Bolivian Souvenirs that aren’t an Alpaca Hat or Peruvian/Argentinian Souvenirs

23 Oct

If you’re passing through Cochabamba on the way to the Toro Toro dinosaur park or the Chapare rainforest/coca factory, you may have noticed that Cocha isn’t much of a tourist city. Though there is relief in not seeing another multi-colored hippie pant or alpaca sweater that you have already bought in other South American countries (if you actually want to see more of these, go to la Cancha), you may feel a void for shopping. Fear not, there are many authentic Bolivian products to bring home:

  1. Custom-made leather products: Because Cocha’s economy is cows, high-quality leather is incredibly cheap and common here. You can order any kind of custom-made leather product (laptop bags, purses, belts, etc.) from many stores, including Roger’s located at Ayacucho y Heroinas. Or if you have time on your hands, there’s a mom&pop shop that custom-makes anything from leather called Marroquineria Fernandez. They offer “factory prices.” Telf: 4239551 / 77415380, 76480210
  2. A Cacho Set: Best gift for boys, hands-down.  Who doesn’t like dice games?  You can find these at la Cancha, but if you buy the cheap ones (Bs.7), look inside the velvet interior for glue drippings.  Dice come included for Bs.5 extra.
  3. Valentino Arte & Papel: An artisanal paper-making shop from Santa Cruz. All of their products are from recycled materials. They have incredibly fine craftmanship. You can buy these products and other non-recycled items at Full-Mat (Ayacucho No. 380, esq. Jordán, 4250523)

    Notepad of thick recycled paper

    Inside notepad of rough recycled paper.

    Long awesome!

    Inside of long notepad: the paper is incredibly smooth.

  4. Notepad of rough recycled paper.

    Superman notepad with same recycled paper as the Bird.

  5. Tote Le Monde: The production of this celebrity-love brand is actually in Cochabamba and they take their inspiration from Bolivian designs. For example, the $58 Jackson Tote is remarkably similar to the $2 market bag sold at la Cancha.

    $58 Jackson Tote

    $2 Bolivian Market Bag

    You can also custom-order gorgeous leather wallets and purses here. Address: Calle juan de la cruz torrez #1642 (near muyurina), tel: 4232769/4232682.

  6. Uyuni Salt Rock Lamps: Nevermind the claim that they absorb away the evil magnetic forces from computers, these are extremely cool and at Bs.90 ($12) are a bargain. I wish I had a picture. Sold at Skemas, Plaza 14 de Septiembre #381.
  7. Quien Mató a la llamita blanca? (DVD): A hilarious classic with spot-on political commentary on Bolivia, its racial tensions, the cocaine wars, and its turbulent & confusing regimes.
  8. Comic books in Spanish: After months of searching, I finally found a comics store. They carry everything from local artists to classics (V for Vendetta, Sandman, Batman, Superman) to political comics. Dirección: El Pasaje del correo (Ayacucho y Heroinas) second floor, #89, (594) 4511696,
  9. Guayaba jam, Bolivian olive oil, and other food products: Guayaba jam is a treat. Guayaba anything is a treat. You can buy these at a small window near Santa Clara church on 25 de Mayo and Columbia or the market fair every Saturday at Americas and Villaroel.
  10. Change Purses crocheted from recycled plastic bags: Not to promote a cause, but I am working with recyclers (people who make a living scavenging through trash for recyclable materials) in Cochabamba to hand-crochet artisanal products from recycled plastic bags.  The material is amazing–doesn’t even look or feel like plastic bags.  Below are some pictures of change purses (Bs.8 or $1), but they also make purses and other products.  You can find products at Casablanca or Skemas.
  11. Sombrero de Chola (typical hat in Cochabamba)

  12. Ayni Fair-trade Handicrafts: The most beautiful, unique & creative hand-made artisan products I’ve seen in Bolivia.  They have the usual alpaca bags and cards, but their most special products would be the hand-knit flower earrings from alpaca with silver backs (at $3, it’s a steal) and the cute, freshly-painted miniature animals.  Ayni is located in La Paz, but Tote Le Monde sells their products in Cochabamba.

    Cute llamas w/wiphala, perfectly represents Bolivia without having "BOLIVIA" etched into it.

  13. Beautiful Bolivian-Themed Cards: Santa Clara teaches women who come to their food kitchen to make hand-made cards from recycled paper, decorated with dried flowers placed strategically (a dried rose petals represents a cholita’s body, how ingenius!), and then painstakingly painted with pastels.  It’s quite touching to see the amount of care and pride bestowed on each card.  The women consult each other on each’s card design.  From a purely objective POV (for the record, I have not bought the cards made by the non-profit which I work for, but have bought loads of these), these are the most beautiful cards in Cochabamba and they are reasonably priced at Bs.10 each.  Includes recycled paper envelope.  You can find these at Santa Clara church at the corner of Colombia & 25 de Mayo or if you need further directions, please contact me (

One Response to “Bolivian Souvenirs that aren’t an Alpaca Hat or Peruvian/Argentinian Souvenirs”

  1. L-Methionine November 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

    laptop bags using natural leather is my choice because natural leather is much softer and looks better ;””

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: