Natural History Museum
This visit merits its own entry. It was a gorgeous day, yet again, in Cochabamba
and I finally got around to visiting one of the highlights of Cochabamba, the house of the tin baron Simon Patino. He basically cornered the market in tin, not only owning most of the mines in Bolivia, which at that time was the largest known lode in the world, but he managed to get control of all the processing and refining too, making him, at the turn of the century, one of the wealthiest men in the world. The Italianate house he built in Cochabamba was never completed before he died. He had a great devotion to his wife and it was dedicated to her. You can´t call it a sprawling mansion, because it´s not so huge, but it´s not just a house either.
It´s really a gorgeous gem of a residence. Every inch shows detail and wealth. The cut of the imported marbles, the intricate parquetry, the amazing wall paintings and frescoes in neo-Renaissance style, the elaborate mythological and zodiacal scenes. There was a small billiard room done entirely in the style of the Alhambra in Granada. The detail was astonishing. Again, it was unfortunate that I couldn´t take pictures. This house could have been featured in a glossy opulent coffee table book. I really want to go again and see it all over again. The grounds and gardens similarly matched the house. I loved the outdoor miniature theater, the lush watery Japanese gardens, the Moorish style swimming pool and casita, and the stately trees and flower beds. The deep, dank, earthy smells suddenly overwhelmed me and for a short time I found myself as a child, in my grandfather´s back yard in Bay Village, Ohio, in the heart of summer and I closed my eyes and relished the sensations, even as it brought some tears to my eyes for nostalgia for my home city and family and times once past that can never be again. I finally snapped out of the reverie and wandered some more through the grounds, not wanting to leave this oasis. But finally I made my way to the gates and stepped outside back to the real world and Bolivia.