(a reminder of last summer's activities)
San Felipe Neri - former entrance to Monastery and towers
Wednesday, June 13
A productive but confusing day. After breakfast at what may be the only wireless equipped café-bar in Bolivia, I entered the Archivo Nacional. Not surprisingly, my registration from 2 years ago could not be found. I had a meeting with the Director, Doctora Marcela Inche, the President of the Associacion de Estudios Bolivianos – I helped organize their first international conference in New Orleans. With the friendly help of a librarian in the reading room, I finally completed my registration, was photographed and became scholar #824. During the days prior to the arrival of Linda and Kelly, I will use the comfortable facilities of the Archivo to prepare for my lecture there on July 5 (translating my Art History Paper on Arzáns and Holguín into Spanish) and an article for Yachaspa, the newsletter of the Bolivia and Peru Peace Corps alumni group. In this case, I am translating a paper I wrote for the Andean Literature course into English.
Dtra. Inche showed me a group of painted texts from the 18th century, which she referred to as “pasquines.” These were broadsheets created during much of the colonial period complaining of the actions of the Spanish government. This pasquine was written and painted by an itinerant Argentine shoemaker, barber, blood-letter who had traveled and worked in Córdoba to Potosí and Lima. Apparently, there are other pasquines in the collection, many of them in verse. I was thinking more in terms of earlier chronacles of discovery and settlement, but this is certainly a potentidsally interesting way of understanding the colonial period.
The documents in Bolivia’s archive are arranged according to size to use the limited climatically controlled storage space as efficiently as possible. Like other archives, you need to request a document using card-catalogues that are hardly descriptive of a document’s content. Consequently, browsing is impossible. There is a cronological listing and I may find myself requesting every plausible manuscript until I find something that is suggestive. Where are the original Arzáns sheets (over a thousand)? Is there a facsimile edition – the 3-volume set prepared by Hanke and Mendoza presents the text and only a few illustrations.
Tuesday night, I returned to the Hostal unusually late. I had taken Darío and Camen Julia out for dinner on my birthday. I entered the dark courtyard and looked up at the stars. At 11 o’clock, Sucre becomes quiet and, with few streetlights and very thin air, the stars and planets glow with an intense light – an extreme contrast from New Orleans’ moisture laden air and general urban glow. The courtyard of this one-story hotel, originally a house built in the 17th century, the patio is filled with direct sunlight during the day and is sufficiently protected from the street to feel like an urban oasis. The residents sun themselves during the day while they write postcards home. The Quebecquois left a few days ago to be replaced by a group from Israel. Otherwise, we are from Australia, Germany and Brazil, but that changes daily.