Un expected turn of events

Some things last for a long time, but none is forever, this is true of the deserts and the mountains, and also of human affairs

Paisajes de La Quebrada Ruta 9, Jujuy, Argentina
La Quebrada Landscapes           Ruta 9, Jujuy, Argentina

“Those were happy days; don’t think I have any regrets,” she continued in a quiet, reflexive mood. “Evidently, as the years went by, I began to go to school. My daily routine changed, for now, I incorporated the school in the mornings and my piano lessons, in the afternoon. Nonetheless, curiously, in a certain way, things began to take their course and my life continued basically in the same form, without almost any change.”

“I was eight years old, at the time,” his wife continued with certain nostalgia in her melodious voice. “It was my second year in grammar school. Then, came the moment in which my life changed unexpectedly.” Felipe had artistically prepared the plate of cheeses. He enjoyed these quiet, intimate moments that they shared together, immensely. Well he thoughtfully uncorked the bottle of wine, he was listening attentively to his young wife.

Las tumbas Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina
Two tombs           Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina

“It began with the sudden, unforeseen death of our second-grade teacher. Out of the blue, from one day to another, she stopped being perfectly… and she died on us. Death was a vague, remote concept for me at that stage in my life.”

Felipe stopped what he was doing abruptly, as he turned around to face his wife. The sudden shift in the conversation had surprised him, as well as intrigued him also.

El cementerio Uquía, Jujuy, Humahuaca
The cemetery          Uquía, Jujuy, Humahuaca

“How can that be, my love? And, how did she woman die?” he asked. “I imagine that she was quite old and probably died exhausted from battling with so many naughty little girls,” he added with a smile, in an effort to alleviate the sinister mood in the air.

“Yes, she was a terribly old woman, the poor thing. She was a venerable, elderly old lady, and God only knows why she was still teaching at that impressively advanced old age of twenty-five. How does that strike you, my love? Such an incredible feat…”

La ruta al sur Ruta 9, Jujuy, Argentina
The south route           Ruta 9, Jujuy, Argentina


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Late hours in the kitchen

The best moments in life usually arrive spontaneously and unexpected

El patio Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina
Horizon          La Quiaca, Jujuy, Argentina

That was a part of her story that Felipe had personally witnessed; although he ignored how far back her father’s aversion towards the piano and her reading went back to. He did remember how shortly after meeting her father, he had clearly expressed his thoughts on the subject to him.

According to Don Jaimito (Felipe never understood why on earth he should apply a diminutive to his name, when he was well over two meters tall and with a corpulent body to go with it.) “… books are a pastime for fools, to entertain lazy good for nothings who had nothing better to waste their time on.”

El patio Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina
The patio           Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina

And in all the years since that time, she had become a famous concert pianist, well renown in the country and throughout the world. And Felipe, had fallen in love with her art, as well as her person.

Camino de cactus Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina
Cactus roads           Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina

Pilar paused in her speech for a moment, and Felipe took her by the hand. They walked embraced together towards the kitchen. Felipe silently proceeded to arrange a plate of cheeses and uncork another bottle of wine. It was well into the late hours of a night that had steadily grown colder. While Felipe prepared the night-cap, they got comfortable on two of the kitchen stools at the counter, where Pilar continued with the conversation.

En azul Cañada de Las Señoritas, Jujuy, Argentina
In blue          Cañada de Las Señoritas, Jujuy, Argentina


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Humahuaca’s trails

Humahuaca, a small city in the northwestern highlands of Argentina, where together with the cardones, the giant cactus, the culture, arts, and a peculiar philosophy of live come together… in a hidden corner of Latin America

Cañada de Las Señoritas Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina
Cañada de Las Señoritas           Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina

Cañada de Las Señoritas Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina
Cañada de Las Señoritas          Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina

Calles de Uquía Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina
The streets in Uquía           Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina


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Great-grandfather relocates in Sucre

He learned many things during the springtime of his life,  thanks to which… his winter days held a definite warmth

La galleta ciudad de Potosí, Potosí, Bolivia
The cookie         Potosí City, Potosí, Bolivia

Having made a fortune with the price of his shares, he decided to sell out and relocate in Sucre. Among others, he was surely attracted by the climate, (it was certainly far milder than the typical five degrees on the Celsius scale of an ordinary Potosí day). It’s also possible that he grew tired of living at four thousand meters above the sea level, and for this reason, he opted out to a more conventional city.

Atardecer en el Potosí altiplano potosino, Potosí, Bolivia
Sunset in Potosí          Potosí Highlands, Potosí, Bolivia

Once established in the City of the Eternal Spring, Don Francisco, who was also he was in the Springtime of his life, dedicated himself to social, charitable work. His helping hand was legendary as he laboured relentlessly to assist the uncountable needy people, that were found so abundantly in those times of extreme poverty.

Los escalones ciudad de Potosí, Potosí, Bolivia
The steps           Potosí City, Potosí, Bolivia

The scope of his actions was in no way restricted to the city of Sucre. Gradually, he extended the sphere of his humanitarian influence to the country in general, to that immense quantity of people, whom, after the Independence, found themselves dependent on the general state of abandonment in which the former Spanish colonies were inevitably were thrown.

Plaza de La Recoleta ciudad de Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Plaza de La Recoleta           Sucre City, Chuquisaca, Bolivia


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The Bolivian presence at Lake Titicaca

In the heights of the Andes and shared both by Peru, as well as, Bolivia, the Sacred Lake or Lake Titicaca is nested. Considered the highest navegable lake in the world it is located at 3, 800 meters above the sea level. among others, it is also considered the largest lake in South America.

Saliendo hacia el Lago Titicaca desde la ciudad de La Paz
Leaving the Lake and heading towards La Paz City

Copacabana del lado Boliviano del Lago Titicaca
Copacabana on the Bolivian side

El muelle en Copacabana del lado Boliviano
The pier on Copacana

Vista de Copacabana sobre el Lago Titicaca
View of Copacabana of the lake’s shore


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Great-grandfather Francisco’s royal blue card

Without doubt, certain individuals are occasionally born foreordained to imprint their own mark onto the world

La Calle Ravelo Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Ravelo Street           Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Indisputably, Francisco Algodoña, my illustrious forefather, was a singular character. Having received the obligated kiss of forgetfulness, he then descended to fulfill his destiny, with his blue card, firmly tied to his toe. In his case, this notorious card was surely presented in the form of a thick notebook, or more probably an impressively heavy book, as thick as a brick (in which case, he was certainly endowed with an equally thick toe on his right foot to support the weight of it).

La subida de la calle Grau Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The climb on Grau Street          Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

In the first volume (for it surely was formed by a series of massive books), his delivery to the Algodoña Revilla family, in the mining city of Potosí, was clearly stipulated. This is a well-known fact, even though certain individuals belonging to Sucre City, like to pretend or to believe, he was born in this latter City of Eternal Spring.

Caminando la calle Nicolas Ortiz Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Walking the Nicolas Ortiz  Street          Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Great-grandfather went to Valparaíso, Chile as a young man. He enrolled in the University to pursue his studies in mineralogy. Graduating with honours, he returned to Potosí to work at the Huanchaca Mining Co. At the moment in which he joined this mining concern, it had already been postulated as the most important in the region. With his income, my celebrated ancestor, sagaciously dedicated himself to buying up the stock of the aforementioned corporation, where he worked.

In this fashion, he eventually became the majority owner of the company’s stock. He achieved his financial independence when by fate’s vagaries, carefully written down in his blue card, the price of the silver reached a historical world high and with that boom the value of his stock soared to the heavens. Personally, I strongly suspect that was the reason for my mother’s constant pointing to the sky with her classic, accusing avenger’s finger.

Vista de la ciudad Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
View of the city          Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia


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My illustrious great-grandfather

Some are born into silk diapers, others fashion them later on… as they live out their most renown and celebrated lives

La Inmortal Plaza de Armas, Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The Inmortal           Plaza de Armas, Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

This question of our noble ascendancy and heritage, positively obsessed my mother’s life. To explain this unusual situation, it is necessary to go back to the far-gone days of my most illustrious great-grandfather, on my maternal side.

Bajada desde La Recoleta ciudad de Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Descending from La Recoleta           Sucre City, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Francisco Algodoña was the son of Don Mariano and Doña Eloísa, whom, notably, were not highborn or titled. When my great-grandfather was born, nor him, nor his three sisters (Amanda, Isabel, and Candelaria), nor, much less, Manuel (his brother) were highborn of noble blood. My great-grandfather’s nobility would emanate directly from God. I realize this is difficult to swallow, but that is what happened in those remote and distant times.

La Plaza de Armas ciudad de Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The Plaza de Armas           Sucre City, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

My distinguished and aristocratic great-grandfather, Francisco Algodoña, was born in 1850; at a moment in history in which we had just cordially invited all the Spaniard Nobility to pack their bags, go back home to Spain and never return to Bolivia. In the independent Bolivia of that time, all the nobility titles and honours had been abolished. That is exactly what was said and thought at the time, until the arrival and appointment of Don Francisco…

Vista desde la casa de José de Antonio ciudad de Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The view from José de Antonio’s house           Sucre City, Chuquisaca, Bolivia


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The life domestic

Four years ago, I was fortunate to experience Christmas and New Year’s in the beautiful city of Sucre. As a result, the novel, The colours of our blood was born, which happens precisely in the majestic settings of this city. Now, the novel has been published in Spanish and has seen the light. As I come back to Sucre, I have been gifted with the thrilling opportunity of walking the scenes depicted in the narrative and encountering its characters as I walk the streets… 

Domingo de Palmas Iglesia de San Francisco, ciudad de Sucre, Bolivia
Palms Sunday           San Francisco Basilic, Sucre, Bolivia

My mother, Doña Clotilde Eloisa Algodoña, was graced in life, by being able to boast that she was a direct and legitimate descendent of the only officially recognized noble family in Bolivia’s modern history. What’s more, back in the first decades of the XIXth Century, at the end of the Independence Movements of the Latin American countries, all the noble titles and their subsequent benefits disappeared from the Constitutions of the newly emerging nations.

Día en el mercado ciudad de Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
A day at the market           Central Market, Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Nevertheless, an exception occurred in Bolivia, when the Principality of The Glorieta was established, precisely in the city of Sucre. This Principality was created by a Papal Bull, proclaimed by Leon XIII, the Pope at the time. For this reason, it happened that a noble family could exist in the Independent Bolivian State. This was the same family from which my mother descended directly, for the glory or her Royal Self and the grief and sorrow of everyone else.

Plaza del Teatro Metropolitano ciudad de Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
At the plaza          Metropolitan Theatre Plaza, Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

My mother would explain this quite unusual situation to anybody within her reach, and also, to those unfortunate souls, whose inexperience allowed them to be caught. Even the four winds ceased to blow in Sucre’s surroundings, preferring the cold regions of the Potosi and the highlands. These miserable winds could be heard moaning, utterly fatigued by her relentless, repetitive speeches.

And… together with the hapless winds, the lamentations and wailing of the surprised, doomed individuals who had approached her, could also be heard in a bleak, sorrowful chorus. These were the miserable souls that had been caught in her web, beset and weighed down, lost in the faraway reaches of utter boredom, having to listen, once again and for one more time, to the interminable narrative of her most noble origins.

On the way to Bolivar Park           City streets, Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia


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Reminiscences from the past

And how many times do the ghosts of yesterdays, surprisingly, peek into our tomorrows?

Entre lustradas Avenida Armentia, La Paz, Bolivia
In between shoeshines           Armentia Avenue, La Paz, Bolivia

As for Felipe, he knew his wife’s history and perfectly well, at that, for from an early age they had become inseparable friends. All in all, with respect to her earlier life, for some reason Pilar had always been quite reserved. Today she was willing to open the conversation and talk about that time in her life, and Felipe was eager to hear her out.

Of course, due to her prodigious artistic sensibility, plus the fact of her passion for Literature, it wasn’t at all strange that she should mention her childhood dreams of writing poetry. Quite the contrary, he found it most natural and absolutely fitting with his wife’s personality. These reflections of his were abruptly interrupted as Pilar picked up the thread of their conversation once more.


Teleférico Línea Roja Teleférico, La Paz, Bolivia
Red Line  Cable-car          Cable-car, La Paz, Bolivia

“In the beginning, my life was so simple, what a carefree and easy-going life I held! The mornings were dedicated to the piano lessons with the Instructor of The Moment. During the afternoons, after lunch, I practiced the morning’s teachings. Besides, there had constantly been a series of exercises of all types to work on.” For a short spell, Pilar fell silent and pensive.

Suddenly, she began to talk again. “I believe mentioning that my father was invariably against my playing the piano. Quite possibly, I mentioned it only in the passing. The fact is that I don’t care to mention this, particularly because it was a painful situation, and then, I didn’t understand it at the time.”

La calle Jaén Centro histórico, La Paz, Bolivia
 Jaén Street         Historical Centre, La Paz, Bolivia

“On occasions, he would enter the library, the piano’s room, do you remember it still?” she asked with a sad melancholic smile.

“He had declared his private war against books as well, so I just couldn’t grasp why he ever entered the room, since he didn’t like the piano, nor did he enjoy picking up a book. But, we also lived in a very large house, full of so many other places he could frequent… Nowadays, I realize hit just relished being mean and bothering me, but at the time, I didn’t realize it and it that man’s aggressiveness upsets me terribly!”

Calles de centro Centro histórico, La Paz, Bolivia
Downtown streets           Historical Centre, La Paz, Bolivia


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Unseparable friends

Before they met, the already knew each other

Estación Taypi Uta Mi Teleférico ciudad de La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
Cable-car Station         Central Station , La Paz, Bolivia

Don Felipe listened with an immense interest. They had met each other, when he was twelve years old and his head was full of aspiring dreams to be one day fulfilled. She was only ten years of age, but already she was enjoying the sophisticated landscapes of her personal and professional achievement, quietly brought about by six long years of relentless dedication, together with that impressive talent and her natural gift for the arts, which coursed in such a natural way, racing through her veins.

From the very first moment he laid his eyes on her, Felipe immediately understood that he was in the presence of a very special person, and also, he liked her looks at the very first glance. That afternoon went by in a flash. As he was saying goodbye, he realized that he was already counting on saying hello, if possible, the very next day.

Los cómicos de la calle Plaza San Francisco, La Paz, Bolivia
Street comedians           San Francisco Plaza, La Paz, Bolivia

Pilar was also struck by the strong personality of that cute little boy, who, by the way, lived so nearby. How interesting that he already knew what he wanted from life and with such clarity. He was to become a Judge, like his father and his grandfather did before him. But he had his own mission to carry out. He wanted to become a major player in bringing about the necessary change in the Judicial System to adapt it to the New Modern Times they were living or so he believed.

Vista de La Paz Terminal de transportes, La Paz, Bolivia
City view            Bus terminal, La Paz, Bolivia

“And wasn’t that so exciting?” he asked her with that charming smile of his!

“For in two years the Twentieth Century will begin and it will be time for important changes in the world!” he affirmed categorically.

Yesterday is today Witch's market, La Paz, Bolivia
Yesterday is today           Witch’s market, La Paz, Bolivia


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