Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 3: Sucre's Surprise for Me

Today was the big day: I went out into Sucre to do some sightseeing alone!  After talking with Nick and Susan last night, my plan from yesterday changed a bit, but I was excited to be on my way.  I set off around 8:45 a.m., armed with my map (which I didn’t need because I had memorized it), my Bolivianos, and my camera.

First up was El Museo Charcas Colonial Antropológico.  This is the museum where the Miguel Berrío Gaspar painting of Potosí is housed.  Nick informed me when I arrived that, unfortunately, the painting was on loan to Spain (of all places, the painting of Potosí went to Spain?!).  So I went to the museum anyway to check out some of the other amazing pieces there.  I walked through the archeological works first.  There were gorgeous pieces of pottery, hand carved tools and weapons, and beautiful pieces of jewelry.  I moved onto the mummy room, which was grotesque but very cool at the same time.  From there, I walked through a hallway that displayed all of the typical dress throughout the years, which hasn’t changed much – very colorful, hand woven, mostly woolen and animal hide garments.  I descended to the area with all of the religious paintings and colonial furniture.  The furniture had so many ornate details, just absolutely stunning (although, some of those details would require daily dusting, which I will pass on, thank you very much).

Then, as I walked from Room IV to Room V and made my way up to Berrío’s room (already expecting an empty space on the wall), THERE WAS THE PAINTING!  Many of you who are familiar with my research already know about this painting and have seen it.  For those who don’t know what I’m talking about…Berrío painted an image of Potosí in approximately 1706 that shows, in great detail, an aerial view of the city while the amalgamation process of refining silver was in full swing.  I had ever only seen pictures of the painting (and not quite all of it, from what I learned today) so seeing in person this painting that has had such an impact not only on who and where I am today, but the hundreds of thousands of lives in Potosí throughout the last 500 years, was just indescribable.  This was most definitely the highlight of my day.

Already knowing that nothing at the other two museums could top seeing the Berrío painting, I moved on to Casa de la Libertad, which houses a lot of the political history of Sucre.  It was a pretty small museum, with only three or four display rooms, but still interesting.  There was an incredible old piano in one of the rooms that I enjoyed seeing.  After Casa de la Libertad, I walked over to El Museo Eclesiástíco de Sucre, which was connected to La Catedral.  I walked around looking at religious paintings, and pieces used in services that were just overflowing with emeralds and rubies.  Then, I walked into La Catedral, where I was able to see Virgen de Guadalupe.  Now, you will have to visit in real life to get the full effect, but there are pictures on Facebook.  She’s studded with rubies, emeralds, and many other precious gems and sits right above the altar.  It’s no wonder people tell you she is a must see in Sucre (although beautiful and awe-inspiring as she was, I’ll still rank the Berrío painting as my numero uno).

I went back to El German for lunch with Susan.  They have “set lunches” here in Sucre.  People can pay for a month worth of lunches, and a lot of families will go to a restaurant rather than the mother packing a lunch for her kids or going home from work for lunch.  We had the set lunch at El German.  The soup was made from some type of cereal grain and a lot of vegetables and was really good.  The entrée was a baked tomato stuffed with spinach and cheese and a side of rice.  The dessert was this yummy Jell-o like dessert, but was made with fresh orange pulp and was just perfectly refreshing.

After lunch, we ran into some technical difficulties for our field trip that I won’t go into right now.  Leaving Susan to deal with the chaos, Nick and I went out to sample five control houses in Sucre, collecting soil and adobe.  The interior of houses, even adobe houses, here in Sucre are extremely different than in Huancavelica.  The floors and walls are sealed with plaster or cement or tile.  We found a few holes to take our samples from, but overall, it was a very different sampling experience than last year, even in Ayacucho.

Dinner was pretty good as well.  Nothing to write home about, but another pasta dish in a cream sauce.  On the way back to the hotel from dinner, we saw this parade/Mardi Gras/drunken college students thing in the plaza.  There were marching bands, and people in costumes reenacting…something.  We haven’t quite figured out what it was, but it reminded me very much of Franklin Street when UNC beat Duke not that long ago.

Tomorrow we head to Potosí to begin the hard work that lies ahead.  Buenas noches amigos.

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