Issue - March 2010

March 2010


In this edition, Timothy Hillgarth writes about his interview with the soccer player William Ramallo and his club "Pelota de trapo"; Henrik Beckmann reflects his experiences teaching English at Universidad Mayor de San Simon; Moreover Lena Midrez gives an insight into Cochabamba's new second hand store "Kuriosa" and ultimately Walter Sanchez describes how the Cuellar Lagoon became Stadium Felix Capriles. read more...

March 2010


More than just a shop the second hand store Kuriosa is located in the Avenue Costanera, in front of the Beach Volley.

Lena Midrez
Projects Abroad
Lege - Belgica

Quiet and cozy, the Kuriosa is full of all kinds of objects. From a simple cup of tea to antique furniture, you could probably find anything you need in this atypical Ali Baba’s cave. More than a simple shop, Kuriosa offers you a warm welcome, somewhere you can rest on comfortable sofas and read free reviews, a family space, piano lessons, and an art gallery of local artists. Because of its perpetual change of interior design, the store itself could be defined as a living work of art.

Kuriosa started in 2004 when five Swedish friends decided to create the organization Projimo (from the Bible’s verse: Ama a tu prójimo), whose aim was to open an orphanage in Bolivia funded by money they collected in Sweden. Four of these friends had already visited Bolivia and felt a really strong connection with the country. The orphanage they opened is called Corazón del Pastor and is now run by a Bolivian organization, “Niños con Valor”, but it is still supported by Prójimo. One of the main difficulties is keeping the interest of the forty Swedish godfathers who support the project when they cannot directly see the changes for the children. So, the idea to open Kuriosa in Bolivia, and collect money inside the country where the work of Projimo is led rapidly became obvious.

Many people who come first think I live here, because it is so cozy

Annika Vargas, the store’s manager, is the only one of the five friends who has stayed in Bolivia; “The others work a lot in Sweden to search for donors and raise money. The shop is not yet able to support the organization, so this help is essential. We cannot say that we have started yet, we have not done anything.

This is only the beginning, the idea stage.” Running the store alone from Monday to Saturday, she works for free, and manages to combine Spanish classes during the night with her family life. “I am totally disconnected with money; I never had the aim to earn money. My husband works as an architect, and we have exactly what we need.”

To define Kuriosa as a shop would be terribly simplistic. It is indeed a second hand store where everyone can leave their old and useless belongings, knowing that a percentage of the sale price will be given to a developing and ecological project. But Kuriosa is also an art gallery where many famous local artists exhibit and sell their works. “Even if some people do not have any idea of the price of art and think it is expensive, the important thing is that some of them who have never been in an art gallery come here and discover really good art.”

Moreover, there is a family space organized once a week, where young families, mainly single mothers, come with their kids to find activities and ideas to do together. The pianos come from Sweden and are for sale, but they are also used for singing and piano lessons, and for the concerts sometimes given by nervous students.

The store is more than particular. Converted to look like the inside of a real home, the shop can surprise its visitors. “Many people who come think I live here at first because it is so cozy. Before, there was a room with beds, so I made it like a real bedroom. People were embarrassed because they thought it was my bedroom!” At the beginning, Annika Vargas explained the work of Projimo to each visitor. Indeed, their lack of budget to promote the association commercially means that the word of mouth is important to make sure that people know about Kuriosa and its objectives. Nowadays, the store is used to resell goods: people leave the objects they do not need or want anymore for Kuriosa to sell and 15% of the sale price goes to the association. “I try to explain to them that they can leave the stuff they do not need for free, but so far I have not received any donations. Maybe in time we are going to raise this percentage by explaining our aim to people, they could even choose the percentage they want to give to the association.”

The variety of the objects left in Kuriosa is huge: sofas, chairs, instruments, beds, musical equipment, clothes, refrigerators and bookshelves etc. “Everything. I do not have a limit for what they can bring.” Besides the goods that people bring in, Kuriosa also sells pianos from Sweden, and works by local artists. “Everything in the shop is for sale”.

Before starting any new projects, Prójimo prefers to give the idea of the shop a chance to settle; a second hand store which works for good, supporting both the orphanage and the environment. However, besides the art gallery, the piano lessons, and the quest to find a volunteer to help Annika Vargas in her work, Kuriosa has ideas for future work, including organizing performance nights once a month when anyone could come in the shop and perform, like poetry slam or playing an instrument.

Thus, this multi faceted and curious place which welcomes beach volley players after their game with cold drinks and free reviews in a warm atmosphere is really worth the visit. Indeed, being in this cozy house full of treasures makes you feel as if you were at home.

The Cuellar Lagoon

"April 3rd (1933). Sunday. We went to the movies in Cochabamba…we ate at the club and went to the Cuellar lagoon,…we rowed down the lake singing and laughing, it was a starry night, but there were flashes of lightning every once in a while ". The story from violinist María Luisa Velarde could not be clearer. She notes the presence of Cuellar’s lagoon on the spirit of the young people who used to gather on small barges to row, recite poems, sing in chorus and laugh happily.

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