own. Note that the following information about classes was compiled in 2010, and while it is still largely correct in 2014, it may not be current in all respects. For questions, do not hesitate to call Spencer and Emi MacCallum in Casas Grandes on their El Paso line (915-261-0502) which rings in Mexico.

          The following list of available classes is far from exhaustive. Many people who come to the village without prior arrangement are surprised how readily they find someone to work with. For demonstrations or classes in the United States, consult the section “Exhibitions and Scheduled Events.”




Juan Quezada  Perhaps the Cadillac of all workshops with Juan Quezada (and strangely the most economical) is that offered at Rancho Sierra Madre in the mountains above Mata Ortiz in August or September (see listing below).

Fiesta Tours  Cathy and Marshall Giesy, who have been guiding tours to Mata Ortiz for 29 years (see below), set up eight-day classes with leading potters. $1300 per person, double occupancy, includes travel to and from Tucson and expenses. Ask for a brochure. Also available are mini-classes at $595 per person double occupancy. Contact Cathy Giesy (voice/fax 520-398-9705), Fiesta Tours International, PO Box 2141, Tubac, AZ 85646-2141.  fiestatoursint@gmail.com   www.fiestatoursint.com/.


Daniel and Elda González (661-7068), sister of Gloria Hernández and Roberto Hernández, offer a two-hour demonstration of building a pot, then provide each student a small, dry, unfired pot for sanding, burnishing, painting and finally a firing out-of-doors. $10 USD per person.


          Gloria Hernández offers classes in all aspects of pottery making, from prospecting for and preparing clay to forming the pot, preparing the surface by sanding and burnishing, making a brush and preparing mineral slip colorants, painting the pot, and firing it outdoors using cow chips or split wood. Any length of class, size of group, or techical level.


          Jesús Tena, daughter Elfía and family (Cells 636-536-0220 or 636-121-7100) have taught at La Casa del Nopal. They offer classes for 6-10 persons for four days @ $100 USD per person and for an additional $5 provide a mid-day meal.


          Santos Ledezma and Rosa Loya (brother 661-7079), up the hill from the Adobe Inn Hotel, offer a two-day class for any number up to ten people for $500 USD.


          Lucy Mora and husband Lorenzo Bugarini (661-7034) offer a five-day class for 10-20 persons at their home in Barrio Porvenir. $100 USD per person. [Incidental note: they are also available to demonstrate in the United States—and they will select, purchase and deliver to the United States wholesale lots of pottery for New Mexico and Arizona dealers.)


          Pilo Mora, one of Mata Ortiz’ master potters, occasionally teaches, not on a commercial basis but from the heart. He does not charge, but will give two weeks of instruction where there is a special interest in the art of Mata Ortiz. He now lives part-time in Phoenix (daughter Lizeth 520-256-4229), where he could also teach, and part-time at home in Mata Ortiz.


          Paradise Valley College in Phoenix (602-787-6615) offers an annual, week-long workshop in Mata Ortiz, led by ceramics teacher David Bradley, mainly for people from the College but open to others. See details of itinerary and registration requirements below, under “Paradise Valley College.”


          Rosa Ponce and Julián Ledezma (661-7094) offer a six-day class for 6 to12 persons for $130 USD per person.  This class, running from 9-6pm daily with a lunch break from 1-3pm, includes prospecting, digging, and preparing clay, and all aspects of forming, decorating, and firing. Students often stay at the Posada de la Olla.


          Jerardo (“Jera”) Tena (661-7001), master potter and bilingual, offers a five-day class for groups of three to ten persons. Students often stay at Casa de Marta. Contact him at 636-661-7001, jerardo-tena@hotmail.com.


Ana Trillo opposite the elementary school near the Adobe Inn Hotel, offers both a light, three-day introductory class for three to four persons for $30 per person, and an intensive, eight-to-ten-day workshop for up to ten persons for $100 per person. The introductory class works two hours each morning. The intensive workshop, at which all experience levels are welcome, is all day each day. Phone Ana (Cell 636-104-1917) or email her at  anatrillo_mataortiz70[at]hotmail.com


          Jesús Veloz and wife Carmen Ledezma across from the church in Mata Ortiz and a couple of doors south, offer five-day classes for small groups. All classes end with a farewell fiesta. Carmen studied with the Juan Quezada family, and ceramist David Bradley (602-828-4713) has brought students from Paradise Valley College in Phoenix for these classes. $100 per person tuition includes all materials but not room or board (most students stay at Casa de Marta), though the first five people can room free with the Veloz (but of course leaving a gratuity). Call Jesús and Carmen directly in Spanish at Cell 636-114-5639 or through their son Martín next door at Cell 636-661-7102. A daughter speaks English and some French.


          Diego Valles and wife Carla Martinez (636-661-7137), master potters, bilingual and bicultural, offer classes for serious students. Classes may be five days or longer. Located at the main corner of Barrio Porvenir across the wash at the south end of the village.  diego_valles[at]yahoo.com




César and Gaby Domíngez (692-4609), master potters, operate a gallery on the left (south) side of the street two blocks before exiting Casas Grandes in the direction of Mata Ortiz. Look for a green house with tall cedars against a white iron fence. They offer demonstrations of forming, painting, and outdoor firing of pottery as well as workshops and individual instruction. They also buy and ship pottery for individuals and dealers. doal27[at]prodigy.net.mx





Galería Mata Ortiz sponsors ceramic workshops for all experience levels conducted by master potters such as Lila Silveira, Jesús Martínez, and Elí Navarrete. Participants learn the distinctive Mata Ortiz methods of hand-building a pot, preparing the surface by sanding and burnishing, then painting it and, finally, reduction or oxidation firing outdoors to create black or polychrome wares. Enrollment limited to 12. Tuition $500 USD includes all materials. Lodging is available in attractive surroundings for approximately $50 per day, double occupancy. Next classes will be in May and June, 2015 (dates still pending) and can be arranged at other times when there is interest. Contact Claudia Lovera (322-293-7052), Galería Mata Ortiz, International Airport, Local 78, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco 48333, Mexico.  mataortizgallery@gmail.com   www.mataortizartgallery.com 




All tour guides: Please contact the Calendar

with information on your upcoming tours.



Typical Trip Photos – Check out the Calendar’s Facebook page



Note: Many tours to Copper Canyon begin or end with a stop in Casas Grandes. These are of interest and are listed at the end of this section because they give participants the option of coming early and joining the tour in Casas Grandes or else, by ending here, staying over a few days to visit Mata Ortiz and enjoy the laid-back attractions of this area. A daily van service like an airport shuttle operates between Casas Grandes and Tucson/Phoenix (see the section, “Traveling to the Village”).



With the opening in 2010 of what might properly be called the War on Mexican Tourism, visits by Americans to northwest Chihuahua virtually ceased. Many tour companies suspended operations completely, while others were only able to stay afloat because of their foreign clients, chiefly from Australia, Canada and Britain. Especially hard hit have been school and college students and faculty since insurace companies won’t offer coverage where State Department advisories are in effect—even though, ironically, the statistic on harm to visitors to this part of Mexico, Mexican or American, has been zero. Tourism is recovering, however, and tours now offered include the following:


A CLOSER LOOK TOURS  Agustín Caparros offers a three-day tour to Mata Ortiz for ten or more persons when there is interest. Departing Phoenix/Tucson in the early morning, the group travels through the mountain pass of the Sierra Madres, stops to see points of interest in Janos, which was the Spanish administrative center in the 1500s, and arrives that night at the Hotel Hacienda in Nuevo Casas Grandes. All of the next day is devoted to the village of Mata Ortiz, visiting in the homes and workshops of pottery artists including the legendary Juan Quezada, recipient in 1999 of the Premio Nacional de los Artes, Mexico’s highest honor to a living artist. On the third day the group visits the historic Hacienda de San Diego and points of interest in Casas Grandes including the archaeological site of Paquimé (1200-1450 AD), once the largest and most complex community in the Puebloan world, and the adjacent Museum of Northern Cultures, one of the best archaeological-site museums in North America. Tour price is $545 double occupancy ($85 single supplement).

     Agustín Caparros also conducts a popular, eight-day Copper Canyon Circle Tour from Tucson down the coast and up through the Copper Canyon, ending in Casas Grandes with a visit to Paquimé. (They feature a pottery-making demonstration in Nuevo Casas Grandes but don’t go to Mata Ortiz.) This tour is scheduled for September 6, 13, and 20; October 4, 11, and 18; November 1, 8, 16, and 22; and December 6. For details see their website and also Facebook. Contact Agustín or his son, Collin (602-938-0951, toll-free 877-938-0951), at A Closer Look Tours, Inc., Phoenix.  agustin[at]acloserlooktours.com   www.acloserlooktours.com


 AMBOS TOURS OF ARIZONA  This Nogales based tour company takes small groups on nature, birding, cultural & history tours in Arizona and the Mexican states of Sonora, Sinaloa, and Chihuahua. They have conducted several tours to Mata Ortiz and will do custom tours on request. For more information, contact owner/operator Linda Rushton at 520-988-5425 or touraz4fun[at]msn.com.



AMERIND FOUNDATION   The Amerind Foundation, Dragoon, Arizona, who excavated in 1959-1962 the archaeological site of Paquimé at Casas Grandes, look forward to resuming a yearly educational tour to Casas Grandes and Mata Ortiz in the fall 2015. They also plan separate tours to Copper Canyon at that time. For further information, contact Annie Larkin (520-586-3666), The Amerind Foundation, PO Box 400, Dragoon, AZ 85609  alarkin@amerind.org   www.amerind.org   


ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONSERVANCY  For 25 years, the Conservancy has conducted tours throughout the Americas with expert guides who provide unique insights into the places visited. They look forward to resuming in the near future their popular ten-day tour, Master Potters of the Southern Deserts along the following lines. Friday: Fiesta Inn, Phoenix, a cocktail party and introductory lecture on pottery. Saturday: Pueblo Grande, an ancient Hohokam platform mound complex, and the Heard Museum’s collection of Hohokam, Mimbres, and Southwestern pottery. Sunday: Hohokam sites of Casa Grande and Grewe, then to Tucson and Father Kino’s 17th-century mission of San Xavier del Bac and its restored interior murals, followed by an evening lecture on Hohokam pottery. Monday: The Sonoran Desert Museum for a behind-the-scenes tour of their pottery collection and an evening talk on the Hohokam culture. Tuesday: Western New Mexico University (Silver City) Museum’s private collection of Mimbres painted pottery, followed by an evening talk on Mimbres pottery. Wednesday: Travel through the Gila Wilderness to explore Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and several Mimbres village sites. Thursday: Visit the Deming Museum and its Mimbres collections, then into Mexico to the Hotel Hacienda in Nuevo Casas Grandes and an evening orientation lecture about Casas Grandes. Friday: Tour the Museum of Northern Cultures, one of the best archaeological-site museums in North America, and the ruins of Paquimé (1200-1450 AD), once the largest and most complex community in the Puebloan world. Hear Spencer MacCallum speak on the beginnings of the Mata Ortiz pottery movement and the artistic legacy of Juan Quezada. Saturday: Visit in the home of Juan Quezada and other potters in Mata Ortiz, witness techniques of forming, surface preparation, painting, and outdoor firing of pottery. Sunday: Travel to Wyndham El Paso Airport Hotel, in El Paso. Monday: Participants depart for home. Contact James B. Walker (505-266-1540), Southwest Regional Director, The Archaeological Conservancy, 1717 Girard NE, Albuquerque NM 87106 .  tactours[at]nm.net   tacsw[at]nm.net  www.archaeologicalconservancy.org

 ARO TOURS   Robin and Pam Hogan will soon resume their four and eight-day tours to Mata Ortiz and Copper Canyon, visiting Mata Ortiz on a Sunday, then to Creel, Cerocahui and Urique Canyon by the world-famous train through the mountains for two nights in El Fuerte, where they visit the Capomo and Mayo Indians, then returning to deliver needed items to the Tarahumara Indian School in Creel, and arriving in Casas Grandes Saturday afternoon. Sunday includes a visit to the ruins of Paquimé (1200-1450 AD), once the largest and most complex community in the Puebloan world, the Museum of Northern Cultures, and the historic Hacienda de San Diego. ARO also offers an occasional week-long tour of 6-15 persons to Casas Grandes/Mata Ortiz for cultural and language immersion. This group stays in Casas Grandes in a restored adobe off the plaza resembling a small hacienda and furnished with local antiques, giving a feeling of walking into the nineteenth century. From here they visit archaeological and historic sites, hear a slide-talk by Spencer MacCallum on the early years of the Mata Ortiz pottery phenomenon and the artistic legacy of Juan Quezada, and enjoy a festive evening with live music, traditional food, and local guests. Classes in pottery-making and regional cuisine are available. $650 all inclusive from Silver City. Contact Robin or Pam Hogan (575-534-1600), Tour Leaders, ARO, 86 Valley Drive, Silver City, NM 88061.  robinandpamhoganinfo[at]gilanet.com


AUTHENTIC COPPER CANYON   Dave Hensleigh, besides guiding personalized train and culinary tours from El Paso to the Copper Canyon, offers a four-day Sotol Circle Tour to Janos, Casas Grandes, and Mata Ortiz. Scheduled for October 6-12 and 13-17, this tour features the Don Cuco sotol production (northern Mexico’s traditional drink, several times gold medal winner recently in competition with more than 60 tequilas) in Janos including dinner with the owners; an afternoon and dinner at the 40,000-acre Rancho Uno owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy [The vastness and quiet of this place is breathtaking. There are bison, birds, prairie dogs, plants of all kinds, and all of it encircled in the distance by purple mountains.]; and a day and night in the historic pueblo of Casas Grandes at the colorful Las Guacamayas Inn to see the prehistoric ruins of Paquimé (1200-1450 AD) and the Museum of Northern Cultures; the replicated 17th century Divina Misericordia church with its wrap-around mural covering the entire interior with a depiction of heaven; and the nearby village of Mata Ortiz where artists will invite visitors into their home to see them hand build and paint pottery, then fire it in the open air. $749 USD, double occupancy. Contact Dave Hensleigh (217-369-9897), Owner, Authentic Copper Canyon, 514 South Edwin, Champaign IL 61821. davehensleigh[at]gmail.com   www.authenticcoppercanyon.com


BRIDGEMON CARAVAN TRIPS   Not only have Ron and Sue Bridgemon, authors of The Magnetism of Mata Ortiz (see under “Publications”), led the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s spring and fall tours in the past, they conduct several caravan trips by private vehicle each year to Mata Ortiz. These informal car-pooling tours are an economical way to travel, each paying her or his own expenses en route and, in Mata Ortiz, $80 USD per night for one person or $150 for two. Trips may be three days or four days, the longer trek including the Valley of the Caves and Cueva de la Olla in the Sierra Madre Mountains west of Mata Ortiz. Limited to 10-12 people, the caravan departs from and returns to Douglas, Arizona. At Douglas, they overnight at Motel 6, completing their paperwork at the border in the evening when the port is not busy in order to get an early start after breakfasting at the historic Gadsden Hotel. The trip includes interesting stops along the way such as the sotol distillery and 17th-century Spanish church and archives in Janos and at least two nights in Mata Ortiz, where Ron and Sue have a second home near the Posada de las Ollas. Caravaners have ample time in the village for pot purchases and for visits in the homes and workshops of famous potters. Horse riding is available. As opportunity arises, participation in local events such as weddings, dances, rodeos, parades, or horse races completes the Mata Ortiz experience. Among other points of interest are the ruins of Paquimé (1200-1450 AD), once the largest and most complex community in the Puebloan world, and the adjacent Museum of Northern Cultures, one of the best archaeological-site museums in North America. The caravan visits the historic Hacienda de San Diego for lunch and a tour. Trips are arranged whenever groups of six people or more want to travel to the village. Contact Ron or Sue Bridgemon (520-744-2243), 4545 W. Flying Diamond, Tucson AZ 85742   rbridgemon999[at]gmail.com 


COCHISE COLLEGE GROUP  When the State Department advisories are relaxed for northern Mexico, Cochise College’s Center for Lifelong Learning will resume its several tours a year to the Casas Grandes region, both on its own and providing logistical support for other organizations. Most tours are limited to 12 persons. The groups depart the Douglas campus of Cochise College on a Friday, traveling to the Hotel Hacienda in Nuevo Casas Grandes for dinner and an outstanding lecture on area culture and history. Next morning, they visit an adobe restoration project involving several homes in historic Casas Grandes and then continue to Colonia Juárez, founded by Mormons in the 1880s, on their way to Mata Ortiz for a leisurely time visiting in potters’ homes and workshops, returning by way of the historic Hacienda de San Diego. On Sunday morning, they tour more of the pueblo of Casas Grandes, attending a pottery demonstration with an outdoor firing and visiting the archaeological site of Paquimé (1200-1450 CE), once the largest and most complex community in the Puebloan world, and the adjacent Museum of Northern Cultures, one of the best archaeological-site museums in North America. After lunch at La Finca de Don Cruz, they return to Arizona, arriving at Cochise College in Douglas at about 6pm. Cost includes transportation from Douglas Campus, hotel two nights, meals except for one dinner, entry fees, and lectures. Contact Sharon Gilman (520-515-5382), Director, Center for Southwest Studies, Cochise College, 40-90 W. Hiway 80, Douglas AZ 85607  gilmans[at]cochise.edu   www.cochise.edu/workforcetraining  


FIESTA TOURS INTERNATIONAL   Cathy and Marshall Giesy are well known for their “learning experience” tours to Central and South America. They offer short van tours of either three or four days from Tucson to Mata Ortiz for small groups (maximum of 20 persons, nine per van), staying overnight in the village. These custom-designed tours have a special focus such as photography and sketching, or archaeology and rock art, and are accompanied by an artist, archaeologist or other appropriate person. The three-day tour is $545 per person all inclusive, double occupancy ($85 single supplement), and the four-day tour $675. Next scheduled tours are October 9-12, 2014 and March 13-15, 2015.

     Also offered is an annual Copper Canyon Easter tour March 27-April 5, 2015, beginning with a full day in Mata Ortiz, then experiencing the drumming on Palm Sunday throughout the canyons calling people in for Easter, descent to Batopilas and the famous train ride to the coast, spending the day on Easter among the Yaqui of southern Sonora for their amazing masks and processions. This tour is $2,749 double occupancy ($850 single supplement) and is limited to 16 people (eight per van). Contact Cathy Giesy (voice/fax 520-398-9705), Fiesta Tours International, PO Box 2141, Tubac, AZ 85646-2141. fiestatoursint[at]gmail.com    www.fiestatoursint.com/


GAVILÁN GUIDE AND TOUR SERVICE   John Hatch, of the prominent Mormon family of that name in Colonia Juárez, provides a unique service — arranging small tours that people can plan and schedule for themselves. At a cost of $100 per day plus expenses, he provides transportation in a comfortable, 15-passenger van from Colonia Juárez or any of three border-crossing points (El Paso TX, Deming NM, Douglas AZ), and guides anywhere in the states of Chihuahua, Sonora, and Sinaloa, the last utilizing the Chihuahua-Pacifico railroad. He now offers in addition two tours of three and five days, called respectively “Parrots, Pottery & Paquimé” and “P3 and Pacific.” The first consists of a day visiting the prehistoric ruins of Paquimé, the Museum of Northern Cultures, and some other points of interest in the old pueblo of Casas Grandes; a day at the pottery village of Mata Ortiz; and during season (April-October) a day of birding at Gómez-Fárias, a major nesting area of the Thick-Billed Parrot. To these and other options, the longer tour adds the spectacular train ride from Creel in the Copper Canyon to the Pacific coast, over-nighting in the Spanish-colonial fortified town of El Fuerte and returning to Creel the next day. These tours can be scheduled whenever there is interest, Parrots, Pottery & Paquimé typically running Monday thru Wednesday and P3 and Pacific Monday thru Friday.

          John has traveled extensively in northern Mexico and particularly in the Sierra Madres, beginning as a boy accompanying his doctor father who traveled to remote locations and worked under extreme conditions. He is wholly bilingual and bicultural. Graduating from Brigham Young University, he taught school for 25 years in Colonia Juárez  (ecology, history, English, physics), has researched the history of the Mormon colonies in Mexico, and has guided or otherwise been involved in numerous wildlife and historical expeditions into the Sierra Madre region. Contact John or Sandra Hatch (direct USA line 480-704-4596, Mexico line 636-695-0111, Cell 044-636-102-3526), Colonia Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico.  jandshatch[at]yahoo.com   www.gavilantours.com


GERONIMO EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION   Geronimo has long experience organizing and leading tours for institutions and organizations, among them Elderhostel, which recently changed its name to Road Scholar, and the Amerind Foundation. Contact Carol Moore (520-432-5534), Geronimo Educational Foundation, PO Drawer B, Bisbee AZ 85603.  geronimoet[at]cableone.net


JIM GLENDINNING’S MEXICO   Jim Glendinning leads a five-day tour by van from El Paso to Casas Grandes/Mata Ortiz. Limited to ten persons, they leave on a Wednesday and arrive at the Hotel Villa Colonial in Nuevo Casas Grandes, where they meet popular tour guide Diana Acosta. On Thursday, they tour some restored adobes in Casas Grandes and visit the archaeological site of Paquimé (1250-1450 AD), once the largest and most complex community in the Puebloan world, and the Museum of Northern Cultures, one of the best archaeological-site museums in North America. At dinner at La Finca de Don Cruz, they enjoy a slide talk by Spencer MacCallum on the beginnings of the Mata Ortiz phenomenon and the legacy of Juan Quezada. That and the next two nights are at Las Guacamayas, a bed-and-breakfast and art gallery built using the same construction techniques of rammed earth that were used in the prehistoric pueblo of Paquimé. On Friday, they visit a lapidary in Casas Grandes where local, semi-precious stones are cut, polished, and made into jewelry, then a church with remarkable murals replicating the 17th-century church of a now ruined Franciscan mission. They then visit Colonia Juárez, settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1880s, and have a luncheon and tour at the historic Hacienda de San Diego en route to the pottery village of Mata Ortiz. During the afternoon, they visit in the homes and workshops of pottery artists of Mata Ortiz, including world renowned Juan Quezada, and witness a pottery-making demonstration and outdoor firing. On Saturday morning, the group visits the Arroyo de los Monos rock-art site, followed by an afternoon of rest and/or assisted shopping and personal exploration, and in the evening a farewell dinner. Lunching on Sunday at the famous Pink Store in Palomas, they arrive at the El Paso International Airport by 3pm. $695 double occupancy, $785 single. Contact Jim Glendinning (432-837-7320), 904 N. 11th Street, Alpine TX 79830. jimglen2[at]sbcglobal.net   


JOHN BEZY, INC.   John Bezy is available to guide short educational tours of two nights/three days to the Casas Grandes area. Headquartering at the Hotel Hacienda in Nuevo Casas Grandes, participants learn a great deal about the natural history (geology and vegetation) of the region as well as its settlement history from the Indians to the present. After visiting the ruins of Paquimé and the Museum of Northern Cultures, they stop at Colonia Juárez, settled by Mormons in the 1880s, and learn some of the history of the Mormon colonies. Finally, they visit in the homes and workshops of artists in the pottery village of Mata Ortiz. Cost for transportation is $275; food and lodging, which is separate, runs approximately $170 for two people for two nights. Contact John Bezy (520-825-2451), 64118 E. Meander Dr., Tucson AZ 85739.  johnbezyinc[at]earthlink.net.


JOHN M. PHELAN   John (“JP”) Phelan offers a three-day tour to Casas Grandes and Mata Ortiz for groups of 8-10 people. The tour is sponsored by Senior Circle of Las Cruces, NM. Overnighting in Nuevo Casas Grandes, the group spends the first morning in Casas Grandes, visiting the prehistoric ruins of Paquimé and the Museum of Northern Cultures, followed by lunch with the Acosta family at the historic Hacienda de San Diego. In the afternoon, they visit in the homes of artists in the pottery village of Mata Ortiz and see a demonstration of hand-building, painting, and outdoor firing of pottery. Returning, they tour the Mormon colony of Colonia Juárez, colonized in the 1880s. $495/person double occupancy, $575 single (includes continental breakfasts, lunches, museum fee; dinners and gratuities on one’s own). Contact John Phelan (575-647-2703), Trip Coordinator, 2103 Vista Lejano, Las Cruces, NM 88005.  mpjpmm[at] hotmail.com.


LEE NELSON  does trip planning to the Casas Grandes/Mata Ortiz area for various tour groups. Contact her in El Paso at 915-525-1533 or 915-585-8352. elnelsontx@aol.com


THE PINK STORE  in Palomas, on the border opposite Columbus NM, offers one- and two-day excursions to Casas Grandes and Mata Ortiz for $75 and $140 USD plus meals and lodging, which are on your own. The Pink Store, incidentally, is known for its outstanding restaurant and cocktail lounge in Mexican décor and one of the best selections of Mexican crafts in northern Mexico. Groups of five or more (or less if they’ll pay for the missing persons) can go any day, and there is often a wait list of people who can make up that number. Trips leave on a monthly basis. Contact Luís Benavides or Ivonne Romero at the store (866-474-4299, rings in Mexico, or 575-545-5206; or Mex cell 011-52-1-656-666-0106; or email luisbenavidez75[at]hotmail.com).


RANCHO SIERRA MADRE - ESCUELA DE LOS ARTES   Since 1998, Jim and Jo Jarvis have offered a workshop by Juan Quezada at their working ranch near the Cueva de la Olla in the Sierra Madre Mountains less than an an hour west of Mata Ortiz. This is Juan Quezada’s favorite of his workshops. Here he teaches in eight full days of instruction all aspects of the distinctive Mata Ortiz clay techniques he originated. No previous clay experience is necessary. At the Jarvis’ ranch, which has been in the family since 1886, you will see and experience a lifestyle untouched by telephone, electricity, or Internet (emergency telephone nearby). Extracurricular opportunities include birding, rock hounding (particularly fire agate), and exploring cliff dwellings. Prehistoric rock art, petroglyphs and pictographs, are within a ten-minute walk. Groups caravan from and to Windmill, New Mexico (south of Lordsburg near Animas), visiting on the way the Museum of Northern Cultures at Casas Grandes and the Mormon colony of Colonia Juárez, and stopping briefly both ways at Mata Ortiz. Tuition of $900 per person covers all expenses. Western New Mexico University students in Silver City receive two academic credits for this workshop. The upcoming workshop, for a minimum group of ten, will be late August—early September, 2014 (exact dates to be set), a time when the mountains are their prettiest with wildflowers in full bloom. Contact Spencer and Emi MacCallum (915-261-0502,) or Jim or Jo Jarvis (575-436-2589, Cell 575-538-1854), 36 Ridgecrest Drive, Animas NM 88020.  snjjarvi[at]hotmail.com 


RECURSOS TRAVEL & EDUCATION   Pamela Kahlo-Fina, an exceptional Spanish language educator with Berlitz School of Languages for many years in Spain, New York City and Argentina, is much involved in the village, where she maintains a home and is a longstanding friend of the Manuel Mora family. Once or twice monthly she takes groups on 3-5-day trips from Tucson for immersion in culture and language but frequently in pursuit of other interests as well (Tucson artist Robert Varga, for example, painted several murals of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the interior walls of potters’ homes while practicing Spanish). Custom area tours are also available, guided by Pamela, with lodging in two adobe homes in Mata Ortiz. Language immersion tours are $200 to $400 USD per person, depending on the intensity of the language program. Pamela accommodates one to eight persons per trip, three in her vehicle and the others pooling or caravanning. Contact Pamela Kahlo-Fina (520-327-1087), 3550 Camden, Tucson, AZ 85716  mpmermaids[at]aol.com   www.rtemexico.com/spanish.htm


RIDEMEXICO   Susan Shields, of RideMexico, and Norberto Padilla, of Aventurero, usually collaborate on horseback tours but now offer a three-day auto tour (private cars are welcome to convoy) to Casas Grandes, Paquimé, Hacienda de San Diego, and Mata Ortiz. Crossing at Naco, Arizona, they arrive at Nuevo Casas Grandes’ Hotel Hacienda in time for lunch and an afternoon at Casas Grandes (“Pueblo Viejo”). In the morning of the second day, they tour the Museum of Northern Cultures and the ruins of Paquimé, once the largest and most complex community in the Puebloan world. That afternoon, they visit the Mormon community of Colonia Juárez, colonized in the 1880s, the historic Hacienda de San Diego, and artists’ homes and workshops in the pottery village of Mata Ortiz. $425 per person, double occupancy (single room $75 additional). Susan and Norberto can accommodate 2 to 6 people in their own vehicle. Tours happen whenever there is interest. Contact Susan Shields (520-455-5670) at laquerencia[at]theriver.com or Norberto Padilla Rodríguez at elaventurero[at]hotmail.com.


SOLIPASO TOURS (Birding)  David and Jennifer Mackay lead custom birding tours throughout Mexico. Their five-day Sierra Madre tour, from Tucson in a 15-passenger, custom van, focuses on the old-growth pine forests, high mesas and canyons of the northern Sierra Madres around Madera, two hours south of Mata Ortiz. The tour includes a brief visit to Mata Ortiz on the fifth day. This trip targets the Thick-Billed Parrot, nesting at elevations over 8,000 feet and requiring a specialized habitat of dead old-growth trees for its nest cavities. Other birds in the area include Eared Quetzal, Pine Flycatcher, Spotted Wren, Aztec Thrush, Slate-throated Redstart, Rufous-capped Brush-finch, Black-headed Siskin, Mountain Trogon, Russet Nightingale-thrush, Flame-colored Tanager, Striped Sparrow, Brown-backed Solitaire, Gray-silky Flycatcher and Montezuma Quail. $1225 per person, all-inclusive with double-occupancy (single supplement $230). Next tour September 1-5. Sign up for their email newsletter and see details on their website. Contact David or Jennifer Mackay (520-241-6682), Solipaso S.A. de C.V., Calle Obregon #3, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico (USA postal address: PO Box 85580, Tucson AZ 85754).  info[at]solipaso.com   www.solipaso.com.


TORTUGA TOURS  Pablo Carrillo, Tucson, frequently conducts on request weekend tours of four to six people to Mata Ortiz, leaving Friday and returning Monday from either Tucson or Placitas, NM. (The name Tortuga, or “Turtle,” refers to Pablo’s and his dad Tito’s reputation for driving slowly and safely.) The group arrives in Mata Ortiz Friday afternoon in time to visit the homes of several potters before settling in for the weekend at Casa de Marta, operated by Marta Veloz, one of the best cooks in the village. Saturday is dedicated to visiting artists in each of the five barrios of Mata Ortiz. Sunday morning they visit the historic pueblo of Casas Grandes, where they see the archaeological ruins of Paquimé, once the largest and most complex community in the Puebloan world, the Museum of Northern Cultures, one of the best archaeological-site museums in North America, the MacCallums’ adobe restorations near the plaza, and Galería Las Guacamayas, home and gallery of Mayté Luján. Las Guacamayas is notable for having been built in the ancient manner of Paquimé, using poured adobe, a technique experimentally reconstructed by Juan Quezada. On Monday the group returns to Tucson with short stops along the way. Pablo likes to cross at Palomas and then go west through the scenic country around Hachita, New Mexico, before regaining Interstate 10.  $450-550 per person, depending on the number in the group. Contact Pablo Carrillo (520-250-3115), Box 12322, Tucson AZ 85732.  carrillocurios[at]yahoo.com  or pbc12play[at]yahoo.com   mataortizimportsdetucson.com


TU GUIA DE VIAJE is based in Nuevo Casas Grandes and has a website that promotes “alternative tourism in northwest Chihuahua.” The website was established in 2016 and will expand. Areas of interest, hotels, restaurants, and businesses are listed. If contacted, Tu Guia de Viaje will connect you with guides that are certified by the Ministry of Tourism. Check out the site at www.TuGuiadeViajencg.com.



WILLIAM “BILLY” MARTINEAU  is an authentic old hand in the Sierras, an experienced mule handler. Bilingual and Mormon, Billy is available for camping, mountaineering, knows the mines, old and new, from Copper Canyon northward, rock art, birding sites, etc. Contact Billy Martineau (636-117-0585), Anchita at Coahuila, in Colonia Juárez.




Because of their frequency and the short time allowed in the Casas Grandes area, the following Copper Canyon tour offerings are not included in the above list of tours and companies. They are of interest to our readership, however, because they all either begin or end with a day in Casas Grandes, giving participants the option of coming a few days early and joining the tour here, or leaving the tour here and staying over a few days, to know and enjoy the laid-back attractions of the Casas Grandes region.


Beginning with Casas Grandes



Motodiscovery, the leading worldwide motorcycle tour operator, offers a seven-day Copper Canyon Road Tour. Starting in El Paso, the bikers first visit Casas Grandes (but not Mata Ortiz), then continue to Creel and the Copper Canyon, Hidalgo de Parral, Chihuahua City, and return to El Paso. Longest day 245 miles, shortest 150, total miles 1200. Your own bike, $2249 per person, double occupancy (single supplement $350). Motorcycle rentals available. Contact Skip Mascorro (800-233-0564, 830-438-7744, fax 7745), MotoDiscovery, 22200 State Highway 46 West, Spring Branch, TX 78070. info[at]motodiscovery.com   www.motodiscovery.com


Ending with Casas Grandes:


A CLOSER LOOK TOURS   Agustín Caparros conducts from Phoenix/Tucson a seven-day motorcoach/rail tour to the beaches of the Sea of Cortez and Copper Canyon, ending with a day in Casas Grandes. Departing Phoenix on a Saturday, the group arrives at the Hotel Hacienda in Nuevo Casas Grandes the following Thursday evening. Here they visit the ruins of Paquimé and the Museum of Northern Cultures and witness a pottery-making demonstration. This group does not go to Mata Ortiz. Next tours depart Phoenix/Tucson  September 6, 13, and 20; October 4, 11, 18; November 1, 8, 16, 22; and December 6.Contact Agustín Caparros or his son, Collin (602-938-0951, toll-free 877-938-0951), A Closer Look Tours, Inc., Phoenix AZ  acloserlooktours[at]aol.com  www.acloserlooktours.com


Brendan Tours offers Mexico’s Copper Canyon, a nine-day tour departing Phoenix/Tucson for San Carlos, Alamos, El Fuerte, Copper Canyon, Casas Grandes, and return to Phoenix. They arrive on the seventh day at the Hotel Hacienda in Nuevo Casas Grandes in time for a pottery firing and a farewell dinner. In the morning, before returning to Phoenix, they visit the museum and ruins of Paquimé. This tour does not visit Mata Ortiz. Next tours: September 6, 13, 20; October 11; November 15, 22; December 6; February 7. Book through AffordableTours (800-935-2620).  www.AffordableTours.com


Trafalgar Tours offers seven-day and nine-day tours departing Phoenix/Tucson for San Carlos, Alamos, El Fuerte, Copper Canyon, and Casas Grandes, and returning to Tucson/Phoenix. (The tours are similar except that the longer tour counts arrival and departure days, which the seven-day does not, and includes several additional activities: visiting a pearl farm at San Carlos, seeing indigenous dances at Alamos, visiting a Tarahumara curandero, and witnessing a pottery firing at Casas Grandes.) They arrive in Nuevo Casas Grandes for a farewell dinner at the Hotel Hacienda and in the morning, before departing for Tucson/Phoenix, visit the museum and ruins of Paquimé. These tours do not visit Mata Ortiz. Next tours: September 7, 14, 21; October 19; November 1, 2, 16, 23; December 7.  Book through AffordableTours (800-935-2620).  www.AffordableTours.com



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