Tag: Model

Life Happens in La Paz

Life Happens in La Paz

La Paz, Bolivia – June 1, 2019

Life happens all around us.  La Paz, Bolivia is no different in that respect.

After my recent visit to Tiwanaku (see Ancient Peoples or Aliens?), I watched the Ancient Aliens episode about Puma Punku.  That episode features a unique bowl found at Tiwanaku.  The bowl is located at the Museo de Metales Preciosos (The Precious Metals Museum) on Calle Jaen.  Hearing the name of the museum while watching the episode, I recalled being on Calle Jaen with Leslie (see Mamani Mamani).  The bowl is unique because of what appears to be Samarian cuneiform writing.  I decided I had to personally see this bowl.

Saturday morning at about 09:00 I left my house for the green line of the Teleférico.  I was the only rider in my gondola for the entire length of the green line.  The same happened on the celeste line, the white line, and the orange line.  From the orange line I saw a red building that may be a cholet.  I also saw the “illegal” cemetery again.

A red building beside the orange Teleférico.
The cemetery beside the orange line.

I got off the orange line at the Armentia station and walked southeast on Avenida Armentia toward Calle Jaen.  I stopped along the way to take photographs of some of the shops.  Just as I made it to Calle Jaen, I heard some loud motorcycles.  At first, I thought they were on the main road behind me.  Suddenly, much to my surprise, I noticed two motorcycles on Calle Jaen coming quickly uphill toward me.  The motorcycles were from the Bolivian police.  A dog barked and chased the second motorcycle.  Life happens in La Paz.

The Armentia station on the orange line.
Don Justo’s shop.
A small hardware store on Avenida Armentia.
River flower and a van.
A police officer on a motorcycle being chased by a dog on Callen Jaen.

After the motorcycles passed, it was just a few more steps to the entry to the Museo de Metales Preciosos.  I did not have to pay.  I retained my ticket from our visit to the other museums this past February.  The guard simple tore off the stub for the museum.  That left one museum entry, Casa de Murillo.  More on that soon.

At the first exhibit in the Museo de Metales Preciosos (no photographs allowed!) I noticed an abundance of artifacts from Tiwanaku.  This theme repeated itself throughout the museum.  The artifacts included arrowheads and ceramics.

After looking through the first couple of rooms, one exits into the central courtyard of the museum.  Crossing the courtyard, I entered the Gold Room.  The first thing I saw was the unique bowl which prompted my journey.  Fuente Magna is the name given to the bowl.  The museum does not allow photographs; however, one can see and read about the bowl at Ancient Pages.  I am glad I got to see the bowl.  It was fascinating.  Just what was a bowl with Samarian cuneiform writing doing in Tiwanaku?  How did it get there?  Was there some sort of extra-terrestrial travel involved in millennia past?  Life happens in La Paz, but who knows what may have happened at Tiwanaku?

I found two other fascinating things in the museum, mummies and skulls.  One of the upper rooms of the museum has three mummies on display.  Two of the mummies appear just as the one at Tiwanaku did.  The mummies are only about half-height, wrapped with what seems to be a hemp rope.  The only thing exposed is the face of the mummies.  The third mummy on display is without wrappings.  Upon closer inspection, one realizes why the mummies are only about half-height; they are folded.  Instead of the arms crossing on the chest, they lay straight up toward the head, one on either side of the neck.  Folding the legs at the hips and the knees allow the legs to lay inside the chest cavity.  Yes, the knees are in the chest!  No wonder they appear half-height!

A nearby room displays five of the distended skulls I saw at the museum at Tiwanaku.  These were easier to see.  I studied them closely.  I could not decipher how the skulls were distended during the life of the individual.  Other than the odd shape of the skull, the face and teeth appeared normal.

There is some ancient gold on display in the Gold Room.  But my attention went to the items I described above.

Essentially across Calle Jaen from the Museo de Metales Preciosos is Museo Casa de Pedro D. Murillo.  Pedro Domingo Murillo is a revered patriot, freedom fighter, and martyr.  In return for plotting and fighting for Bolivia’s independence from Spain, the Spanish executed Murillo in 1810 in the plaza that today bears his name.  The museum is in the home once occupied by Murillo.  Unlike the other museum, I was able to take a couple of photographs.

A bust of Pedro Domingo Murillo at the Museo de Casa de Murillo.
The courtyard of Casa de Murillo.
A painting at Casa de Murillo as seen from the courtyard.
The Templo de la Compañía de Jesús (Temple of the Society of Jesus) as seen from Casa de Murillo.
The entry portico to Casa de Murillo.

After the second museum, I decided I should have a coffee.  Music drew me into the Hanaq Pacha Restaurant.  Like so many of the old structures on Calle Jaen, there is a central courtyard.  That is the seating area for the restaurant.  While drinking my coffee I noticed the upper floor had a lot of art for sale.  Finished with my coffee, I went upstairs to explore.  In addition to the art, some of my favorites appear below, I found a unique view of Calle Jaen.  Life happens in La Paz.

A timeout for coffee at the Hanaq Pacha Restaurant.
Paintings at the Hanaq Pacha Restaurant.
Casa de Murillo as seen from the terrace at the Hanaq Pacha Restaurant.
Calle Jaen as seen from the terrace at the Hanaq Pacha Restaurant.
A painting at the Hanaq Pacha Restaurant.
A painting at the Hanaq Pacha Restaurant.
A painting at the Hanaq Pacha Restaurant.
The courtyard of the Hanaq Pacha Restaurant.

I departed the restaurant and almost immediately walked into the Kullama Gallery.  During our February visit, Leslie and I bought some gifts and a magnet in the gallery.  One of the items was a llama leather coin purse.  The coin purse has a painted accent.  Today, I met the accent painter, Inti!  He proudly proclaimed his name is Aymaran.  I bought a couple more gifts, took his photograph, and departed.  Life happens in La Paz.

The artist Inti.

As soon as I stepped back onto Calle Jaen, I noticed a director and photographer working with a model.  I remember seeing something similar on my last visit.  I took a few of my own photographs and continued toward the Mamani Mamani Gallery.  I was happy that the sky was so blue today.  I ended up with a much better photograph of the gallery building.

Turning the corner, I saw more models and more photography in full swing.  I immediately sat on a nearby bench to watch all the activity.  Not only did I see what was happening with the models, I also watched all the people walking past.  Some of the pedestrians included one of my favorite subjects, cholitas.  Life happens in La Paz, so I just watched life unfold for a while.

The woman in the green jacket directing a model on Calle Jaen.
Preparing for the next shot.
The building housing the Mamani Mamani Gallery.
One model standing at the door while another five are preparing for their shot.
Some cholitas walk past a man sitting on a bench.
Another cholita coming by.
The modeling troupe took over the benches on Calle Indaburo.
The models waiting for their shot while the old men wait for their lunch.
A man waiting for his lunch.

From my previous visit, I thought I remembered seeing a large church a block or two away.  I left the company of models to search for the church.  While I walked, I took photographs of the neighborhood and the people I saw.  I did not locate the church.  Instead, I headed back to the photoshoot.  Life happens in La Paz.

A colorful building on Calle Indaburo.
A two-tone building on Calle Indaburo.
People at the corner of Calle Indaburo and Calle Pichincha.
Chubis Burger on Calle Pichincha.
Looking downhill on Calle Pichincha.
Another view of Chubis Burger.
A young girl walks by Cesy Hairstyles on Calle Indaburo.

As I neared the area, I recalled the photoshoot troupe often walked farther west on Calle Indaburo.  I decided to go that way to see what was there.  There is essentially a set of stairs down to the next street.  The walls did have a lot of color and graffiti, so I understood why the photographer chose to shoot in that area.  I saw a uniquely painted metal door.  I am not sure if it led to a shop or a home.  I opted to not find out, just to enjoy the art.  Across from the door is a sign for what I assume is a nightclub, Bocaisapo (mouth and toad).  Near the door advertised; coca, art, and culture.  Life happens in La Paz; however, I do not think I will return to experience the club.

The Bocaisapo (Mouth and Toad).
The stairs from Calle Jaen down to Alto de la Alianza.
Another view of the Bocaisapo.
A painted metal door at 705C Calle Indaburo.

Walking back, I found a small café with a couple of outdoor tables.  The café is in the Mamani Mamani Gallery building.  I went inside and inquired if they had beer.  With an affirmative answer, I went back outside, a smile on my face, and sat at one of the two tables.  Soon the server brought my beer and a small bowl of peanuts.  The beer was very good.  It is an artisan brew I have not seen before, Cobriza.

The table was almost directly across from a door the photographer used as a backdrop for several shots.  I took advantage of the location and took a few shots myself.  Additionally, the models walked back and forth from their staging area to the various locations on Calle Jaen and Calle Intaburo.  I am not sure how they were able to walk in those “ankle-buster” shoes.  It appeared to me to be a challenge to walk in the shoes in the best most level and even sidewalk imaginable.  Add some cobblestones to the mix and it seems nigh impossible to walk.  In fact, they often escorted each other; one in “ankle-busters” and the other steadying model in flat shoues.  Regardless, because of my location, the models walked by frequently.

Soon I saw a familiar man approach the models’ staging area.  I realized it was the artist, Mamani Mamani.  He greeted the troupe.  He ultimately ended up in front of his gallery, posing for photographs with the models.  Afterall, he is a very famous artist in Bolivia.  I was happy to just be sitting there and watching life unfold.  Life happens in La Paz.

One of the models at Calle Jaen and Calle Indaburo.
The gift shop at the Green Cross House.
The pause that refreshes. My table and beer on Calle Idaburo.
Striking a pose on Calle Indaburo.
Receiving direction for the next pose.
The model’s pose prior to direction.
Posing at a doorway.
Two models walking back to the home base benches.
A model in “ankle-busters” taking photographs of other models posing with the artist Mamani Mamani.
Another model taking photographs of models with the artist Mamani Mamani.
The daughter of one of the models striking a pose on a lamppost.

Finished with my beer, I decided I would start my journey back home.  Instead of retracing my steps to the orange line, I decided I would walk to the celeste line.  Luckily that direction is all downhill.

An old building on Calle Indaburo.
The building at Plaza Wenceslao Monrroy.
A view downhill on Calle Genaro Sanjines.

Along my route, I kept seeing a political sign.  I finally stopped to take a photograph.  The slogan in Spanish reads, “Insurrection Brigade.  Elections and the referendum are a submission to the corrupt bourgeois dictatorship and selling the homeland.”  People in Bolivia are definitely able to express their views.

A little farther along I came to a yellow building.  It is striking, not just because of the color, but because of the architectural style and details.  I am not sure what the building is, but it is eye catching.

Posters on a building on Calle Genaro Sanjines.
Posters at the corner of Calle Genaro Sanjines and Calle Ingavi.
Approaching a colorful building on Calle Genaro Sanjines.
Wall decoration on the building.
Detail of the wall decoration.

I made it to Calle Comercio, a street familiar to me from previous treks through the city.  The bustling street meant it was Saturday.  The Mega Burguer sign touts, “nobody does it like us.”  In front of the fast food restaurant is one of many vendor stands.  One can see many cardboard boxes under and near the stand.  One of the aspects of life in Bolivia is that many of the vendors set up and tear down their stands each and every day.  I am sure that is because they do not have the funding to have a brick and mortar store.  I continued southeast on Calle Comercio toward Plaza Murillo.  As I may have noted, life happens in La Paz.

The Mega Burguer on Calle Comercio.
Los Amigos on Calle Comercio.

I made it to Plaza Murillo with my newfound knowledge of the history of the plaza.  It struck me that there were a lot of people around the plaza.  At first, I thought that was because it was Saturday.  As I walked a bit farther, I noticed two reasons for the throng of people.  At the steps of the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace I saw a wedding couple posing for photographs.  In addition to the wedding guests, several people were boarding a bus.  I am not sure if that was part of the wedding or something separate.  It is very obvious that life happens in La Paz.

Next to the basilica is the Presidential Palace.  On this visit I got a much better photograph of the guards wearing period uniforms.  The platforms on which they stand bear the inscription, “Presidential Escort.”

A lot of people in front of the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace at Plaza Murillo.
A newlywed couple on the steps of the basilica.
The guards at the Presidential residence in period costume.
The newlyweds posing for photographs.
Getting ready to descend the stairs.
Wedding guests in front of the basilica.

Two police officers walking up Calle Socabaya.

A pharmacy on Calle Socabaya.

After watching life happening in La Paz, I continued my walk to the Teleférico.  Along my path, I saw some new sights.  First was a building with the sign, “Vice President of the State.”  I assume that building houses the offices of the Vice President of Bolivia, Álvaro Marcelo García Linera.  Near that building is the 1668 Saint Agustin Shrine.  Beside that is the La Paz city hall.

The building with the dome has a sign stating, “Vice President of the State.”
A woman boarding a bus at the corner of Calle Mercado and Calle Ayacucho.
El Sagrario San Agustin (The Saint Agustin Shrine) dates from 1668.
The La Paz city hall is beside the The San Agustin Shrine.

Across from city hall were several protest banners and a lone woman selling items, presumably to raise money for the cause.  One of the banners read, “Mayor enforce the constitutional decision to LPL.”  Another reads, “Revilla, order your company LPL to comply with the constitutional ruling of reincorporation.”  The third sign reads, “Revilla is a liar does not comply with the justice of our reincorporation justice is fulfilled do not negotiate.”  The mayor of La Paz is Luis “Lucho” Revilla.  Life happens in La Paz.

A few minutes later, I made it to the celeste line.  A fitting end to my trek that day was the beautiful mountain, Illimani.

I enjoyed walking around La Paz today and watching life happen.

A protest across from city hall.
People queuing for public transportation near city hall.
A woman selling all sorts of items at a stand on Calle Colon.
Buildings on Avenida Camacho.
The bus stop near the celeste line of the Teleférico.
Illimani is visible in the distance across from the Prado stop of the celeste line.
Museo Nacional de Arte

Museo Nacional de Arte

La Paz, Bolivia – April 27, 2019

I wanted to see the Museo Nacional de Arte since I arrived in La Paz some eight months ago.  Today is that day.  Little did I know on this day I would encounter a backward clock, beautiful 17th Century art, and a crucified, blue Jesus.

On this beautiful, mostly sunny day, I left home shortly after 09:00.  I hailed a taxi to take me to the Irpavi station for the green line of the Teleférico.  I rode the green line to the end.  There I switched to the Linea Celeste (light blue) line and rode it to the end, near Plaza Camacho.  I thought about taking a taxi to Plaza Murillo, my final destination.  Instead, I opted to walk roughly 835 meters (just over one-half mile).

The façade of a government building on Avenida Camacho.
Detail of the coat of arms of Bolivia.

The walk was easy until I turned right to go up Calle Socabaya.  The steep street required a couple of rest stops along the way.  Regardless, I finally made it to Plaza Murillo.

At the southwest corner of Calle Socabaya and Called Comercio sits the building housing the National Art Museum.  Across the street, on the southeast corner, is the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of La Paz.  That was my first stop.

Like many cathedrals, it is a large, imposing, stone structure, started in 1835.  The inauguration of the cathedral did not happen until 1925.  Inside, it is impressive, but not overstated.  Photography inside is strictly forbidden.  Unknowingly, I entered during mass.  Because of that, I did not explore much of the cathedral.  The most interesting fact I discovered is that the main entrance is 12 meters (39 feet) higher than the base of the cathedral at the rear on Calle Potosí.  That provides some idea of the steepness of Calle Socabaya.

The Museo Nacional de Arte is in a building dating from 1775, at the corner of Socabaya and Calle Comercio.
The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace on the south side of Plaza Murillo.
The bas relief above the main entrance to the basilica.
The door to the right of the main door.
The door to the left of the main door.

Exiting the cathedral, I crossed the street to Plaza Murillo.  As I strode up the stairs to the main level of the plaza, I caught my first glimpse of the dozens and dozens of pigeons.  Feeding the pigeons was a woman surrounded by the birds.  At the time, I did not realize the prevalence of this activity.  It reminded me of Leslie, Hillary, and Tyler feeding the pigeons when we toured Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

A woman feeding the pigeons at Plaza Murillo.
The towering statue in the center of Plaza Murillo.

Continuing through the plaza, one cannot miss the large clock above the entrance to the National Congress of Bolivia.  What immediately captures the imagination is that the clock is backward!  The numbers from 1 – 12 appear just the opposite of other clocks.  The hands of the clock turn to the left, not clockwise.  I did not have enough brainpower to be able to read the time.  I did not seem to correspond in any way to my watch.

According to a story by the BBC, the Bolivian Foreign Minister said, “…the change had been made to get Bolivians to treasure their heritage and show them that they could question established norms and think creatively.”  As noted above, I must have left my creative gene at home…

The building housing the National Congress of Bolivia (note the backward clock).
Detail of the flags and clock at the National Congress of Bolivia.

The National Congress building is on the east side of the plaza.  From my vantage point, I looked back to the south.  I could see the towering government building, Casa Grande del Pueblo.  Immediately in front of the tower is the Palacio de Gobierno.  I understand that is one of the homes of the Bolivian President, Juan Evo Morales Ayma.  The guards at the palace are hard to miss since they are in uniforms reminiscent of the 19th century.

The building in the foreground is the Palacio de Gobierno. One can barely see the red uniformed guards at the front. The tall building in the background is a government building known as Casa Grande del Pueblo.
The red uniformed guards in front of the Palacio de Gobierno.
The guards at the main entry.

Continuing through the plaza, I found pigeons everywhere.  Near the central statue, a woman sat on a bench feeding the birds while her companion captured the moment on his cellphone.  She ended up with pigeons on her head and neck.  I spotted a seat in the shade and sat down.  From that vantage point, I watched the world go by while taking photographs periodically.

Several street vendors had small stalls throughout the plaza, selling ice cream, cups of jello, snacks, drinks, and, oh yes, bird feed.  At one of the bird feed stations, I saw a sign asking people to please place the small plastic bags in the trash after they finished feeding the birds.

In the center, above the word “gloria,” is the towering statue in the center of the Plaza Murillo.
A closer view of the statue.
A woman posing for her companion while she feeds the pigeons in Plaza Murillo.
View across the plaza toward the basilica.
The woman ended up with a pigeon on her head and one on her neck.
Her companion capturing the moment.
Detail of an emblem on the Casa Grande del Pueblo.
Detail of an emblem on the Casa Grande del Pueblo.
Detail of an emblem on the Casa Grande del Pueblo.
A couple of men on a bench talking in the plaza.
One of the vendors at the plaza. She sold a cup with what seemed to be jello and whipped cream.
Another woman falls victim to a pigeon on the head.
An ice cream vendor wheels his cart by a couple feeding pigeons.
The woman below the sculpture was one of several people selling bird feed.
The flags and coat of arms at the Palacio de Gobierno.
Detail of the coat of arms.
A woman at the plaza selling drinks and snacks.
The stands from which the jello concoctions emanate.
A partial view of the Bolivian flag on the left. On the right is a variant flag of Bolivia, known as the Whipala.

When I got up from my bench, I walked across the street to the art museum.  Created in 1960, the museum opened to the public in 1961.  Don Francisco Tadeo Diaz de Medina y Vidangos commissioned the large house, completed in 1775.  Bolivia declared the house a national monument in 1930.

Entering the museum cost me Bs5 (US$0.72).  I expected to see a sign indicating no photography in the museum.  I was right, but disappointed.  Outside the museum, in the courtyard, I did capture a couple of images.  Regardless, the museum was worth every penny of the entry fee.  Some of my favorite paintings follow.

Master of Calamarca, Archangel with Gun, Asiel Timor Dei, before 1728, oil on canvas and gilding, 160 x 110 cm (Museo Nacional de Arte, La Paz, Bolivia)

Asiel Timor Dei circa 17th century.  This image is from Khan Academy.

File: Gaspar Miguel de Berrío - Coronation of the Virgin.jpg

The Coronation of the Virgin by Gaspar Miguel de Berrío circa 18th century.  This image is from Wikipedia.

Archivo:Anónimo - La Virgen del Cerro, 1720.jpg

The Virgin of the Hill, artist unknown, 1720.  This image is from Wikipedia.

I like the painting of St. John the Evangelist by Melchor Pérez de Holguín.  I could not find an image of the painting to share; however, I discovered Holguín’s portrait is on the Bs50 note!

This image is from The Banknote Museum.

The Triumph of Nature (1928), by Cecilio Guzmán de Rojas.  This image is from Biografías y Vidas.

The courtyard of the art museum, complete with small rock sculptures.
The water fountain in the courtyard of the art museum.

When I left the art museum, since I was so close, I decided to go to the museum at the San Francisco Basilica.  To begin that journey, I walked along Calle Comercio.  That is a pedestrian thoroughfare.  The center is full of vendors selling just about everything one can imagine.  I did not stop to buy anything.  However, I did see a crew installing a pole and working on the dozens of overhead cables.  I have no clue how they know which is which.  I guess that is why they have not asked me to work with them.

To get to the San Francisco Plaza required a walk down Calle Genaro Sanjinés.  It was definitely “down!”  Just another of the many steep streets in La Paz.  A block or so down the road I glimpsed an inner courtyard through a door, the Restaurante Pruebame.  I stopped in for a cup of coffee and some French fries.  I think that is a new diet fad…

A man selling books on Calle Comercio. The entry to the art museum is behind him.
The entrance to the museum.
Looking down Socabaya.
On Calle Comercio looking toward the basilica and Plaza Murillo.
Workers on Calle Comercio preparing to set a pole.
Another worker seemingly trapped in a web of cables.
The courtyard of Restaurante Pruebame.
Stopped for a coffee.
A man walking past the entrance to the restaurant. Yes, many streets in La Paz are quite steep!

Leaving the restaurant, I continued down.  As I was walking, I remembered the plaza is on a major six-lane road.  I imagined a difficult crossing.  Then I remembered seeing a pedestrian bridge a little to the north.  I veered onto Calle Potosí toward Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz.  Walking beside that busy avenue, I happened to look to my right.  I saw a metallic sculpture of a bull.  I entered the virtually deserted plaza and found several sculptures.  There was no one around, nor were there any signs to indicate who made the sculptures.  Some of them were amazing.

Looking down Calle Genaro Sanjines.
The San Francisco Basilica.
A beautiful building on Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz. I ended my tour on top of that building, enjoying a beer.
Artwork in a rather deserted plaza.
A sculpture of a bull.
Numerous wooden sculptures in the plaza.
The other side of the bull.
Detail of the bull and the graffiti.

There were many typical sights of La Paz as I walked toward and onto the pedestrian bridge.  The views included vendor booths for DVDs and news/magazines, signs celebrating La Paz, and food booths.  At the end of the bridge is an entry to Mercado Lanza.  I entered, heading toward the San Francisco Plaza side.  The market is a collection of small vendor stands under an enormous roof.

The other side of the market is above Calle Figueroa.  That street had more vendor stands.  Some vendors staked out a spot on the sidewalk; such as the figurine vendor, and the women selling juice and fruit.  From the top of the stairs, I could see a group of people crowded around one man.  Obviously a salesman, he demonstrated a product for drinking.  Exactly what the product was, I am not sure.

A family shopping for DVDs.
A news and magazine stand near the E. Valle Pedestrian Bridge.
The beginning incline of the pedestrian bridge.
Calle Comercio as seen from the bridge.
The marvelous La Paz sign on Avenida Pérez Velasco. The pedestrian bridge spans the avenue.
The view from the bridge toward the San Francisco Basilica.
A children’s merry-go-round at the base of the bridge.
Some highly decorated buildings at the base of the bridge.
Looking back toward the other side of the bridge, one sees a likeness of the mountain peak Illimani.
Patrons queuing at a refreshment stand.
Traffic and vendors on Calle Figueroa.
The view northwest on Calle Figueroa.
A man selling dolls and other trinkets on Calle Figueroa.
Some of the many vendor stalls.
A group of people watching a demonstration of a product.
A woman selling juice on Calle Figueroa.
Looking down on a woman selling fruit.
The man wearing the DC ball cap wowed the crowd with his product.
Walking toward Plaza San Francisco.
A man selling balloons at the plaza.
Plaza San Francisco.

Now at San Francisco Plaza, I entered the museum, paid my Bs10 (US$1.45) entry fee, and walked up a flight of stairs to begin the tour.  At the top of the stairs is a covered walkway leading to what used to be the monastery.  A museum guide approached me as I stood reading signs about the church and monastery.  He struck up a conversation, in English, and began guiding me through the site.

I learned the basilica began construction in 1548.  Oddly enough, the structure collapsed in 1610 due to heavy snowfall.  The rebuilt structure opened in 1772.  At many locations along our route, the guide advised me not to take photographs.  That admonition applied to a salon area complete with 16th-century frescos on the wall; the winery, and a hall containing ten or twelve paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries.  The photo ban did not apply to the room housing the crucified, blue Jesus.  According to the guide, the oddly colored Jesus has something to do with a Franciscan belief; although, I did not precisely understand what he said.  Adjacent to that room were numerous stone relics from the collapsed structure.

The courtyard of the monastery has a wishing fountain, a stone cross, and numerous plants.  Many of the plants have medicinal qualities.  One tree, in particular, caught my interest, the queñua.  The bark of the tree is paper-thin and peels away easily.  Near the tree, I saw a very furry black cat.  Disinterested in my presence, the cat did not attempt to interact with either of us.

The water fountain in the courtyard of San Francisco.
Looking up toward the bell tower.
The stone cross in the courtyard.
The cat in the courtyard.
Another view of the courtyard.
A queñua tree in the courtyard.
Detail of the bark of the queñua tree.
The blue crucified Jesus.
One of the rooms housed old columns and carved stones from the complex.

The guide walked me back toward the entry stairs and allowed photographs of another courtyard.  Then the guide opened an old wooden door at the top of the stairs that led into an upper level of the basilica.  From this level, the lower level of the basilica unfolded below.  Since there was no mass, I asked about taking photographs.  “Absolutely not,” was the answer.  Talking with the guide is when I learned photos are forbidden.  That puts a different light on my previous visit to the basilica when a Bolivian National Police officer got mad at me (A Great Day for the Dead).

Another courtyard in the basilica grounds.

The first space had on display old dalmatics, chalices, patens, and a massive and ornate monstrance.  The next stop was the choir, with two levels of carved wood seats surrounding a central music stand.  On the music stand was an enormous original music book.  The books are large to allow the choir to see the music from any of the seats.

Before entering the basilica, the guide mentioned that every stone bears the mark of the mason that originally quarried the rock.  After I heard that, I saw the initials in nearly every stone at which I looked.  At the other side of the choir, he led me to the base of some narrow steps made of stone.  These rose up to the roof of the basilica.  The unevenness of the treads and risers made the climb a little tricky.  The struggle was not only real; but, well worth the effort.  Our vantage point allowed a view of the roof and bell tower that not everyone gets to enjoy.  While on the roof, I found a significant bit of information…the building across the way had a rooftop seating area.  More about that shortly.

The bell tower of San Francisco as seen from the roof of the basilica.
Looking down on Plaza San Francisco and the traffic on Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz.
From the roof of the basilica, I spotted the rooftop seating of Ichuri. It must have been a sign from above.
Looking along the spine of the basilica roof. The dome is the cupola above the altar.
One of the bells.
View through the bell tower.
The cross on top of the cupola.
There are seven of these structures on the roof. Each allows a little light inside the basilica during the day.

Everything that goes up must come down.  That seemed to apply to us as well.  The guide led me to another set of stairs to get us down from the roof.  Just before our descent, I gave him a Bs10 tip.  He appreciated the tip.  Maybe I should have waited until our safe passage.

The stairs were just as uneven and steep as the first set.  A handrail would have been a wonderful luxury; but alas, that was not to be.  The narrow passage meant each of my shoulders touched the wall all the way down.  That helped my balance.  At the base of the stairs, I stopped to look back to the sky.  One of the steps clearly showed the mark of the maker.  Back on the solid level of the basilica I made the sign of the cross in thanks…not actually, but I probably should have.

The guide showed me that the windows on either side of the choir are not glass, but agate.  Several bullet holes in the agate remind visitors of the civil war.

I stopped to look back to the roof after coming down these ancient stairs. Note the “X” carved in the lower step.  A sign of the maker.
In the courtyard looking toward the bell tower.
The covered walkway to the side of the courtyard.

Departing the museum, I entered one of the tourist shops.  Masks to hang on the wall are a big thing in Bolivia.  I am not sure why, but I “needed” one.  I settled on a small bird mask.

The painted wood pájaro (bird) head I bought near the basilica.

When I left the shop, I stopped to look at the carving on the façade of the basilica.  One of the images I spotted was that of the Pachamama (Mother Earth) that demonstrates the influence of the indigenous peoples on the construction of the basilica.

A panorama of the basilica façade.
A wider view of the Pachamama carving.
The figure of Pachamama on the façade of the basilica.

With the mask in tow, I made my way to the building on which I saw the rooftop seating area.  I entered the building and saw a set of stairs.  Winding my way to the top, it surprised me to not see a door for the restaurant.  Each level of this building had a short hallway with offices/shops on either side, the same as the upper floor.  Walking to the other end of the hall, I found an elevator to take one to the final level.  I opted instead to use the stairs that wrapped around the elevator shaft.  Sure enough, the door to the restaurant, Ichuri, was at the top of the stairs.

In the plaza, my sights firmly fixed on the rooftop restaurant…
The view to the southwest along Calle Sagarnaga beside the basilica.
The staircase to reach the Ichuri Restaurant.

I found a table under a sunshade on the basilica side of the rooftop.  I sat down to wait for my Paceña beer.  I noticed some male models, a photographer’s assistant, and a photographer taking photographs on the roof.  With the number of clothing changes, I assume the shoot was for a fashion magazine or advertisement.  The relaxing, outdoor environment; the beer; and the sights added to my enjoyment of the moment.

After my leisurely beer, I walked back to the Teleférico for my ride home.

View to the north from Ichuri Restaurant. The Samsung sign reads, “See the bigger picture.”
Models and photographers on the roof of the basilica.
The crest above the basilica’s main entry.
View to the north along Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz.
Public transportation queued up on Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz.
Pedestrians walking along Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz.
Some of the numerous vendor stalls along nearly any busy road.
Some dogs converging in front of the post office.
Traffic by the median of Avenida 16 de Julio.
A cholita walking along Avenida 16 de Julio.
A very, very red building.
A woman walking along the street with several flower arrangements.
The façade of the Brosso Restaurant.
The water fountain in front of the Brosso Restaurant.
Detail of the water fountain in front of the Brosso Restaurant.
Back to Singapore

Back to Singapore

Singapore, Singapore – February 11, 2017

Leaving Chiang Mai, Thailand behind, I arrived back in Singapore around 15:00.  I just lounged in the Marriott Southbeach Hotel, searching the internet for something to do the following day.  I discovered there was an M. C. Escher exhibit at the ArtScience Museum.  I immediately knew that was the place for me the next morning.

M. C. Escher fascinated me from the first time I saw his work when I was a child. He is a world-renown graphic artist. Escher’s life spanned 1898 to 1972.  Born in the Netherlands, he is best known for works such as Relativity and Metamorphosis.

Relativity, M. C. Escher, 1953 Lithograph.

The following morning, I walked the 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) to the ArtScience Museum to ensure I arrived in time for the 10:00 opening.  To get to the museum, one walks across the Helix Bridge.  It is like walking through a metal DNA string.  The overall length of the bridge is 280 meters (918 feet).  It opened to the public in 2010.  The bridge is just one of the amazing architectural features of Singapore.

The Helix Bridge, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, and the ArtScience Museum. Each of them is iconic architectural treasures in Singapore.

The museum is at the base of another architectural marvel, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The hotel is massive, with more than 2,500 hotel rooms. The structure at the top of the hotel is a park. That park is about 340 meters (1,120 feet) long. Most impressive, it includes an infinity-edge swimming pool. The view from the park and pool must be spectacular.

The ArtScience Museum reminds one of the lilies in the ponds in front of the museum. It sort of looks like an overgrown lily blossoming from the waters of Marina Bay. It is the oddest shaped building I have ever entered. However; once inside the exhibition areas, I do not think the spaces belied the unique exterior shape of the building.

People waiting to go into the ArtScience Museum.

I waited at the front of the museum with about a dozen others, waiting for it to open. When it did open, I bought my full-access ticket. I immediately went to the M. C. Escher exhibit. Walking around the corner into the exhibition, I had to stop and catch my breath. Escher made well over 400 lithographs and woodcuts during his career. I found myself viewing nearly half of those. It was astounding!

It was exciting, moving from one lithograph to another, remembering the first time I had seen many of them in my youth. It seemed I had goosebumps nearly every time I viewed a different work. The most surprising work to me was Metamorphosis II. The surprising part was the overall scale of the piece. It spans an amazing 3,895mm by 192mm (12.8 feet by 7.5 inches). I find it fascinating to view such original work.

Metamorphosis II, M. C. Escher, 1939-1940 Woodcut.

In addition to the stunning exhibit, it was just as stunning to realize I had the entire exhibition to myself. Other than docents, there was no one else viewing the works but for me. I walked through the whole exhibit without seeing any other visitors. My photograph of Metamorphosis II demonstrates what the entire show looked like; empty. At the end of the display, I returned to the start to look at some of my favorites pieces again. When I did that, I did encounter others in the exhibit, but very few in total.

Drawing Hands, M. C. Escher, 1948 Lithograph

After my second pass through the exhibit, I stopped in the museum store. Enjoying the presentation so, I had to buy a copy of the museum’s exhibit book. No one else in my family may enjoy the odd hardback book, but I will treasure it for years to come.

The area I enjoyed the most after I left the Escher exhibit was the exhibit dealing with light. There were many beautiful uses of light; although it was a little challenging to capture them with my camera.

Several people taking photos and videos in a light display in the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.

I decided my next stop would be the Singapore Flyer.  I walked back across the Helix Bridge to the Flyer.  The Singapore Flyer ain’t your momma’s Ferris wheel.  It is one of the largest giant observation wheels in the world, at 165 meters (541 feet) tall.  That is nearly the height of two American football fields stacked end to end.  Each of the viewing-pods can hold 28 people.  When I rode the Flyer, there were only five other people in the viewing-pod.  That made it easy to move about and see multiple views.

The four iconic architectural masterpieces and the skyline in Singapore. From left to right; Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Marina Bay Sands Mall, Helix Bridge, and the ArtScience Museum.

The Flyer does not stop to take on or drop off passengers. It moves continuously. There is staff at the transition points to assist passengers on and off. Traveling at roughly 0.76 km/h (0.5 mph), it takes about 30 minutes to make one full revolution. During the revolution, the viewing-pods rotate a full 360 degrees within their housing. That means there is virtually nothing interfering with views from the Flyer out to the various sights.

The viewing-pod “behind” us was a dining-pod. There were no people in that pod while I was there, but it is set to serve a meal to about ten people while floating through the air. That is something for me to try on a future journey.

It was unnerving to crest the top.  The 165 meters are really very high!

At the apex of the Singapore Flyer.

I went back to the hotel to rest until it was time to go to the airport.

The Singapore skyline as seen from the Singapore Flyer.
The Singapore indoor arena as seen from the Singapore Flyer.
The high-rise buildings in Singapore seem to go on forever.
A dining pod on the Singapore Flyer.
The botanic gardens and Strait of Singapore.
Looking through the Singapore Flyer.
The Singapore Flyer sign.
A family reflection in the lily pond in front of the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
A pink lily in the pond in front of the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
A purple lily in the pond in front of the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
People crossing the Helix Bridge in Singapore.
Palm trees in front of the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
Pedestrians on the Helix Bridge. The Singapore Flyer is in the background.
Flowers beside the Helix Bridge in Singapore.
The Singapore Flyer.
A man relaxing on a bench in front of the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
A restaurant in the Marina Bay Sands shopping mall in Singapore.
The shopping mall at the Marina Sands in Singapore.
A fashion photoshoot outside Louis Vuitton in Singapore.
The Louis Vuitton store at Marina Bay in Singapore.
A jogger running past the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
The ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
The ArtScience sign at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
A reflective disk in a lily pond in front of the ArtScience Museum.
Colored light balls in an interactive display in the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
The shadow of a photographer photographing a light show display in the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
A father and son silhouetted in front of a video playing at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
Hand with Reflecting Sphere, M. C. Escher, 1935 Lithograph.
Waterfall, M. C. Escher, 1961 Lithograph.
An evening view of Singapore.
The Singapore skyline.

Missing Laptop!

Missing Laptop!

Frankfurt, Germany – January 17, 2015

Leslie and I left Tallinn, Estonia together. We had an early morning flight to Frankfurt, Germany. It was 06:00 when we departed, about five minutes early. We encountered a few turbulence. It was pitch dark during the entire flight.
We arrived in Frankfurt around 08:00. Leaving the plane, we stumbled upon an electric cart. Even though we did not have a reservation, the woman driving said she would give us a ride to our gate. We thought that was fortuitous since we arrived at concourse A while our flights to the United States were to depart from concourse Z. We both got on the cart with our carry-ons.
I ended up in the rear-facing seat with my carry-on between my legs. I was also carrying my notebook computer and an Estonian newspaper, both of which I placed beside me.
Ultimately, our driver stopped at an elevator. She said we were to go up one floor, go through passport control, and then we would be in concourse Z.
Exiting the elevator, we stood in a short line. I observed a couple of airline employees and some immigration agents. I saw the airline employees looking at people’s boarding passes and passports before letting them cue for immigration. I reached for my passport in my shirt pocket. I noticed my boarding pass was not in my pocket. I remembered I had slipped it into the zippered notebook computer case. Then the bottom of my stomach fell out…I had left the notebook on the seat of the electric cart! I told Leslie. We both left the line and dashed back to the elevator. I was pushing the call-button wildly, trying to get the lift to our floor.
When the elevator finally arrived, I did not let those passengers who were on the elevator off before I pushed my way on. I was afraid that it might be a “one-way” elevator because of the immigration facility. The passengers got off, the doors closed, and we began to descend.
The doors opened again. It so happened the elevators were at an information booth. We quickly related our dilemma to the man at the station. Luckily, Leslie had learned the name of our cart driver as we rode along. She shared that with the man. He began to make a cellphone call to the cart dispatch.
While that was going on, I told Leslie I was going to retrace our steps a little way. When we had earlier passed on of the concourse gates, our driver told someone there she would return for them. I could not remember which gate, but I began a brisk walk in that direction while Leslie waited at the information booth.
After walking a couple of hundred meters with no results, I turned around and started back to Leslie. I felt horrible about my stupidity. When I got within eyesight of Leslie, she was smiling and holding my notebook. That was such a relief.
Oddly enough, I had thought about a similar scenario while I was on the plane. Thinking about that scenario, I vowed to begin traveling with my notebook in my carry-on instead of my good camera. Now it was time to put that into practice. My camera bag has a shoulder strap. That allows for it to be placed around my neck… not forgetting it!
We went back up the elevator, through immigration, and into concourse Z. We were able to sit down at a restaurant for breakfast.
After breakfast, we walked to my gate since my flight departed first. My flight was direct to Dulles. Leslie’s flight was direct to Denver.

Model Lufthansa airplanes on display at the Frankfurt International Airport.
Detail of a model Lufthansa airplanes on display at the Frankfurt International Airport.
Lufthansa airplanes lined up at the gates on a cold January morning.