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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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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The sweet age of innocence

Those of us that fondly cherish our childhood, may count themselves among the fortunate

Entre sueños ciudad de Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Dream world           Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Well… Toña and Juanita arrived.  It’s been a while since they were dressed all in white. Of course, by now, not even considering that they’re the daughters of Doña Eloisa, would it stick. That belongs in the distant past of my candid childhood, back when, Jorge Eduardo, my younger brother, had still not opened his eyes to this world. He was still patiently awaiting a Destiny.

Sombra Carretera a Desaguadero, La Paz, Bolivia
The shadow          Desaguadero, La Paz, Bolivia

My sisters were constantly dressed in white. That was an indispensable part of an ongoing publicity campaign that was continuously being run by my mother  Observe their unblemished virginity and impeccable blamelessness. We are an apostolic, Roman Catholic family, rigorously enrolled in the Eternal Salvation Integral Program and its extended benefits and rewards.

La esquina Ciudad de Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The corner          Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

I used to have white suits and was also a virgin at the time. At least, in the eyes of my mother, I certainly was and would indefinitely continue to be one, as far as she was concerned.

I would dress in white suits for the Sunday Mass and daytime weddings. I would dress in dark suits for the funerals and nightly affairs. In those long-lost days, I was barely somewhere around six years old, and thanks to my mother, I was properly affiliated with the Eternal Salvation Plan. In those bygone days, I was a relatively happy boy, for I was still living under the warm light that bathes the blessed age of innocence.

Las palomas ciudad de La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
The pigeons          La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia


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Musical inclinations

In order to avoid misunderstandings, I would like to clarify that I have no complaints with respect to the Destiny I was assigned in Life…


Mediodía Tarabuco, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
At noon          Tarabuco, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Last, but by no means, the least, it was established that I would display an extraordinary ability in the fine arts of improvisation, with a harmonica in hand.

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

With this fine musical instrument, I would eventually play and fill in with my melodious riffs, boldly venturing into that musical genre known as, The Blues. And that would happen, even though I was destined to be born and to live, at the time, in Bolivia, of all places. With my incredibly portable, compact, and most tiny organ, I would furtively play my music behind my mother’s back and of course, without her knowledge.

El mercado Samaipata, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
The market           Samaipata, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

These highly illicit, underground musical endeavours would materialize in a basement, in the esteemed company of our prestigious blues band, of dubious and precarious merits, known to the world by the suggestive and highly evocative name of Unruly ‘till our death.

Paisaje de Puna Carretera Potosí a Tupiza, Potosí, Bolivia
The Puna landscapes           Potosí to Tupiza Highway, Potosí, Bolivia


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The predetermined aptitudes

When I had finally read the small lettering inscribed, it was just too late, the Angel had wiped my memory with a kiss, before I could complain

Monumento Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
Monument          Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

So, getting back to this business of these cards… in mine, they additionally specified that I would show a strong inclination towards music, with a special inborn aptitude for the piano. As a consequence to these blueprint particulars, I would enjoy long hours of afternoon lessons, carefully supervised by Don Gustavo. He was also the baritone in the Saint Agustin Convent’s Choir, as well as my distinguished piano teacher.

Entre libros Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
In between books           Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

In the matter of Don Gustavo, it is important to note the following: the renowned Professor displayed a strong preference towards lavishly indulging in a lotion that went by the name of Blue Water. The same eau de cologne, possessed an impressive aromatic potency, yet is still did not suffice to conceal the eternal emanations of ethylic alcohol that transpired from his vast person, a consequence of the almost industrial quantities of Singani (a Bolivian spirit that resembled old fashioned moonshine) that my illustrious tutor consumed on a regular basis, another of his partialities.

Gato con libros Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
A cat with books          Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

This celebrated craftsman of the voice and piano, would commonly carry a flask of these singular and typical Bolivian schnapps. He neatly tucked it away in the inner right pocket of his faded tobacco-brown jacket, more than worn out by the years (I am referring to my teacher, but it could apply to the jacket as well.)

Buscando libro Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
Searching for a book           Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina


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Searching for a new destiny

When I was a child, the light from the candles captivated me. Still, today, they haven’t lost their touch… the power to capture and transport me.

<em><strong>The Puna landscapes</strong>           Highway to La Quiaca, Jujuy, Argentina</em>
The Puna landscapes           Highway to La Quiaca, Jujuy, Argentina

In dreams (possibly the almost forgotten reminiscences due to a hasty Angel’s kiss, perhaps) I visualize myself descending towards Sucre. I am carrying a small multifold cardboard, deep royal blue in colour, which is firmly tied to the toe of my right foot.

Still life Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina
Still life           Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina

In this folded card, more like a tiny little book are inscribed (among many other important issues), the date of this important event (the day I shall be born), and, of course, the Country where this will happen.

In my case this cardboard booklet will contain the following instructions: Deliver to Bolivia, specifically to the Chuquisaca ¨Province. Finally, when I landed in Sucre, there would be additional specifications with more detailed information, such as:

Heading towards the border Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia
Heading towards the border           Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia

Deliver in the care of the Herrera Algodoña family, the sixth of a total of seven siblings. That would place me precisely and quite exactly between my older sister, Juana Antonietta Carmelita Refugio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, and my younger brother, Jorge Eduardo Carmelo Refugio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús. Right on the spot! Undoubtedly, our destiny is a rather perplexing puzzle and it competes in its complexity even with the names assigned to us by our witty and devious parents.

Vistaof Route 9 Quebrada de Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
Vista of Route 9           Quebrada de Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina


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Life destinies

In order to avoid misunderstandings, I would look like to clarify that I have no complaints with respect do the Destiny I was assigned in this Life…

Paisaje urbano Ciudad de la Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
Urban landscape           Ciudad de la Paz, La Paz, Bolivia

I could have been born in La Paz City. at an elevation of over eleven thousand feet. A beautiful city, enhanced by the majestic peaks of the Andes mountains, perennially covered by its shiny white ponchos, made of snow.

La limosna Terminal de Buses LaPaz, La Paz, Bolivia
The handout           Bus Terminal, La Paz City, La Paz, Bolivia 

Almeida comes from that city. She is of Aymara origins, and she was my father’s Nanny. As time went by, my father married, and she became my mother’s Nanny. Incredible, but true! Finally, as each of us were born, she came to be the Nanny of every one of the seven children. I include myself at the end of the list in, as the one before the last of all.

Día de neblina Ciudad de la Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
Foggy days         La Paz City, La Paz, Bolivia

Once we had grown up and stopped requiring her services as our Nanny, she then dedicated herself, full time, to the burdens that are unavoidably associated with becoming my mother’s Nanny. once more. My mother never stopped needing her cares and attention. That’s the way it was written on Almeida’s blue card…

Carnaval paceño Ciudad de La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz Carnaval           La Paz City, La Paz, Bolivia


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On the Threshold of my Conception

When I was a child, the light from the candles captivated me. Still, today, they haven’t lost their touch… the power to capture and transport me

Camino a Coroico desde La Paz Coroico, Los Yungas, Bolivia
The road from La Paz to Coroico           Coroico, Los Yungas, Bolivia

In this rather late stage of my life, I do not recall, exactly how that  important series of events came to pass. I refer to the proceedings that took place in the threshold of my conception, before I was born…

Comfortably sitting upon Heaven’s clouds, we, the countless souls to be born, patiently awaited our turn, and meanwhile, happily went over the particulars of  the Great Drama that would unfold as our next life.

Vista al cielo Altiplanos de Potosí, Potosí, Boliva
The clouds in heaven           Potosí highlands, Potosí, Bolivia

Yet, the memories of these moments and the details of our life to be, are not brought down with us when we are born. Precisely, just before we arrive to the world, it is with a sweet kiss on our forehead, that they are expunged; and for good or for bad, all is forgotten.

I suppose that the kiss was effective, for I do not remember those times prior to my birth. At the moment, I was surely attentive to every single detail and nuance that shaped the critically important chain  of events. But nowadays, they are deeply buried in that sweet oblivion, provoked by an entrancing kiss upon my forehead.

Vista de la Carretera de la Muerte Altiplanos de La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
Views of the Death-Road          La Paz Highlands, La Paz, Bolivia

In any event, ultimately that decisive moment arrived (the allocation and delivery of Our Destinies), and I was gifted with a Destiny that began with a voyage. Of course, along the way, I would travel in the company of my faithful Guardian Angel; whose name, I am sad to say; I cannot recall. I assume, I knew it at the time, before that all-embracing kiss.

The journey consisted in arriving punctually for a date with my incubation…

Vista al cielo Coroico. Los Yungas, Bolivias
View towards heaven         Coroico, Los Yungas, Bolivia


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