Mochilas: What They Are In Colombia, Where I Will Not Be Tomorrow

Yep, this is my final day in Bogotá. What a long strange trip it’s been; deeper reflection later perhaps. I was pondering the past few months this morning as I wandered Septima, drinking mandarin juice and eating some fresh coconut cooked in some delicious sweet something-or-other, but I did have a goal in mind other than the usual ingesting of street food—buy a mochila. (Because it is Semana Santa a.k.a Holy Week, Septima was out in full Sunday splendor. Hence all the food.) In Colombia, these are mochilas:

To the rest of the Spanish-speaking world a mochila is a backpack, but in Colombia if you say that people will think of these. (If you do want to talk about a backpack, the word would be morral.) They are traditionally made of wool by the Arhuaco or Wayuu people, the latter typically being more colorful compared to the former, and are very time consuming to make. The really nice ones are all sort of one piece, the strap is part of the bag and therefor they are suuuper sturdy. They are also pretty pricy—I of course was instantly drawn to one for 200 mil ($112) that I quickly moved on from. Some hunting later lead to more affordable and still nice ones. You can also find very cheap ones that look cranked out by machine and say things like “Te Quiero Colombia,” and with this full range of price points covered it is easy to see why everyone has one. Eeeeveryone, they are ridiculously popular. Mainly with the student-age set I guess, but you also have adults and anyone not currently dressed in business attire with them.

Arhuaco people

They are also the latests and greatest fashion item in the U.S. it appears, which is unsurprising given people’s obsession with “traditional” and “ethnic” whatnot. I hadn’t realized it until looking for pictures online and finding out that J. Crew sold some and they were even featured in Vouge, which noted the, “Added bonus: Proceeds help to support and sustain the community of origin.” Wow, I can look good and feel altruistic? I bet it will even match my Toms! (don’t get me started) Ok so I am kind of being snarky, they are very nice bags and I would rather the people get credit than some factory somewhere start cranking them out—hippies and bohemians just rub me the wrong way sometimes. I also have more white guilt than I know what to do with.

Wayuu style bags

So with that successfully accomplished I returned home to continue the packing fun. This is probably a good point to mention that despite my departure this blog will be continuing, just in a slightly different manner. Manu will keep up Fruit Friday and other Colombia posts and I will keep doing Music Monday from afar, as well as whatever Spanish/Colombia related adventures I have in L.A. (I also have some past adventures to write up.) Either way, there is so much information already here it seemed a shame to let it disappear into the black hole of the internet. Thanks for sticking with us!

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About syd

I like beats & beets
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3 Responses to Mochilas: What They Are In Colombia, Where I Will Not Be Tomorrow

  1. Herman Arroyave says:

    If you get the Jones for Colombian food there are some good restaurants in L.A.

  2. Stas says:

    hey ive been reading your blog and its so cool, Im moving to Bogota too next month!

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