As a graphic designer, I am always seeking new things to inspire my work. For me I get that most often from new experiences like traveling to different countries. This last trip was to Bolivia. Bolivia was filled with rich history that comes from its 36 different indigenous ethnicities.
With my background both in graphic design and costume design, I am fascinated by the traditional arts, like textiles, masks and hat. Bolivia with its many ethnics group had it all.
I love the graphic richness in it’s textiles. Each region is different and has different symbols woven into their clothing. The symbols are specific to the region and to the person who will be wearing it. Girls begin to learn to weave as children and their marriage options are based on their weaving capabilities.
In the same way that we see diversity in the textiles across the regions, we see this even more through the varied masks that are used in ceremonial dances. Most of the most interesting masks represent the devil characters.
The hats are also quite elaborate. From beautiful from feathers, to beaded to woven, there is a plethora of different types of hats throughout Bolivia. I have never seen so much diversity in one culture before. Then again Bolivia is made up of so many different groups.
I saw more ceremonial items at the witches market. I felt safe there even though it’s an area where pickpocketers might take advantage of the tourists. What I loved was that most of the stalls were run by woman entrepreneurs called Cholitas. (Which might be part of the reason, I felt safe in La Paz). Cholitas were everywhere selling textiles, offerings, llama fetuses (for good blessings) and more.
Coca Tea and Candy
La Paz is at about 12,000 ft, which for many people means varying levels of altitude sickness. Coca Tea (made from Coca leaves, the same leaves as cocaine) has been a staple in the region for altitude sickness along with sorojchi pills. Being from Miami with its history rooted in the Cocaine trade, the coca museum (and cafe) was especially interesting to me.
Another gem I stumbled upon in a shady part of town was this little coffee shop started by two brothers. I love the design of the space and the presentation of my tea.
Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni)
One of the highlights for most tourists visiting La Paz is the Salt Flats. Before we headed out to the salt flats, we visited a family run salt company. The salt flats themselves were stunning. We played with perspective photos. After we went passed by several lagoons, volcanos and craters. We saw llamas, ostriches, flamingos and an animal that looked like a large bunny with a long tail called a viscacha.
For me Bolivia is rich not only in it’s culture, but it’s nature. Feeling inspired by both.