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Chapels of Curahuara and Sajama

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Cotasaya Capilla

Cotasaya Capilla, with Nevado Sajama in the Background

Some 2.8 miles beyond the turn for Kellua Kota is another dirt road off to the left. Cotasaya Capilla is two miles off the main road. Not much information is available about the chapel in Cotasaya, but its architecture makes clear that it dates from the same period as the other colonial chapels in the region. In any case, its location and its backdrop of the Sajama Stratovolcano make it a photogenic chapel.

The Chapel at Cotasaya was preserved with funding from the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation in 2012 and 2013. When the work was completed, we scheduled with the local communities ceremonies celebrating reopening of the churches. I couldn’t go, unfortunately, as I had to travel to Santa Cruz on urgent business, so Tatyana went, together with Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Mitch Ferguson.

This post is part of a series of posts I am calling the Guide to Chapels of Curahuara and Sajama.

Tatyana and Mitch with Local Leaders

The Bolivian Army’s Mountain Battalion is Based in Curahuara de Carangas and Attended the Ceremony

The Commander of the Mountain Battalion; the Bishop of Oruro; the Local Leader and Padre Gabriel Antequera, the Local Priest All Presided Over the Ceremony

My Beautiful Tatyana

And the Band Played On

German Ambassador Philipp Schauer, the Author of Tour Guide of Iglesias La Paz Y Oruro, Dancing with the Locals

Cute Women . . .

. . . and Children

The Altar, Prepared for Ceremony

Details Above the Altar

Bell Tower Detail, with Alexandra

The Locals Decorated the Entryway with a Mounted Andean Mountain Cat

I was very excited to see this mounted, or stuffed, Andean mountain cat in the photos taken at this event. I was privileged to see an Andean mountain cat run across the road once as I drove around the Sajama, but the glimpse I got was fleeting and I wasn’t certain what I had seen until I saw these photos. The Andean mountain cat is an endangered species. Never successfully held in captivity; Andean mountain cats die soon after being taken. Only some 2,500 are believed to survive today, mostly in the high altitudes of the Andes and only in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru.  The Andean cat primarily hunts the mountain vizcacha, a cousin of the chinchilla. Researchers suspect that the cat previously also hunted the chinchilla, but humans have hunted the chinchilla to extinction in most of its natural range, and close to extinction where it still exists.

Andean Mountain Cat, Closer Up

Local peoples hold the Andean mountain cat as sacred, but that doesn’t seem to be a protection for the cats. In fact, since their skins are used in local ceremonies, particularly the marking ceremonies for their llama and alpaca herds, hunting them has likely contributed to the decline in their populations which is suspected.

Mountain Vizcacha

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