The Open Arms of Cochabamba

The welcoming city of Cochabamba

I took to the welcoming city of Cochabamba almost immediately.  With friendly and unperturbed locals, an even-tempered climate (it is lower than La Paz, resting at a comfortable 2,825 m / 9,268 ft) and far less congestion with its tree-lined thoroughfares and ample gardens, I felt more at ease here.

Cochabamba, nicknamed the “Garden City” and the “City of Eternal Spring”, decidedly lives up to its reputation.

Riding the cable car to Cristo de la Concordia overlooking Cochabamba

After the first couple of days I was already in the swing of things of this culturally active and socially progressive city.

I attended the Iberian-American Theater Festival with avant-garde groups from Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Peru and witnessed the hunger strikes by the students at the Universidad Mayor de San Simon (UMSS) for fair wages for administration workers.

I hung out in plazas filled with live music, sustainable agriculture fairs, and vegetarian food festivals.  I explored the alternative Panel de la Plaza in the main Plaza 14 de Septiembre where newspaper articles from mainstream media are posted daily and interpreted with left-leaning commentary.

I found a healthy listing of upcoming dance performances, evening discussions with university professors, cultural festivals and outdoor events.

Cristo de la Concordia, the largest statue of Jesus Christ in the world, edging out one in Poland and the famous one in Rio de Janeiro

Yet Paul and I decided to be leisurely the first few days, simply walking the agreeable streets, exploring the colorful markets, and savoring the fine vegetarian food from the surrounding fertile Central Valley.  We explored the imposing Cristo de la Concordia perched atop Cerro San Pedro at the eastern end of the city.  With marvelous views of Cochabamba and the nearby mountains, we felt contented to be in such an alluring area.

Paul atop San Pedro hill overlooking Cochabamba, Bolivia

In less than a week I finished my duties with Emprender, one of the Kiva microcredit institutions I’m assigned to.  It was time to move on.  We headed on to Santa Cruz but I would return to Cochabamba to live for the next six weeks, working with CIDRE, another Kiva microfinance partner.

Rays of the setting sun through the cable car as I descend from Cristo de la Concordia in Cochabamba

I can’t think of a better place in Bolivia to call my home for the second-half of my Kiva Fellowship. I greatly look forward to soon being a cochabambino and not merely a traveler passing through.

4 thoughts on “The Open Arms of Cochabamba”

  1. How we’d love Cochabamba. It sounds as if it has edgier cultural events than SMA, MX where we are. But there are a growing number of alternative activities here also. We just saw the National Folkloric Dancers of Hungary. Wow.

    Mom and Ray

  2. Hey mumsie and Ray, yes Cocha is a cool place, you should check it out someday! I’ve really enjoyed the past week in my own house and not in a hotel. It’s so nice to simply make a cup of coffee in your own kitchen, usually it’s the little things that satisfy us…

  3. It’s so nice to look back at the great time we had together in that laid back comfortable city. I hope to return there sometime and take in some of the trails up in the surrounding mountains. I remember you taking that photo of the pup taking a siesta in the middle of that busy street….I hope he didn’t become one of the millions of speed bumps in Bolivia :).

  4. Yes, great times indeed Paul. Cochabamba continues to please, it’s a wonderful city and area, I’m very comfortable here.

    I assume the dog is fine, I still get a kick out of the fact that he was resting in one of the busy roads just off the main plaza, goes to show how laid-back this place is!

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