Bolivia Today Headline
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The celebration of dead is a big thing in all of Bolivia. In Cochabamba it has a large impact specially in the countryside. All saints day takes place on the first of November, which is the date on which the spirit of the dead returns to earth to meet with their relatives and taste once again what they enjoyed on earth, food and drinks.
On midday of the first of november the gates of heaven are open so that the dead return to earth, where they will remain until midday of the second of November. Families and friends of the deceased usually prepare a table filled with a special bread called "tantawawas", it also has fruits, candies, drinks and the photographs of their dead relatives, so that they are able to come and share for a while these things. All these prepartions are made in the home of the families and afterwords they go to the cementery where their relatives are buried taking with them the different "offerings". In the cementery you will find children singing and praying for the souls, if you give them some money or some food they will pray or sing for your dead relatives. In some places in the rural areas the bones of dead relatives will be taken out of the ground so that they receive the offerings in a more direct way.
All saints ratifies the Andean balance between the living and the dead. The dead or rather, the spirits watch over their living relatives an these must respect their memory and honor their memories. The breads, candies and drinks – specially the chicha- are food that can be good for the dead in certain special dates like this.
The three-value andean logic also has a role in the collective imagination, due to the fact that spirits live in a world where no past, present or future exists. The circularity of time makes then come back every year to the place where they once lived. Sometimes they forget to return. That’s why in the countryside sometimes a puppet made of leaves is created and hit with sticks so that the spirits don’t forget to go back to the heavens.
The date of all saints takes place during the end of the agricultural year which started in May with the festivity of Santa Vera Cruz. It is the time when the land must rest after having provided their fruits which are later harvested.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Our main square was remade in 1838, it has four different levels and columns of doric and jonic styles. It is a mixture between barroque and neoclasi styles.
In the center of the square there is a large column called the Column of Heroes or Column of Liberty which has a condor with its wings extended on top. There is also a water fountain surrounded by palm trees, the main square is a point of interest you should visit if you are in Cochabamba.
You will also find that in the main square of Cochabamba there is always someone preaching about the end of the world or carrying on a show to sell something, there are also presentations or exhibitions and other cultural activities.
En el centro se observa un enorme enfilado de cemento ,estilo Corintio, conocido como “Columna de los Héroes” o “Columna de la Libertad” en cuya cúspide se yergue un cóndor con las alas extendidas.La fuente colonial que salpica humedad a su contorno, es una de sus reliquias bien conservada.Rodeada de palmeras, y vistosos jardines con árboles ornamentales, la Plaza 14 de Septiembre ofrece un ambiente digno de ser visitado.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The story of this "Christ of Unity" starts with the request of many people in Cochabamba to have a large statue of Christ made and placed on the top of the "San Pedro" hill. It was sculpted by the cochabambine artist Cesar Terrazas Pardo, who described in his statue a gentle face with a fatherly atitude.
This is the largest statue of Christ in the world, with 40.44 meters, incluiding the base where a museum is found. The total weight of the satue is 2200 tons and the statue is found at 265 meters over the level of the city. Cochabamba is a beautiful sightsee from the place of the statue, offering the tourist a beatiful sight of Cochabamba, which is even better at night.
You can reach the top of the hill and visit the museum in the base of the statue, or climb in the insides up to the level of the arms. To get to the top of the hill there are stairs, a dust road for cars and a skyride(temporarily out of service).
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Situated on the "14 de Septiembre" Square, it is in the center of the city and main attraction. It has recently been given the rank of "metropolitan”. It was built in 1735. Its portal is made of three bodies with solomonic columns which guard the gate, to the sides we find wallboards and ornaments of “mestizo” style on the crowning. The portal rises between two strongholds that seem to be ready to receive an arc.
An arc gallery, from the beginning of the century, covers the lateral part of the 14 de Septiembre Square revealing only the header which rises between two strongholds that seem to be ready to receive an arc. A gallery of arcs which come from the beginning of the century cover the lateral part of the 14 de Septiembre Square and reveal only the portal of the header, which rises twords the Esteban Arze street.
Around the square we find several buildings from the republican period.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
There -by the end of the XVIII century- participate the natives, farmers and people from the town (Cercado) giving place to informal economical interrelations.
The true way of thinking of valley people is shown in their capability of bargaining and thus achieving a good “yapa” (something more).
It is the main marketplace of Cochabamba, found in the south part of the city. There specially of wednesdays and saturdays, we can find the biggest variety of products: agricultural, foods, clothes, luxury, handicrafts, etc.
Found near the Cancha. It offers a variety of products agricultural and foods, being the main ones the commerce of grains and flowers.
In several places in the city we can find handicraft manufacturing, with a variety of products which identify all the regions of the country and specially Cochabamba. You can find a variety of wool and cotton textiles: from sheep, llama and alpaca. Other than musical instruments typical of our land and beautiful works in ceramics and leather. Another traditional handicraft production, which is kept up to our days. This delicate work is done on silver and other expensive metals specially on gold and tin. The main handicraft markets are: the SAN ANTONIO MARKET on Esteban Arze and Punata Streets, and the "JOAQUIN ZENTENO ANAYA” alley between Baptista and Ayacucho streets (in the downtown area).
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I wanted to comment about an environmental situation we have had in Bolivia during the month on October. This had to do with a very large and unusual amount of fires i the forests here in bolivia, specially in the valleys and east part of Bolivia (since the highlands don't have any trees or forests left).
For several weeks we had fires which were causes by people (mainly small farmers and immigrants which move from the west to the east of the country, looking for better conditions to live) applying the slash-and-burn tecnique to prepare the land for later seeding.
This slash-and-burn smoke is not unusual, since this is done every year but this year it has had huge dimensions, possibly caused by the draught which persists in serveral areas of our country and other reasons which I will not discuss here since they might be of political roots.
Almost all the country was covered by smoke and in Santa Cruz smoke was so bad they had to close the airport and people could barely see beyond 100 mts. Health problems, accidentes and many other consequences of the smoke.
All has not been bad, however, people have realized the terrible efects of destroying nature, in other words, destroying ourselves. Sounds primitive, but in a country where time is still considered in the cosmological sense; day/night-summer/winter-life/death, this is an everyday reality.
Anyway, be for ignorance or be it for greed (since it's not only the poor who have caused the fires). Our country was covered by A LOT of smoke, my kids had allergies and were coughing for weeks, and I still have a annoying cough with no other symptoms.
I included a map published by El Deber newspaper a couple of weeks ago, shows the extent of the fires. I also included two links of newspaper articles which analyzed the subject:
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The traditional Cochabambine drink is the CHICHA . Historians have determined its origin to the Inca period, much before the arrival of the Spanish. The chicha through its history - especially in the XIXth century and beginning of the XXth century- has been one of the prime factors of the regional economy. A great quantity of corn is produced in the valley, whose elaboration ends up as the chicha. The consume of which is generalized in the rural sectors and, in the city -even though it has decreased notoriously- many places sill have the habit to sell it in jars, pail and/or "tutumas" (an object with a half-a-coconut-shell form).
Elaborated using chicha, you add cinammon ice cream to make it sweet and tasty.
Grape juice ferment which is buried in jugs for some months. Once unearthed, the drink has a high alchoholic level. Two glasses of guarapo are enough to get anyone drunk.
The Cochabambine production of beer, made with wheat and water from the mountain range, began in the first part of 1893, instrialized by the Taquiña factory, installed at the feet of the Tunari mountain range.
It came forth as a "modern, hygienic and civilized" alternative to chica, nevertheless it wouldn't become popular until the 70's. In 1897, due to the difficulty to import glass bottles, it started to be sold in barrels. In some place the well known "chops" were installed, which gave place to a new characteristic for Cochabambine beer consumption. You can still find one of these barrels in “Chop Comercio” on Jordán Street.
It's a traditional refreshment done out of dry peaches. You can find it cold and at a low price in all the marketplaces and almost all the corners downtown.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
1 Kg pulp meat
½ pound of soaked chuño (a naturally dried potatoe, to the point it looks burned)
2 or 3 pounds of potatoes (normal ones)
2 boiled eggs (hard)
1 small cheese
¼ pound of grinded red hot pepper (ají)
½ pound of rice
3 onion heads
1 complete carrot for the broth
2 parsley branches for the broth
½ cup of oil to boil the hot pepper..
You roast the sliced meat so that it is easy to mix it with the other ingredients; this meat must cook with a whole onion, one carrot and two small branches of parsley, salt and pepper. When the meat is half cooked, add the chuños cut in half or in one piece, then the rice; once this has boiled you add the potatoes. Meanwhile you can boil the grinded hot pepper, without onions, in oil with a bit of broth. Separate the broth were the meat, chuño and potatoes were cooked, choose the meat and serve in the following manner: in a dish put a piece of meat, chuño, potatoes, cover with rice, place some slices of boiled eggs, slices of cheese, the hot pepper, and on top of everything, a raw sauce made with sliced onions, tomatoes and quilquiña (local spice).
It is typically said of the people of Cochabamba that they don't eat to live but rather live to eat. This has a basis on the food habits of many Cochabambinos who, if they have the money, can eat up to five times a day. Breakfast, midmorning snack, lunch, midafternoon dish, dinner.
The lake was created for the hidroelectrical plants of Santa Elena and Santa Isabel, which provide electrical energy to a large area of Bolivia. The blueish and clear water characteristics of the lake, give it a unique trait, when compared with the surroundings of the highland desert. Because of the trouts and pejerreys (local fish species) and because of the palmiped birds, you can enjoy hunting and fishing.
In the banks of the lake we find the Touristic Center of “El Poseidón” which offers different services: restaurant, cabin renting, and hikes on boat and horse.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
But the coca doesn't limit itself to just the growth of the same, but brings with it many legal and illegal activities which happen within the same area and which have recently shown a very important growth of the importance of the coca, with respect to the established and introduced crops.
The region which is commonly known as “Chapare”, is in reality made up by the lower amazonic regions of three departments of Cochabamba (Chapare, Carrasco and Tropical Tiraque).
For the last years the name of Cochabamba Tropics has been used more frequently to name this region since it doesn't only refer to te province of Chapare but of three provinces.
This zone is limited by other provinces of Cochabamba (to the south and west), by the “mountain ranges” found from 2.500 to 3.000 meters over sea level. Its natural limit with the Department of Santa Cruz (to the east) is the Ichilo river, and with the Beni Departament (to the north) is the the Secure river (which is still not well defined). It has an approximate extension of 24.500 square km.
The Chapare of tropics, have different characteristics to those which are presented in the valleys or lowlands. The region doesn't only have its own ecosystem, or amazonic and tropical characteristic, but is also negatively characterized by the general production of the coca leaves and specially cocaine.
According to the census of 1992, there were around 40.000 families, with a total of 137.000 inhabitants. Nevertheless the estimations about the total population of the Tropics of Cochabamba have been very contradictory, due to high level of inmigration. An estimate coming from the census of 2000 place the population for 2007 in around 350,000 inhabitants.
Chapare based its productive activity almost exclusively on the agricultural production. The most important crops are coca, bananas, rice, citrics, pineapple, papaya, etcetera. Now however, it's coca leaves again which have retaken their main role as the principal product of this region.
We can also highlight the importance of lumber companies, which are nevertheless causing damage to the ecosystem due to lack of control and uncarefulness by part of the companies and of the government which doesn't enforce policies of forest protection.
During the year 2007 illegal activities in the chapare, related to cocaine production, have provoqued an economical boom not only in this region but in all the department of Cochabamba. It is very difficult to have real numbers of all of this but the real estate situation in the city of Cochabamba is a good indicator of the magnitude of the economical input these activities are having on the local economy. Building are constantly being built and apartments and houses purchased overnight, providing a healthy economical status to the city but with a very dubios fund origen.
The chapare as stronghold of MAS (movement towards socials), which is the political party in government, has quite some attention from the government. This has also causesd a positive impact on the economics of the region, and will most certainly increase due to the projets which have been promised by the government to start in short term (oil, hydroelectricity, petrochemical. This will further impact the realit of this region and probably push it to grow in importance and influence.
Follows a map of the province:
Sections of the Chapare Province (Capitals)
1 Sacaba (First Section)
2 Colomi (Second)
3 Ibare (Third)
4 Villa Tunari (Fourth)
5 Lava Lava
11 San José
Monday, October 08, 2007
Incachaca or “Inca Bridge” is found at 93 Km. from the city of Cochabamba. Following a detour off the road which goes to the Chapare, at the height of the town of Paracti in kilometer 62, we can reach this beautiful historical and arqueological place. Here we find the first electrical powerhouse there was in Cochabamba.
It has a incredible natural beauty with a hot climate, Yungas vegetation, a temperature of 25 ° celsius and strong rain. The crystal clear waters of the Alisu Mayu River slide sideway, thus eroding the rocky bed and creating gorges, tunnels, underground falls and rock formations, thus originating the "Devil's Window and Throat” to finish in a type of still pool called “El Baño de la Ñusta”. Short walks can take you to interesting places like: a hanging bridge over a deep gorge, beautiful waterfalls, impressive rock formations and other beutiful natural places.
It is a beautiful ecotourism park close to Villa Tunari. It has 36 ha. With a tropical mountain forest vegetation which holds close to 120 species of trees. Its fauna has also a variety: parrots, badgers, mountain lions, 3 species of monkeys and others.
A pathway of 3.2 Km. , describes the complex ecology of the Park and the Chapare, on it border we can see beautiful sights of the oriental parts of the Andes.
In this park the ecological group "Inti Wara Yassi" has a program of readaptation of animals to the environment, after rescueing them from captivity. Many foreign volunteers work there, since it is a unique opportunity for animal lovers.
More info on this program:
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
This is the touristic center of the Chapare, where we find the biggest town of the tropic. It is located at the feet of the mountain chain of the Andes, in an island-type place between the rivers San Mateo and Espíritu Santo; at 160 Kms from the city of Cochabamba and with a yearly average temperature of 30°C.
At Villa Tunari we can find modern and comfortable hotels, roads and communications posts. It offersa variety of attractions and touristic activities: swimming in natural crystaline water pits, hikes through paths where you can appreciate the local flora and fauna, canoe trekking, river fishing and visits to different natural attractions like the national parks, ports, native tribes, etc.
I include some photographs of the Chapare:
FESTIVIDAD DE LA VIRGEN DEL AMPARO
Date: October 30 and November 1st
Sacaba is a small town to the east of Cochabamba, it is the capital of the Chapare province, which is to the northeast of Cochabamba. See the photograph:
Ok, now to the Festivity:
It starts with a party (verbena) which continues on the next day with a mass followed by a parade where the statue of the "Virgen de Amparo" or Virgen of Amaparo is taken through the streets of the town accompanied by folcloric dances. The following day there is a calvary (like I explained previously in the Virgen de Urkupiña) and the traditional ch'alla (blessing from mother earth) which is provided to different objects. In this case there are no special rocks which are used to achieve the desired object, like in the case of the Virgin of Urkupiña.