One sunny Sunday afternoon, we took a field trip down to Bogota's long-established tanning district, San Benito. In a corner cafe we struck up a conversation with Israel Cuesta, a veteran in the Bogota leather-tanning scene. After a few cups of coffee with Israel, we all set out for a tour du San Benito. We strolled around and chatted with leather workers, tanners, shop owners and passing pedestrians (Israel is a popular man). He also took us by his tannery to introduce his family and show us his craft.
Israel married the daughter of a prominent leather family in the small Colombian town, Villapinzon. He and his new bride moved to the big city to start their own leather and suede tannery 35 years ago. The tannery is full of family members doing their part to run daily operations. "I've recently started to teach my ten-year-old grandson about tanning. I know one day he'll take over this business and make us all very proud," Israel told us.
Here's Israel with his son, examining hides: