Michael: Colombia has some great artisians. you can find items that are not anywhere else in the world. One would be remiss to return home without something.
Graciela: Of course the absolute best place to see and purchase these useful art pieces is at the Expoartesanias. We wrote about it before showing many photos.Unfortuately it comes only once a year in December.
However you do not have to miss out at other times in the year. There is a place that each weekend has many booths displaying colorful and useful truly Colombian crafts. In fact for our last trip to the USA we purchased all the gifts for relatives and friends there.
Michael: The best part for tourists is it is in a gringolandia area so they are use to dealing with foreigners. Your Spanish does not have to be perfect and we found out that many of the vendors speak English. It is in the Bogotá barrio of Usaquen. That district has one of the hotels we recommend and one of our favorite places for lunch
If you stay at Hacienda Royal Hotel or enter the area from the Septima (a major street in Bogotá) you will see some arts and crafts immediately. Some are in tents while others just lay their goods out on the sidewalk.
For the Carpe Diem market you need to walk up the mountain a bit and a few blocks North from the hotel and restaurant. There is a large parking area surrounded by a wall. Go through that lot to the back side and the market begins.
Graciela: Take a virtual stroll with us now to see a few of the vendors’ offerings. Be warned this is only a taste. To really absorb the experience that involves the people, the food, the ambience and a real appreciation of the art you need to come to Bogotá.
Jewelry – Whether it is for yourself or taking something back for your loved one you can’t beat jewelry and this place has it. There are pieces that are similar to those made by the indigenous indians over 1,000 years ago and seen in the Museo del Oro
Or the colorful and intricate bead pieces made today by the descendents of those Indians.
Colombia is one of the major producers of emeralds. Women all over the world love these beautiful green gems. This dealer sells both rough emeralds and polished finished products.
Crystals – Many of the South American crystals and semi-precious stones are used for healing. And this is country that uses alternative medicine. You can find at the market some pieces that can decorate your home or used for healing.
Mochilas – I know people who have come to Colombia and the first thing they head to purchase is one of these colorful bags. There are stories that they are selling in other countries for three to five times their cost here. You can see both men and women on the streets of the city wearing them.
Clothing – One vendor featured clothing for children. Another had some of the packages where full size T-shirts featuring Colombian themes were shrunk to fit in the hand (great for packing in your suitcase).
A favorite was a booth featuring sweaters. There were available in beautiful colors and functional designs.
We have all heard of vertical gardening. Some buildings have done their outside wall with the concept. Here in Colombian not only do we have a hotel that way, but also many restaurants have flowers growing outside. But what about inside. Well, one vendor sold frames with flowers growing in them. When Graciela asked how to water them he showed how a syringe is used.
Wood items – One vendor featured colorful vases, boxes, figures, bowls and fruits made from wood. The craftsmanship in both working with the wood and the application of color is something to marvel at.
Paintings – What would an art fair be without paintings. And yes, they have them. Of course eyes always get drawn to the very large pieces. And a few of them were even paintings of nudes.
Purses – More than one vendor featured purses and pocketbooks. As with much that is Colombian and artistic color is the key. Prices are very reasonable. Take one of these back home and you will have a souvenir that you can enjoy every day.
Lighting – Most unique was photographs of Colombia sandwiched between curved glass to serve as cover for lights. Both the concept and what photos the designer chose is excellent. Such a piece in your home and you can see a part of this South American country every day.
Glass – We are big fans of things made from art glass. While those pieces to look at one a shelf are nice, it is even better to have something you can use and appreciate. And one vendor did not disappoint. Plates and bowls of glass add color to any table.
Toys – Yes, there is somethings that you can take back to the children or grandchildren. Very educational and fun toys is just one of the offerings. The vendor for these wonderful handmade pieces is more than happy to show how they work.
Savings – A way to start those children (and us aldults also) on saving is with a decorative piggy bank.
Bus sign – A remembrance piece that says Bogotá is a must to return with from visiting this very old historic city. There are things like ball caps and T-shirts. But may I suggest a bus sign. The buses in Colombia use these colorful signs in their window to tall potential passenger where they travel to. Slowly these buses are being replaced by more a more modern system. These signs will just be something remembered by the older generation. We have one in our house and I can’t think of anything better to remind you of your trip.
Buffanderia – The tent looked like it was filled with pieces of fabric. But the vendor demonstrated how the buffanderia works. Amazing what you can do with it. But do not take my word for it, just check out this video. And yes, the beautiful young lady in the video was the one demonstrating at the fair.
The above is only a sampling of the many unique, beautiful and useful items available at the exhibition. Really this is something you must experience in person to really appreciate. Hope that you visit soon.
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