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An hour or so from Sucre, on the road towards Potosí, lies the market town of Tarbuco. Thirty minutes further down the road you’ll find the Hacienda La Candelaria. The market in Tarabuco is a Sunday-only experience but La Candelaria is always an experience a la One Hundred Years of Solitude. Founded in the 17th century, Candelaria somehow escaped total nationalization by the Bolivian government in 1952. Credit is given to the young doña who struck an agreement with the campesinos in residence.



Today visitors can stay in recently constructed bedrooms equipped with electricity and water, although on a somewhat irregular basis. Even a short stay overnight provides a glimpse into hacienda life and its history. Food is prepared in the original wood-fired stove in large ollas or kettles. The courtyard is often filled with local residents selling handcrafted items. A handy pamphlet provided by the management will lead you on a walk through the main house, granary, and family chapel, as well as to the homes of the campesinos who continue to work the land and weave in their courtyards as they have for centuries. The traditional weaving, which was in danger of becoming a lost art, has seen a resurgence in recent years, in part because of support from international development organizations. There are several local textile styles. One of the more striking patterns features bands of white, black and purple with zoomorphic and human figures woven into the fabric. The figures tell a story, or often represent a dream or vision of the weaver. When in residence, the dueña or someone else will offer weavings and other handicrafts for viewing and sale.



The traditional hats are also noteworthy. The hats of Bolivia differ from region to region and frequently signal marital status. In the case of Tarabuco, a single woman wears a stiff cap of sorts decorated with beads that dangle before the eyes.


In a country filled with lively, colorful, and character-filled markets, Tarabuco may be one of the best. The mounds of produce, spices, and talismanic arrangements of llama imprinted sugar rival any other colorful Andean local market. Regional textiles are found on every corner. Inevitably, a visit reveals that textiles are not just for the tourists. The striped ponchos and poncho dresses are worn by many, as are the hats by married and single alike.

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