A Textile Traveler’s Guide to Peru & Bolivia
Once again, I’m enjoying the luxury of inexpensive and comfortable travel as an armchair tourist. I have no worries about boarding the dogs and I can enjoy a home-cooked meal instead of airplane food.
Today’s journey is to Peru and Bolivia and my guide is Cynthia LeCount Samaké via her very portable A Textile Traveler’s Guide to Peru & Bolivia. Samaké is the founder of Behind the Scenes Adventures, a travel company specializing in art and culture. In addition to guiding tourists (the kind who actually venture out of the country), Samaké taught World Textiles at the University of California at Davis and spent more than a decade of research in Peru and Bolivia that resulted in Andean Folk Knitting: Traditions and techniques frim Peru and Bolivia.
Like other travel guides, A Textile Traveler’s Guide to Peru & Bolivia offers advice on safe travel, where to stay and dine, but also provides an appendix with practical information about transportation for Peru and Bolivia, including car services for longer trips, bus routes, taxis, and trains. A useful glossary of terms is provided for Aymara, Quechua, and Spanish, and for travelers who want to actually keep their hands busy a number of workshops with noted weavers Maximo Laura and Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez.
If you’re like me, you’ll probably thumb through the book first to picture gaze at the many exquisite and colorful textiles and then read through the sections that caught your eye. For me, the first “stop” was Lima and become familar with the many museums. The Amano Museum of Pre-Columbian textiles, established by the Japanese-Peruvian Yositaro Amano who had rescued archeological textile that were tossed aside by grave robbers in search of gold.
If archeology is of interest, travel 22 miles outside of Lima to the Pachacamac site and museum. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the site boasts the most important religious and pilgramge center for indigenous people 1,400 years ago. One section of the site is a cemetary containing textile-wrapped mummies of sacrificed women weavers who wove cloth for priests.
Cusco, a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983, has successfully preserved its authenticity by preserving and restoring of structures. An ideal spot to visit for those who want to visit Spanish Baroque churches and other colonial structures. In spite of its popularity, UNESCO has said that its popularity among tourists threatens the preservation of ancient buildings, which in some cases have been altered or replaced by new buildings for tourism and trade.
Skipping over to the section that covers Bolivia, visit La Paz. The city is set in a canyon created the Choqueyapu River. The bowl-like depression is surrounded by high mountains of the Altiplano. Museums to tour include the Museum of Bolivian Andean Textiles, a privae museum started in 1999 by the late Walter Jordan, an anthropology professor with an interest in ethnic clothing. The two floors of the museum display authentically dressed mannequins from the main textile producing sectors of the country and provide rich cultural context.
For shoppers, La Paz offers a huge selection of textiles bith traditional and newer designs in weaving and knitting. Sacarnaga Street is lined with textile stalls and shops luring textile aficionados. Among the many artisan groups located in La Paz is Artesania Sorata, which had been extablished in 1978 by Diane Bellomy who spent 40 years collaborating with Bolivian villagers and city dwellers to encourage women to sell their products. Many of the products made the grioup’s artisans include traditional Andean techniques fused with their own modern aesthetics.
A Textile Traveler’s Guide to Peru & Bolivia is a valuable guide that’s abundant with vibrant photography, enticing textile enthusiasts to make travel plans for the near future.
To purchase A Textile Traveler’s Guide to Peru & Bolivia visit Amazon.com.