We headed to her parents house first thing, and they showed us the new store and kitchen which are nearly finished. The old kiosko still stands, but it will be removed before long.
To get ready for lunch, we had to start moving some things into the new kitchen, like Doña Lucila’s little old propane stove. Her daughters all want her to replace it with a new stove, but she refuses because it was a wedding gift. And besides, it still works fine, she says.
Saturday morning we headed over the San Francisco, an old church in Potosi. The guide was young and energetic and showed us lots of interesting things. We started by looking at paintings on the four walls surrounding a large courtyard, mostly on the subject of San Francisco de Assisi. Then we went into the main church sanctuary and he showed us the miraculous image of the Señor de la Veracruz. It’s a giant sculpture of Jesus on the cross made from one piece of cactus. It’s really quite beautiful. The “miraculous” part comes from the story of its origin. The statue showed up unexpectedly on the church’s doorstep one day, but headless. Then three guys came to town and offered to fashion a head. Not knowing these guys, they were asked to stay isolated in a room for three days, which they did. They never ate a thing. When the people went to the room to see why they weren’t eating, the dudes were gone. The statue of Jesus suddenly had a head, and it looked as if it had been part of the statue from the very beginning.
After a very late check-in, we slept in and started our first day in Potosi around 11 a.m. At first we were thinking of switching hotels since the one we were at was a bit pricey and not everything was working as it should (tv, telephone, toilet, lamp, etc). But eventually these problems were fixed and we decided to stay.
We went to the Torre de Compañia de Jesus and climbed to the top where we had a spectacular view of the city and Cerro Rico (“rich mountain”), the mountain that made Potosi wealthy and famous. You see, silver was discovered in Cerro Rico, and that led to a mining boom. The truth is that during colonial times, Potosi was the largest city in the Americas and the source of enormous wealth for the Spanish empire. This led to the construction of tons of beautiful churches and buildings across the city. But all this came at the expense of the lives of Indians from across the region forced to work as slaves in miserable conditions in the mines.
The bus ride took longer than we thought it would. The most interesting part of the ride was when we had to disembark from the bus to cross Tiquina Strait. The bus went across on a ferry and, after paying a fee (of course), we were herded into motorboats and went across. Once on the other side, we petered around the plaza and waited for the bus to arrive. Once it did, we got back onboard. But not everyone realized the bus had come. The driver didn’t seem to care. He began driving off after honking a few times. Some passengers began yelling “Faltan! MUCHOS faltan!” (Missing, there are many missing!) So he relented and went back to pick up the stragglers, who were still unaware of their plight.
Today I’m getting over my first (and hopefully last) bout of Montezuma’s Revenge. We’re not exactly sure what caused it. Theories range from some salteñas I ate on Sunday night to my drinking of tap water at the seminario (which I mistakenly believed was filtered).
Regardless, I’m feeling better. This was something I knew would happen eventually. From now on, I’ll be boiling all my water at the seminario and storing it in water bottles. That should help.