Thursday, December 15, 2011

La Bolsa Fabulosa

Bolsas as far as the eye can see! 
With Frida front and center, of course.

We've been back for nearly two weeks from nine days visiting our casa and friends in San Miguel de Allende, MX and the days/weeks have slipped by and I haven't written a post for three weeks. The distractions of family, friends and casa projects in that beautiful sunny town had my head spinning too much to settle down and write. Maybe I can blame it on the altitude, SMA is at 6400 feet. Or maybe it was Matt's margaritas. Whatever the reason, I realize I miss writing and posting, so back to it!

As soon as I arrive in SMA I can't wait to walk to the Mercado to see all people, fruits, flowers, crafts and latest styles in bolsas. Bolsas, the wonderful multi-colored woven plastic multi-purpose bags that last forever. I bought my first bolsa in Spain in 1985, a subdued but elegant black and gray striped bag. I've used it to death and it still keeps going. The Mexican bolsa images range from Frida Kahlo, to Pancho Villa to the Virgin of Guadalupe. I guess you know you're an icon in Mexico as soon as they print a bolsa with your image.

Should I buy the one with the beribboned burro, the Parroquia (SMA's cathedral) or another Frida? At 25 pesos ($2 US), I can get them all and fill them with flowers and veggies too. 

In San Francisco, I keep a supply in the trunk of my car and they're always handy. I use them at the grocery so I don't have to deal with the dreaded paper or plastic question. And it's much more fun to carry your goods in a festive bolsa. While in the check-out line, I've often been complimented on how cool my bolsas are and I say, "Thanks! Would you like one? Follow me." I take the person to my car, let them pick out a bolsa and they are so surprised and happy. Ah! The satisfaction of performing a random act of bolsa kindness!

The handiest, most practical bolsa of all. They are large with zippers and are great for storing extra blankets and comforters. Or filling with non-breakable purchases and checking as baggage. 

My passion for buying bolsas exceeds my need or storage space for them, so before I left on one of my SMA trips, I took bolsa orders from neighborhood San Francisco boutiques and was able to buy a multitude of them, bring them back, sell them to the stores and pay for my trip. Having a reason to say "I'll take one in every color" was so satisfying!

A new product! Water bottle carriers. And a study in brilliant colors. 

If you turn right near the end of the Artisan's Market on Calle Loreto and go in the second doorway to a nameless shop you will be rewarded with a bounty of bags made from every pattern of oilcloth there is. "Oilcloth", which is actually vinyl, is another one of my favorite Mexican staples. The colors! The patterns! It's so practical and fabulously fun at the same time.  And best of all, the bags are designed and made in the back of this tiny shop.

The motherlode of fun stylish oilcloth bags.

Mas bolsas! 

There's every size, shape, color and design. 

It started here. My first bolsa bought in Spain twenty-six years ago!


  1. Wow, so uber-colorful! Makes me happy to see the photos.
    Is your Spanish bolsa truly black, gray and cream? Very stylish interpretations, too.

  2. Oh, thank goodness you're back writing again. Oil cloth bolsas, eh? Reminds me that my mom always had an oilcloth cover on the kitchen table, always. So practical because you could wipe it down--no washing and ironing like real table cloths. A colorful post, I can picture your house and car brimming with bright colored bolsas. Bolsas, bolsas, everywhere you look.

  3. I know what I'm going to say to YOU when I stand behind you in a grocery line!
    Those are wonderful.

  4. Great pictures and story... You've inspired me to bring my Frida bolsa out of storage and back into service!

  5. What an incredible bouquet of bolsas! And what a great idea about bringing them back for the SFS boutiques to pay for your trip. Personally, I think they ought to print *your* face on a bolsa.

  6. (7aae4fc4 etc. is me, Denise. Still trying to figure out how to use OpenID with AIM!)