Slow Travel Diaries ft. Bohetnika (Part I)
Why to Slow Travel?
To learn, get inspired and connect. I love to travel like many of you, and I am always thinking of ways to do it with balance and positive impact, for people and the environment. My goal is to always improve, but mostly learn from each city, fall in love with their traditions, sightseeing in unexpected locations just to fine pure beauty beyond the traditional tours or following the “places to go”. This time I want to tell you my history behind my journey in Mexico, as a social entrepreneur it means to be conscious about my work, follow passion and love for mi Mexico lindo.
For a week I traveled to visit some important places between Mexico City and the state of Chiapas in the south of the country. My main reason: to connect with artisans, meet with them and start a story together promoting SLOW FASHION through the company I founded with my husband Alex, Bohetnika . Currently my husband and I live in Berlin, I am Mexican and he is German. We both began this dream together in 2016 and now we are increasingly convinced that with this beautiful project we can contribute with a small grain of sand so Mexican artisans have more fair work opportunities.
Bohetnika empowers artisans and brings a curated selection of handmade Mexican clothing. In my opinion, supporting & co-creating with the artisans to sell the clothes they have already made has been the most significant aspect of my life. From 2018 our aim has been to start with the adventure and develop micro collections with custom made details.
Redescovering, connecting for the Slow Travel community.
During the first days of December I traveled alone in my search. I found pleasant surprises, I met and connected with wonderful people. Actually, one of the following projects we have with Slow Fashion World is to connect creatives and conscious citizens with slow travel and local living experiences. This is precisely the intention we aim to do as change-makers of this platform. Slow Travel Community aims to inspire, connect and create positive impact by making conscious trips that connects deeply to cultural respect, learn more about the traditions and how to help them maintain alive, enjoy and taste the local gastronomy and, of course, interact and even co-create with the experts: the artisans that live and work for centuries with Mexican textiles in the South of Mexico.
This time I visited only the state of Chiapas in search of new collaborations with artisans, however, in Mexico City I connected with a very nice person called María, who told me many details about her experience working with artisans.
I also had a couple of meetings with collaborators with whom we are doing as a part of the micro-collection for Bohetnika. For around 5 days I stayed in San Cristóbal de las Casas, a small colonial city with a wonderful mystical and welcoming touch, which invites you to enjoy tranquility in a unique way. (Well, I will omit a bit that in my days there I went through the day of the Virgin which, was not exactly quiet by the numerous processions). Every day there was inspiring.
Here comes my highlights (You can also see them via Bohetnika’s Instagram):
In this big, chaotic but interesting city it is impossible to think that you will make a “slow travel”, right? However, and although it is difficult to believe, the place where you stay is key to feel that way. Just a couple of blocks from the “Zocalo” or main square in the capital, I found a beautiful hostel called “Casa de Pepe” with a very nice atmosphere, an incredible terrace in which I enjoyed my first rays of sun after the harsh Berliner winter, all next to Puff chairs and beautiful cactus. An ideal place for a “digital nomad”. My meetings were held in this place, each of them was delighted by the tranquility and comfort of the place.
After 3 days in Mexico City I headed south, with final destination San Cristobal de las Casas. Here from the first days walking through the small town I fell in love with the new craftwork that is being done in the town. I made my first new friend! Don Esteban, a tour guide who took me to meet the indigenous people and who kindly connected me with Micaela, who came to my hotel to talk a couple days later. During my visit, we arrived at a craftsman’s house in Zinacantán, a town famous for its textiles inspired by the production of flowers which provides a big part the country with this product. Here, I once again immersed myself in the process of the famous way women use their looms, do hand embroidery and of course, they shared a little knowledge with me.
Faustina, a 16-year-old girl was kindly preparing tortillas, tenderly shared with me her desires to know other places in the world.
After visiting the house of these artisans and acquiring beautiful clothes with them, I went back to the hotel. The next day a great friend of mine arrived who agreed in collaborating with me for the realization of a photography session. She is proudly from Chiapas.
For my last day, I met a great craftswoman, Teresa. She told me several personal stories, which are changing little by little the way I see and admire the work of a artisans. She was operated for an injury which has prevented her from continuing to work on her loom. However, thanks to its knowledge of languages, she continues to be a very important pillar among indigenous communities and serves as an important point of connection between designers and artisans.
Last day before going home, and once I left San Cristóbal, I met Karen and Julio, who are the gentle people who is helping Bohetnika with the process of making part of our micro collection. In Puebla, they took already all the disassembled pieces from the fabric I brought in Lithuania and we got started!
One week before in CDMX they were the ones I met first, I gave them the fabric, and the image of the flowers I wanted for the designs so they made the stamp, on top of the stamp, artisans can do their magic! so, there we were, stamping clothes and having fun. To be honest, we were very nervous as well!
I have always said that things happen for a reason, happily, I went home with my family in the north of Mexico, I was so lucky to meet such wonderful people with whom I shared experiences that, I hope in the near future I can share with some of the Slow Travel Community. Share with us your best slow travel experience. Do you want to join me in Mexico Part II? email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lizeth Soto Rivas
SFW Change-Maker & Founder Bohetnika
Lizeth Soto Rivas is the founder of Bohetnika. She has been recently assigned as official guide for Slow Travel Community. She is also behind the movement “Goes Latin” PopUp stores around Europe with events empowering Latin American fashion, and designers.
She is a graduate and expert in Communications, Social Media currently living in Berlin since 2014. Lizeth travels the world creating strong connections and global network. She loves photography, creative art, and have worked in international and local projects connected to artisan empowerment and textiles.
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