When the civil wars between the conquerors ended,
the Spanish authorities decided to found a city to commemorate the event. La Paz - headquarter of the government of Bolivia- was born. La Paz is a charming land that mixes, in each of its corners, the shades of its millennial culture, the features of its colonial past and the signs of modernity.
Feeling afraid of defrauding to my memories. Feeling panic of not finding the adequate sentences and words that can describe you. I admit it, that is what I felt when I looked at you the last time, almost from the same place -what a strange coincidence!- from where you revealed yourself to my eyes, for the first time, in an afternoon of uncertain climate, timorous sun and cottony clouds that hid the summits of the mountains.
Yes, I saw you for the first time among the scratches of light that hurt the fog. Then, you hid your beauty, looking so mysterious, calling for my attention. Now I understand everything. The veil of fog was part of your discreet seduction because, in fact, what you wanted was that I get to know about each one of your incomparable charms closely.
I start to come closer to you, City of La Paz. There are no more blurred images or diffuse contours any longer.
I start to come closer to you, city of La Paz. There are no more
blurred images neither diffuse contours any longer.
Finally I am next to you. Looking at you, contemplating you, I begin to discover you. I make fun of the fog and request the sun to caress your "polleras" with its last rays. I want to see you shining and glowing before you are covered by the darkness and the infinite blinking of the stars in your usually transparent nights.
The Sun does not want to hear my begging. It denies its rays, hiding itself between the hills, as if it was escaping from the outpost of black clouds that begins to invade your deep blue sky. But that apparently does not worry you. You are used to the torrential rains, to that icy cold that numbs the bones and to the scarce air of the altitude.
I look for refuge to avoid the celestial crying.People open their umbrellas, put their phosphorescent raincoats on or simply start walking faster. It rains furiously... and the night falls and there is no Moon and they light the street lights. The streets, the squares, even the hills get illuminated.
Humidified visions of the City of La Paz.
How not to be afraid of disappointing my memories?, how not to become a prisoner of panic?, if it is so difficult to express in words what one feels when walking by your always ascending and exhausting streets; or when hearing the prayers of your daughters -polleras, hats, prominent cheekbones-, that commend themselves to the God of the Conquest and toast to the Earth, the Goddess of their great grand parents.
It is complicated to write about you, City of La Paz,
because in your avenues and small streets, in your sleepy squares or in your handmade markets; in your churches of compassionate saints or in your hills with thousands of houses; the shades of the Andean culture, the features of your colonial inheritance and the brightness of the modern life are conjugated.
Mixed memories. I am so confused. I don't know how to continue. I think of San Francisco, the centennial temple and convent in Baroque style, surrounded by dozens of street vendors of Andean features that offer a great quantity of goods and delicious foods; and I think of a Square of calm aspect with infinite pigeons with voracious appetites.
Murillo?... yes, that is its name...people
coming and going and gentlemen resting, children throwing grains
of corn to the pigeons, and policemen and soldiers making guard
in the Palace of Government and the Congress of the Republic,
buildings located in the surroundings of the square.
And there are people coming and going and gentlemen resting, children throwing grains of corn to the pigeons, and policemen and soldiers on guard in the Palace of Government and the Congress of the Republic, buildings located in the surroundings of the Square.
Perhaps, one of your most beautiful and most picturesque
places is the Valley of the Moon, at only 20 kilometres from downtown. Here, time and the erosion have drawn extraordinarily strange forms in the stones that resemble the splendid landscapes of the natural satellite of the earth.
Those are only some of your attractions. Ah……, if I could describe them all, I would fill so many pages, but I cannot make it. I better change the subject. I better appeal to history to know that you were founded on October the 20th, 1548, by the captain Alonso de Mendoza who following the orders of Pedro de la Gasca, baptized you with the name of Nuestra Señora de la Paz - Our Lady of the Peace.
Founding the city, the Spanish conquerors commemorated the end of the civil wars that stained the Andean heights. History says that, years later, King Carlos V sent a plate in which the following message was read: "The disputes have finish, all is in peace and love, joined as a town of peace that was founded for perpetual memory."
I was looking for peace and I found it in your streets, but I also found the fear of not being able to describe you completely. I did not want to defraud my memories, I did not want to disappoint you, City of La Paz.