9.7.14

The land of Wayuu bags


After a couple of months being 100% dedicated to Pia & the Makers and baby Germán, I finally feel I have some time to blog. I hope you have been following us on Instagram and FB page to keep up, if not, now is a good time to start!

Since I have been receiving quite a lot of mails with questions and concerns about travelling to Colombia I decided to come back with a post on La Guajira, the land of wayuu bags (that are now on SALE on Pia & the Makers). Wayuu bags have become over the last three years in the tribal IT bag, we have seen them in fashion blogs and magazines, worn on celebrities and in the shelves of designer department stores. Yet we know very little about the Wayuu people, who take up to 40 hours of intensive work to make them, or La Guajira -Colombia-, the magical region where they come from.   

 Traveling to Colombia today is as safe as going anywhere else in Latin America. Everything will run smoothly as long as you do not ask for trouble, “no des papaya” meaning this is not the place to wear your brand new Celine bag, or a 6K euro watch. Having said that, La Guajira is one of those places where you have to be a bit extra careful. La Guajira lies between Venezuela and Colombia and smuggling used to be widespread – and with it, violent crime. Less than a decade ago, parts of the peninsula were too dangerous to visit. But Alvaro Uribe’s, demobilisation campaign encouraged local people to find alternative sources of income, including tourism and the recovering of traditional artisanal practices such as weaving wayuu hammocks (chinchorros) and bags (mochilas or susus).

With that in mind I decided it would be a great opportunity to visit Riohacha, –capital of la Guajira- look for real wayuu bags and meet the makers. Somehow we were convinced not to stop in Riohacha and visit the true Guajira by going further north to Cabo de la Vela (Candle Cape) and Punta Gallinas. Punta Gallinas is the northernmost corner of Latin America. They made it sound so beautiful and unspoiled, that we decided to go for it. Plus I could visit the “Rancherias” where wayuu women make the mochila bags. 
Wayuu women in Riohacha selling and weaving their bags
 So, first we got to Riohacha, met a Wayuu artisan in charge of a group of weavers (all women, most from the same family) and got hold of our beautiful mochilas, or wayuu bags. She explained the whole weaving process, the geometric patterns that are inspired in the wayuu culture, how labor intensive they were (up to two weeks of work for each bag) and how cheap Chinese replicas were hurting their business. By weaving bags and hammocks she had achieved a certain economic stability and set an example of hard work and success for her sons and grandsons.

 
We left that same day for Cabo de la Vela and took a road that soon came to an abrupt end and we pushed on a dirt track with no directions trying to follow occasional drivers. For hours. We arrived just in time to see the magical sun set. The cape has a beautiful beach full of intrepid windsurfers and is La Guajira's tourism hot spot. Almost every Wayúu family here runs a hostel, yet it doesn't feel too touristy. We had wonderful grilled fish and went hiking along the beautiful coast line. 

The coast line
Public transport

While wayuu women are mostly artisans, men are fishermen, and raise cattle and sheep
Rancherias, where wayuu bags are made. From the wild west to Le Bon Marché
 
The next morning we got up at 4AM to follow the truck that would lead the way to Punta Gallinas. It turned out that he drove like a mad man and our 4x4 was not as prepared as his to drive through the desert, so we managed to loose him within an hour. Fortunately we had his nephew with us to show us the way in case we got lost. But it was February, just after rainy season and all the paths were erased by the water so we got lost a couple of times too many along the way. I cursed myself for being convinced to go every minute of the journey, no wonder most tours go no further than Cabo de la Vela. We were literally battered for hours by the 4x4 we were in, as we drove along the non existent road to Punta Gallinas. Nothing could possibly be worth such a long and arduous journey. I was wrong. After seven hours we finally arrived at the top end of South America, and the middle of nowhere: a beautiful, ghostly quiet and unreal wilderness.

White dune beaches, turquoise water and nothing else at sight, maybe a few bushes and cacti. That is the land of the wayuu bags.

I will not tell you about the night we had sleeping in hammocks (smelly, cold, itchy and terribly uncomfortable –apparently there is a technique for this I did not know of) nor about the shower on the next day (inexistent). I will only say that those were by far the most beautiful beaches, and landscapes I have ever seen. That the Guajiros, or wayuu indigineous community, are outstanding resilient people. And that I tasted there, in a plastic plate, the best lobster I have ever had.    

Dune beaches

Breath taking views

Our hotel
A better view of the hotel
A lobster for 10USD, rice and patacón side dishes

23.1.14

A beautiful story, a beautiful bracelet ... and a giveaway!



In Pia & the Makers we do our best to look for beautiful products with a story behind. And it does not get better than this. 6 artisans from the most impoverished parts of Cambodia creating beautiful and unique jewelry out of bullet casings and bombshells from one of the most horrifying civil wars in history. 

The social enterprise was founded by Keang Sapbay, a Cambodian refugee who fled the country during the Khmer Rouge Regime and later returned to help artisans in need to overcome the horrors of the war through handcraft and design. Not only did they achieve this, but they also create one of a kind statement jewellery that is both modern and elegant. 

We are giving away one of them. To participate you only need to like us on Facebook (here) and share the GIVEAWAY post in your wall. Good luck!






18.12.13

New in Pia & the Makers


Better late than never. The new navajo weekender bags have just arrived!

www.piamakers.com





16.12.13

El lujo, según Hermes


A principios de año Hermes hizo las maletas y durantes estos últimos meses ha recorrido las principales ciudades del mundo, junto con algunos de sus artesanos, enseñando el proceso de fabricación de sus productos más emblemáticos, como las sillas de montar, los pañuelos de seda o los bolsos de piel.

Desde la casa francesa aseguran que la transparencia es la mejor forma de justificar el precio de un bolso cuyo precio puede fácilmente llegar a ascender a ocho o nueve mil euros. Y es que no sólo se utilizan las mejores pieles y se tratan con el mayor de los cuidados sino que sólo el proceso de ensamblaje necesita dos semanas de intenso trabajo, a mano, por supuesto, y hasta que llega un bolso a las tiendas puede tardar un año. Es decir, no deja de ser un precio prohibitivo para el 99,99% de la población pero el restante 0,001% puede estar seguro de que no le están tomando el pelo.

Pero además se trata de humanizar el lujo, más horas de trabajo hecho con cariño y cuidado, más diseño e investigación en la búsqueda de materiales de calidad y menos Kim Kardashian llevando un Birkin de cocodrilo de 60,000 euros mientras pasea a su retoño. Gracias Hermes.    



11.11.13

Ms Philo's sense of humor. The debate

El sentido del humor de Phoebe Philo pone de moda las bolsas “topmanta”. Para los parisinos y neoyorquinos, más acostumbrados que nosotros a tener que trasladarse al sótano del edificio o a una lavandería cercana para hacer la colada, estas son las “laundry bags” o ¨Chinese bags¨, por su asociación al barrio de China Town. En cualquier caso, una bolsa hecha de tiras de plástico, que, hasta ahora ni le habríamos mirado dos veces es, sin duda alguna, el estampado más deseado, polémico y clonado de la temporada.  



No es la primera vez que chez Céline consigue alzar un artículo, considerado por la inmensa mayoría, como feo o insignificante (o un estampado, que nos recuerda a algo banal y desde luego poco elegante) en lujo. Hizo lo mismo, sin ir más lejos, hace escasos meses con las controvertidas birkenstoks (o llevado al extremo, las birkenstoks peludas). O con las bolsas de papel o “lunch bags” hace algunas temporadas.   



Reinventar es, sin lugar a dudas, una forma más de creatividad. A mi personalmente me parece genial el reciclar ideas y reconvertir hasta artículos que pueden tener una connotación negativa (véase el topmanta, o las bolsas de papel que también sirven para tapar las botellas de alcohol). Pero deberíamos de poner un límite? Hasta la blogera más famosa del DIY, a pair and a spare  ha considerado que el caso del estampado topmanta puede ser una falta de respeto hacia las personas que las utilizan en su día a día y se ha resistido a hacer una de sus geniales interpretaciones de esta tendencia (post muy recomendado, aquí).

Para las que no consideren que sea para tanto, os dejo un post de otra de mis blogueras preferidas, You Make Fashion, que, lejos de replantearse dilemas éticos con el nuevo estampado, se ha lanzado al DIY sin contemplaciones:



OPINIONES???? COMENTARIOS????

3.11.13

Globetrotter tips by CRISCRASCRUS


Cristina autora del maravilloso blog CRISCRASCRUS, no solo es la diseñadora gráfica con el blog de lifestyle más molón del lugar. También es una viajera empedernida que nos ha regalado unos minutillos para contarnos cómo viaja, sus trucos y consejillos para aprovechar al máximo y volver a casa con experiencias inolvidables y souvenirs y regalos imbatibles.   

Me encanta viajar porque creo que es algo que te enriquece mucho, las experiencias que vives viajando y conociendo otros lugares son únicas.
No me gustan nada de nada los viajes de pulserita, playa y todo incluido ni los viajes de circuitos organizados en los que van todos como borregos, mucho mejor tener libertad para descubrir lo más auténtico de los sitios. Ah! y odio las fotos típicas "sujetando" monumentos...
Ojalá pudiera visitar todos los lugares del mundo pero los sitios que más me apetece visitar ahora mismo son Cuba, Argentina y Rusia. 

ASM Gran Bazar o Bergdorfs and Goodman?
CCC Gran Bazar para encontrar cosas mucho más originales y únicas.

ASM Lonely Planet, guias Phaidon o buscar recomendaciones en foros de internet?
CCC Recomendaciones en internet, descubres un montón de cosas que no salen en las guías y que son muy interesantes.

ASM Toblerone en el Duty Free o te pasas horas recorriendo tiendas en busca un regalo autenticamente local? 
CCC Sin duda pasarme horas recorriendo tiendas en busca de un regalo auténticamente local. En Japón me hartaba de ver cosas "made in China" y al final encontré los souvenirs perfectos en un pequeño anticuario de Shimokitazawa. (Se trataban de unas "Kokeshi")

ASM Viajar de tirados o un hotel de 5 estrellas?
CCC Me gustan unas ciertas comodidades y cuanto más chulo sea el sitio mejor, pero tampoco me hace falta ir a todo lujo.

ASM Buscarse la vida sobre la marcha o tener planeada hasta la reserva de la cena del ultimo día?
CCC Esta también fifty-fifty, mejor llevar una ruta marcada y cierta organización pero dejando espacios para improvisar y descubrir otras cosas o cambiar los planes según convenga.

ASM Ensalada cesar y club sandwich o comida local?
CCC Comida local sin dudarlo! La gastronomía te permite conocer mucho y disfrutar aún más de otras culturas.

ASM Viajar cargados o con maleta de mano?

CCC Maleta de mano y no muy llena para traerme un montón de cosas!

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Cris from the beautiful blog CRISCRASCRUS is an avid globetrotter kind enough to spend a few minutes with us to launch the new A Style Manifesto segment of how our most stylish bloggers travel the world and their ultimate tips for you to enjoy and bring back the best experiences and souvenirs!

I love traveling because I think it is something that greatly enriches us, the experiences you live traveling and knowing other places are unique. I do not like organised tourist circuits, it is much better to have freedom to discover the most authentic sites. I wish I could visit all the places in the world but right now Cuba, Argentina and Russia are on my wish list.

ASM Grand Bazaar or Bergdorf and Goodman ?
CCC Grand Bazaar to find things much more original and unique.

ASM Lonely Planet, Phaidon guides or finding recommendations on Internet forums ?
CCC Recommendations on the internet, you find a lot of things that are not on the guides and they are very interesting.

ASM Toblerone at the Duty Free, or do you prefer to spend hours scouring local small shops for  the perfect authentic souvenir?
CCC certainly spend hours looking for something local and authentic. In Japan all I saw was made in China but I finally found the perfect souvenir in a small antique shop in Shimokitazawa . ( a " Kokeshi " )

ASM Backpacking or 5 star hotel?
CCC I certainly like to have certain amenities and stay in nice hotels but I do not need to go into luxury.

ASM Caesar salad and club sandwich or local food?
CCC of course, local food, I find it another way of enjoying other cultures .

ASM Travelling loaded or hand luggage ?
CCC suitcase full hand and not to bring me a lot of things !