Cochabamba, with its wide streets and western-style restaurants, feels like a city awash in money. Although that’s not the case at all, at least one spot in town does exude wealth and genteel living: the palace of Simon I. Patiño, alternately known as the Tin Baron, or The Andean Rockefeller.
If you’re looking for a quick and incredibly cheap lunch in small, cramped quarters, you can’t go wrong at the the gleaming new Mercado Lanza near the Iglesia de San Francisco. With hundreds of stalls serving food and juices, you’ll definitely find something appetizing. Just don’t be squeamish about sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers.
I stirred to life as we passed through the satellite Aymara city of El Alto, perched perilously on a hill overlooking La Paz. But though my eyes had opened, I thought perhaps I was still dreaming. Bolivia’s largest and most important city was sprawled out across the valley below us, beginning to light up as though preparing for our arrival, surrounded by mountains on all sides.
Don Francisco Argandoña and his wife Clotilde Urioste Velasco were among the most important members of late 19th Century Bolivian society. He had made a fortune in the mining industry, and owned a private bank. She was the daughter of a wealthy Spanish family, and dedicated her life to helping orphans. On a diplomatic tour Europe in 1898, they called upon Pope Leon XIII, who pronounced them the “Princes of the Glorieta”. They accepted the honor graciously; it hardly mattered that Bolivia didn’t have a monarchy.