Frequently Asked Questions
Preparing for our tours
Our tours are an incredible way to connect, explore and learn. The women we visit open up their homes or places of business to us, and we have the wonderful opportunity to have a lovely chat with them. Conversations touch on everything from business to community to upcoming events-like a wedding-and are free-flowing and unscripted. Below we've put together some helpful tips so you may be better prepared for our day together.
Where do our tours go?
The communities that we visit on the tour depend on which groups of women are currently in the tour stage of the loan process, i.e. in their second loan cycle or beyond. We generally visit one or two communities during a tour, some of them are well known, like Teotitlán del Valle, and others are less known, like Abasolo. You can learn more about the towns we work with here.These towns are located approximately 25-60 minutes outside of the Oaxaca City center.
What do we see and do?
On the tour, we'll stop in the town centers to admire the daily rhythms of life and the community's beautiful church. Generally, we visit two groups, each made up of three women who are participating in our loan program. Each of the women we visit will present her project —whether its weaving rugs or raising chickens, selling flowers or making tortillas— and explain what she has done with past loans, and what she plans to do with subsequent loans. You will hear about the projects, see them in action, learn about their community, and have a chance to ask any questions about how it all works. We'll also eat lunch at the business of one of the women in our program, either at her restaurant or home, to offer another way in which we can further support our borrowers and their businesses.
What are the mobility and access issues?
Tour participants are not required to walk long distances during the tour. It may be possible that we will have to walk short distances, as we visit a few different houses and destinations in the communities, however, the van is available to transport us from house to house if people prefer not to walk. Please note that sometimes we do visit houses that have driveways or entrances that must be accessed at least partially on foot. We may experience different terrains, including unpaved roads, cobble stone and varying inclines. If you have limitations to your mobility, or concerns about access, please let En Vía know when making your tour booking. Most importantly, we ask you to know and identify your own limitations.
How should I dress and how can I prepare for the elements?
Our tours visit a variety of different homes and places of businesses. Sometimes we find ourselves outside, in unpaved areas, yards where there are animals and equipment, workshops, and sunny spots. We highly recommend that visitors bring a hat and sunscreen. Comfortable shoes are essential, close-toed-shoes are suggested. We strongly advise you to bring bottled water. Spring months are hot in Oaxaca, and proper hydration is vital to enjoying the day. Women dress conservatively in the communities, it is very rare to see anyone in shorts, you may want to consider this for the tour. In the winter months, it tends to cool off in the evening, and we recommend that you bring a light sweater. In summer months from June to September, we often experience rain, especially on afternoon tours, and we urge you to consider bringing a raincoat and/or umbrella.
Should I bring extra cash?
The tour fee includes transportation and lunch. In addition there may be a chance to make purchases during the day. Some of the women have items displayed for sale, including artisan work, as part of their businesses. There is no pressure or expectation to buy on the tour; however you are certainly welcome to, if you see something you fancy! If you do intend to buy, consider taking extra money. Please note that there are no ATMs in the communities, and credit cards are not widely accepted. En Vía cannot facilitate orders or follow up deliveries of products purchased on the tour. Also, having a little extra money with you is useful if you wish to buy a snack or extra bottle of water during the tour.
When will we learn more about En Vía?
Our tours are designed to give our visitors an informative and rewarding travel experience. An orientation of the organisation and program will be given on the way out to the communities in the van. There will be time to ask questions and become familiarized with how we work before we begin visiting with the women borrowers. Throughout the whole tour there will be a chance to further discuss ideas, learn, and exchange directly with the women and their communities.
What language will the tour be given in?
The tour will be given in English, but accompanied by a second guide who will translate the conversations and interactions the group has with the Spanish and Zapotec speaking women.
How many people will be on the tour?
We keep our group sizes small to facilitate a meaningful connection between the women and visitors. The number of tour participants can be between 4 and a maximum limit of 8 people (due to our current sanitary safety measures).
Can children attend the tour?
Children are very welcome to attend the tour. The tour can be a fun and fantastic learning experience for children and families. Parents, please do be aware that it can be a long day for young kids. The tour costs $30.00 USD for children under 14 years of age.
How are we facing the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic?
Our main policy is to be responsible, so we have developed a sanitary protocol to ensure everyone is keeping the official recommendations and we minimize the chances of anyone putting their health at risk. Our partners in the communities have also been part of the process and are aware of the things that need to be done, like stopping handshakes, even if it’s part of their culture. You can find our Sanitary Protocol here.
What will we eat for lunch? Are they vegetarian/vegan options?
We will be eating lunch together at the home or business of one of our female entrepreneurs. We are always offered a simple and tasty Mexican dish, often a regional specialty. There will be vegetarian options available on all tours. If you have a specific dietary requirement or allergy, please let us know when you are booking your tour and we will endeavor to make arrangements to suit you.
Can I take photographs?
We ask that at least one person in our group seeks permission from our host before we start taking photos in their homes. Please be respectful of the women as they give their presentations about their businesses, and leave the photos for the end of the visits. We must also ask permission of other family members. Keep in mind that members of the elder generations might not be as comfortable having their photos taken. In public spaces like churches and markets, it is also essential to ask permission before photographing people.