Thursday, October 22, 2009
cochabamba and jesus
Cochabamba, Bolivia, is a city of some 600,000 Cochabambinos. They love their plazas and to stroll with ice cream. In my two weeks here I’ve caught many a Cochabambino licking around their dripping cones, tongues sideswiping the colorful ball, twisting it into a new shape.
Cochabambinos have a two-hour lunch – a big fat mid-day break giving them time for almuerzos – lunches involving a good amount of meat. At most hours of the day people are out resting in plazas, walking uneven sidewalks, or jostling along in the hustle and bustle of micro cars, taxis, trucks, Volkswagens, and flashy buses. So many shops and restaurants open onto the sidewalks that they tug at you, and if you’re not careful you’ll be sucked in by the well-stocked pastry cases.
Cochabamba is watched over by a tall white Jesus – Christo de la Concordia – high up on a hill. To get a good look at the city, I climbed that hill recently. The hill is covered with dry land plants – cacti and prickly brush – and reminds me of my New Mexico desert. Jesus stands over all of this and looks out at the city. It sprawls across a valley and creeps up the foothills along the north side toward Parque Nacional Tunari, a bit of protected and still-forested mountain land. Jesus and I could see the stadium, which in a few days time, would fill with Latin American presidents and the populous come to see them. We could see tall city buildings, red-roofed neighborhoods and bright patches of bougainvillea flowers. I lay down on a bench, waiting for my sweat to dry, and thought about how loud the city was – even up above it.
Jesus can be reached by 1,200 uphill steps or a cable car (the teleférico) and he’s open on Sundays (you can go inside)!