Friday, 12 April 2013

Hacienda Cayara

From Sucre we hired a driver to take us to Potosi to a very odd Hacienda out in the country, that we'd heard about from an American in La Paz.
Potosi has (had) enormous reserves of silver and basically bankrolled the Spanish from it's  discovery in 1545. The Spanish monarchy relied entirely on this hill of silver 'Cerro Rico' for it's wealth and opulence, using slave labour from Africa to work in appallingly dangerous  conditions.
It became the wealthiest city in the Americas until the silver more or less dried up, and now there are small cooperative mines dotted all over the hillside, eking out a meagre living, still in very dangerous conditions.

Our Hacienda Cayara is 20 km out of town and dates back from those colonial times, being owned by some Maquis or another who eventually(childless) sold it an English/French/Spanish family in the early 1900's, leaving scattered buildings full of antiques, books, paintings, furniture etc which the current custodian Alturo is still cataloging and restoring.

The private chapel has only been unearthed in the last year or so and they are still discovering all sorts of things.  Restoration of the chapel is nearly complete one -they employ a full time professional restorer to work on it. They opened up as a hotel in 1992 and now well received by such groups as CondeNaste and business is going well. The library is extraordinary including priceless collections dating back 400 years.

We didn't even bother going into town - just walked in the hills for hours each day. We experienced the most amazing hospitality from the hosts, the staff and their visitors - much whiskey and wine and hugs and kisses by the end of the stay. 

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