Colombia: Colours and Adobe Architecture

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Two cyclists in a street in Cartagena on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Photo courtesy of Natasha Mellersh.

I recently visited Colombia and was amazed at the astounding beauty of the country. It’s huge, diverse culturally, ethically and geographically it connects Central and South America. One side of the country is on the Pacific Coast, the other on the Caribbean and the climate seems to change dramatically depending where you go.

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A street in Cartagena. Photo courtesy of Natasha Mellersh.

What struck me as soon as I arrived, apart from the people being incredibly lovely and welcoming, was the old colonial architecture. The adobe style houses are prevalent in the old towns of many Colombian cities. Built in the typical Spanish style, they ooze character and simplicity. The thing that separates them from European buildings however is their vibrant colour.

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A street in Cartagena. Photo courtesy of Natasha Mellersh.

Walking through the gorgeous streets of Cartagena’s old walled city, I was blinded by bright blues, pinks, neon greens and orange. The abundant green creeper plants blossoming in pink and violet only added to the mix.

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A street in La Candelaria in Bogota. Photo courtesy of Natasha Mellersh.

In Bogota, among the low hanging clouds and the towering lush green mountains, the old town – La Candelaria is filled with street art and colour. The city is gigantic but wandering through the little cobbled streets of La Candelaria you would hardly realise. Old churches and small cottage style adobe houses create an atmosphere which feels a lot more like a village than a city of 10 million. The colours and street art show that creativity and art is rife in this amazing city.

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An old church in La Candelaria. Photo courtesy of Natasha Mellersh.

Going there for a holiday simply wasn’t enough, I realised it would take several visits and a number of months to get a real feel for this beautiful country. So I decided I would have to come back.

A street in La Candelaria

A street in La Candelaria. Photo courtesy of Natasha Mellersh.

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The Barber: Metal Sculptures Cartagena – Colombia

A metal sculpture depicting a barber with a barber shop chair in a square in Cartagena’s old town in Colombia.
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Around the World in 80 Chairs: Wooden Chairs, Cinto – Colombia

Wooden lounge chairs turned upside down in order to clean the floor in Cinto, Tayrona National Park. Cinto is a small secluded beach in the national park on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, it is only accessible by boat but is a picture perfect paradise.

Wooden Lounge Chairs, Cinto - Colombia

Wooden Lounge Chairs, Cinto – Colombia

Cinto, Tayrona National Park - Colombia

Cinto, Tayrona National Park – Colombia

View of the mountains in Cinto, Tayrona National Park - Colombia

View of the mountains in Cinto, Tayrona National Park – Colombia

Cinto, Tayrona National Park - Colombia

Cinto, Tayrona National Park – Colombia

Nahui Ollin – Unique Recycled Style

Nahui Ollin bags are made from recycled materials. Every bag is unique and is constructed from old sweet wrappers, newpapers, barcodes, magazines or bottle labels. Nahui Ollin is inspired by ancient South American traditions and mythology.

The bags are crafted using  ancient Mayan weaving techniques. It can take up to four thousand sweet wrappers and as long as four days for an individual artisan to make one bag.

Their unique process ensures that no two bags are the same and despite being made from paper wrappers and labels, they do stand the test of time and weather for tear-free, long-term durability.

Each bag is hand-made from around 1500 individual wrappers and follows a process of folding, weaving and sewing each one into place – sometimes taking up to three days to make. Being that the wrappers are put into place one at a time, each bag is produced in its own colour scheme and pattern, insuring that it is one-of-a-kind.

Although you may expect most Nahui Ollin bags to be colourful and cute, aimed more at young teenage girls than grown women, you’d be surprised at how diverse the range of bags are. There is a huge variety in shape, size and style of these unique bags, whether you are looking for an evening bag, a bag for grocery shopping or a smart bag to wear to the office.

Nahui Ollin is also the name given to a famous Mexican artist’s model Carmen Mondragon by Gerald Murillo (also known as Dr Atl) with whom she had an intense love affair. He named her after the symbol of Aztec renewal meaning “four movement” – the fifth and last epoch and the sun of earthquakes which will result in the extinction of the human race.

Carmen Mondragon also known as Nahui Ollin, this photo also shares a close resemblence to the Nahui Ollin logo.

“According to Mondragón’s own writings, Nahui Olin is a cosmogonic name that signifies the strength and the power of the movements that emit light, life and force.” The Fiery Spirit Of Carmen Mondragon

Nahui Ollin seek to remain ethical as well as sustainable in the production of their goods, ensuring they stick to Fair Trade and Sweatshop free practices in Mexico.

Their growing family of upcycling partners such as Tootsie, Disney, Hershey’s, pez, and Target has allowed them to create a cottage industry helping to support local artisans. The bags are a stylish alternative to the  handbags made by the big designers, they are ethical, sustainable  and you will be sure to have the only one of it’s kind as each bag is individual.