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Sucre & Textiles • Bolivia 4wd Expedition
|JULY 17, 2006 – MONDAY|
|SUCRE, BOLIVIA – TEXTILE/WEAVING|
World Heritage Site – Elevation: 7,800 ft – Population 210,000
Members of the PanAm 2006 group are:
MOG – Stephen and Judy (Unimog)
MEL – Mick and Mo (Hymermobile)
K-9 – Clive and Ann (Mercedes Sprinter Conversion)
Sucre – The White City. There are areas of the city that h ave to re-whitewash their walls every 3 years, to keep the white at its best. Sucre is the official capital of Bolivia, but the judicial seat, and the real governmental seat is in LaPaz. The Bolivia declaration of independence was signed at the Casa de la Libertad, Liberty House on the plaza.
Part of the group went on the dinosaur track tour. Judy and I head off to explore a list of about 10 textile places she has read about. Michael and Stephen hang at the trucks to tweak on the trucks. Mike went on a hunt for something to make some type of a rock screen protection for our headlights. You can imagine the looks on our faces when he comes back sporting a wire BIRD CAGE!! He was pulling a “MacGyver”, by cutting the bird cage apart to make screens. It was pretty clever, but kind of unusual. We may have to patent this idea!
First stop is the Indigenous Asur Museum and Shop. It is a “co-operative” for the indigenous. This means that where a lot of shops exploit the native weavers and pay them close to nothing, the co-op shops pay about 70% of the sale price of items to the actual weaver. The other thing the co-ops do is to actual seek out weaving villages and nurture them. They are trying to re-vitalize old patterns of weaving from 1,000 years ago. There are certain types of weaving in villages that only the men do. Then there are others that only ladies do, and the girls start when they are about 12 years old learning the patterns and making things like we would call “samplers”. They memorize all of the patterns. (In China the rug weavers had paper patterns that they were following. These weavings are different than in Ecuador. These patterns are woven with a very thin 2-ply fiber almost like a kite string in thickness. In Ecuador they use something more like a yarn thickness fiber up to the size of a roving. The work is absolutely incredible.
The Museum is next, and what a wonderful museum. It is located in an old monastery with very cool architecture. The walls are over 2 feet thick, old clay tile and wood floors, a courtyard with fountain and balconies all around. Each room depicts a type of weaving, costumes, natural dying, etc. Although there was a English translation guidebook, there was too much to read every word, but we skimmed the highlights, but looked at everything even if we didn’t completely understand its significance. There were all types of antique weaving tools, beautiful natural dyed items that were ancient, a display of natural dyes, on and on. On the balcony there were 3 weavers demonstrating 3 different types of weaving: Tarabuco and Jalq’a are two I can remember. All I can say is “very nice”.
As a side note – the restroom was very interesting . . . There was a door opening that signed for Hombres & Damas. But when you went in, there were only 3 stalls together in 1 area!! After assessing the situation and the likelihood of finding another toilet, I made the quickest pit stop on the trip, trying to get out of there before a guy walked into the stall beside me. Again, I guess it is just what you are used to!
Next stop is another co-op, Comart. We buy a few small things and decide to come back here also before 6pm. We decide to skip lunch with the others for the sake of making sure we do not miss any wonderful weaving shops. While getting our bearings for the next shop, we run into the other 6 and decide to join for a quick lunch after all. For $2 we have a “set lunch” almuerza of pickled beet and carrot salad, chicken breast, papa pure’ (mashed potato), vegetables, and ice cream. I only bore you with what we ate so you get a glimpse of the pricing of food here.) We hit the shops on the streets that are selling the average tourist stuff, and find that many have ANTIQUE weavings. Many have wear or mends, but they are very cool. (Some are pretty smelly, too.) We are resigned that unless there is something spectacular, we will stick to the new weavings because there is just not enough time to see it all.
Now that we have visited most of the major textile shops, we return to make our purchases: throw pillow covers in bright fall colors, coca leaf bags, table runners, placemats. Then there is a dilemma: There is a really cool rug that I would really like to have, but can I buy all of this in the 1st week of the trip? It is a green hooked wool rug with llamas on it. Judy assures me that it would be ok to buy it because we won’t be in “textile land” after the next few stops, and the towns get smaller and smaller, with less choices. I like shopping with her. She can help justify anything I like. The rug is mine!
We find out that there is a mirador (I guess not just tower, but any lookout place), about 7 blocks uphill from the artisania shop. We taxi up to save time (and breath), and catch the view of Sucre just as the sun is setting. The white building and cathedrals look spectacular. Of course there are vendors up there, too. We are serenaded by a man playing the ARMADILLO guitar.
It has a name, but I don’t know it. I pay him 2 bs to be allowed to take a pix of his guitar, front and back. In Bolivia, these pests are an ENDANGERED species! Go figure!
Before heading home, we go to the Super Mercado SAS. Surprisingly it has quite a lot of grocery items, it is bright and clean, and even has a bagger boy that will carry out the groceries. Laden down with goodies and groceries, we taxi back to the trucks.
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