She taught me 'backpack' in Spanish.

I have this mochila.  Some women have a signature perfume or a signature hairstyle.  If I have a signature anything, I think this would be it.  I don’t leave home without my mochila.

Long before Dora the Explorer taught children everywhere that ‘mochila’ is the Spanish word for backpack, I had fallen in love with the way that word rolls off the tongue… not to mention I had fallen in love with having my hands free.  Most of all, I had fallen in love with mercados in South America.

My first mochila came from Cochabamba, Bolivia.  I never set out to go to Bolivia.  But in an amazing and fun chapter in our lives, Gary was a great racquetball player who got to play in the World Championships on Team Guam.  We would have gone anywhere in the world for that event… so Cochabamba… here we came!

I saw those beautiful bags hanging from the ceiling of a little shop… the smell of good leather mixed with the alpaca wool… I had to have one.  I wore it for the rest of that incredible adventure, and I was hooked.  On the streets of La Paz and Lima, through the Tiahuanaco ruins, touring Lake Titicaca.  That was 1998, so I guess that means I’ve been wearing the signature mochila for fourteen years.  Wow!  That kind of surprises me.  Time flies!

My mom was with us on this trip.

G already had a great pack.

We always knew we would return to South America, and I’ve mentioned to you before that we headed down there for our 25th anniversary in 2008.  I couldn’t wait to go mochila shopping.  Some cousins put in an order, and when I purchased these in Cuzco, Peru, para mi y mi primas, I paid a small price, and this beautiful young woman made a small fortune that night.  Her hands were shaking with excitement as we made the deal.

I searched high and low in Cuzco.

On another trip to Argentina, I couldn’t wait to get to Recoleta in Buenos Aires to shop for another one.  The mochila from Bolivia had just gotten too old, and the one from Peru has needed lots of my own repair work on the straps.  I’d been told that Recoleta was the place for great leather.  Well… yes indeed… but not my kind of leather.  It was all fancy leather where I was shopping, and I was longing for a wonderful mercado where artisans’ pieces are sold.  I just ran out of time.  That trip supplied with me wonderful wool hats, but I came home wearing the same mochila.

I find myself down here again on this beautiful continent that enchants me so.  And I’m hoping to find the perfect backpack that will last me for the next ten years… or at least until I can come back!

4 Responses to “Mochila”

  1. Marcea Clive says:

    Hope you found the perfect one.

  2. Robin Green says:

    Excited to hear about the trip. . . . and the new mochila.

  3. KIm Mann says:

    Even Grandad knew you as “that girl with the backpack” after he got Alzheimers!!

  4. Sandy says:

    Now that I’m back home, I have officially switched to the new mochila. The larger one was my carry on for the flight home from Buenos Aires, and the smaller one is my new “purse”. I’m delighted! Yes, I am the “girl with the backpack”!

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