Issue - March 2010

March 2010


In this edition, Timothy Hillgarth writes about his interview with the soccer player William Ramallo and his club "Pelota de trapo"; Henrik Beckmann reflects his experiences teaching English at Universidad Mayor de San Simon; Moreover Lena Midrez gives an insight into Cochabamba's new second hand store "Kuriosa" and ultimately Walter Sanchez describes how the Cuellar Lagoon became Stadium Felix Capriles. read more...

March 2010

The Cuellar Lagoon

A place where you can learn more about Bolivian history and culture throughout books.

Walter Sánchez C.
Instituto de Investigaciones

Translated by
Miguel Ajhuacho
Natalia Rodríguez
Cintya Castro

"April 3rd (1933). Sunday. We went to the movies in Cochabamba…we ate at the club and went to the Cuellar lagoon,…we rowed down the lake singing and laughing, it was a starry night, but there were flashes of lightning every once in a while ". The story from violinist María Luisa Velarde could not be clearer. She notes the presence of Cuellar’s lagoon on the spirit of the young people who used to gather on small barges to row, recite poems, sing in chorus and laugh happily.

It was not surprising that Cuellar lagoon was, during the first half of the XXth century, one of the most frequented places by young people from the elite of the small city of Cochabamba. The lagoon possessed a bar where parties were organized. María Luisa Velarde gives an insight into how these meetings used to be around 1933: “September 14th. The `Feminine Catholic Youth´ has prepared a nice party at the Cuellar lagoon. There was a lot of enthusiasm and the girls worked brilliantly, I hope that the end results, destined for the wounded people of the war, are going to be good. There were good friends among the crowd… It was dark already, and, like in a mirror, the stars from the sky were reflected in the lagoon’s water. There were lights and fireworks on the central island”. These young people were not the only ones that used to attend to this marvelous place. The children of manual laborers and peasants used to visit the lagoon too, mainly during the Festival of San Andrés. On this occasion, they used to swing from old branches of trees, swings (wallunk´as ) adorned with flowers, so that young ladies would go on them. This event was accompanied with happy charango and acrodolas (instruments like the accordion, but smaller), and popular satirical folk songs sung by single women.

A tourist booklet called Cochabamba was published in the 1940s which gave an idea of the image that this lagoon had: “No traveler will forget their visit to the Cuellar Lagoon, where man merely completed the work of nature. The lagoon is located at the end of the Prado, right in the middle of the city amongst the melancholic greenness of the willow trees. The Cuellar lagoon has a Lamartine charm that invites secret whispers and evokes the vision of landscapes that remind us of the beautiful lakes that have inspired artists. The lagoon, with its delicate boats that carry the sweet freight of loving couples in the moonlit nights, with its blissful memories of our grandparents, and, on the summer nights, when the fresh breeze blows, dissolves the luminous dust of the stars that shine in Cochabamba’s blue sky in the quietness of its water. At the Cuellar lagoon, which is home to real swans, you can listen to juvenile orchestras that play along to the beat of emotional violins with Zamudio’s unforgettable verses; verses that have become extremely popular within the Cochabamba community”.

There are no Colonial reports of the existence of this lagoon. Oral tradition indicates that the lagoon was formed naturally from Rocha river overflows however, other versions suggest that it is artificial having been built by a landowner called Cuellar. What is not disputed is that in the 1920’s the Cuellar Lagoon was one of the most visited places in Cochabamba. By that time on one of its banks a big house existed to offer several services: food, drinks and boat hire.

Public news about this lagoon became frequent once President Bautista Saavedra was authorized to purchase the lagoon from the Cuellar family between 1920- 1923. With this purchase, the lagoon became fiscal property and a whole transformation process began with the construction of walks and recreation grounds. The most important change was the designation of the area for grounds in which sports can be practiced and, specifically, by the law of December 3rd 1923 for “the construction of a Stadium aimed at physical exercise” for the people of the city. Therefore a soccer field was rapidly built. During the 1930’s these works went on with the construction of small stands, which were carried out by the Paraguayan prisoners of the Chaco War. However it was in 1938 when the most important works for the Stadium’s construction started. Advances were fast and in the 1940’s the lagoon coexisted with a concrete structure.

In the 1920’s the Cuellar Lagoon was one of the most visited places in Cochabamba

A feature in a local magazine gave evidence of the new recreational and sports grounds and the benefits of the willow and molle trees with walks around them and benches to rest on: “On the acquired places and at the most picturesque of the region of the city of Cochabamba, the Stadium is being built that may be considered one of the best ones of the country, surrounded with a beautiful Bar, on the lake of the same name, the Lagoon was one of the most frequented places in town by high society. The conclusion of this work worries the Committee which is directed by the Prefect Department”.

The changes to this place deepened when on September 19th 1945, President LCT Gualberto Villarroel emitted a law in which the Cuellar lagoon was transferred to Cochabamba’s Pro- Stadium Committee. The law in question stated that: “Given that the Hon. National Convention has sanctioned the following law: DEGREE: Article 1. Transfer Cochabamba’s Pro-Stadium Committee, the fiscal property called ‘Cuellar lagoon’, must be nominated the sports ground, which thus formed ‘Stadium Cochabamba’. Article 2. The conservation, administration and exploitation of the different sports will be managed under the position and benefice of the ‘Stadium Cochabamba’. Article 3. Cochabamba’s Prefecture will intervene in the extension of the titles that accredit the right of the mentioned entity”. Two changes are important to mention owing to the fact that they completely modify the Cuellar Lagoon’s landscape and its surroundings: (1) the canalization of the Rocha River in order that the flooding water do not enter the lagoon, (2) the drying of the lagoon with the aim of habilitating new sports areas for other sports. This will all need to be finished for the purpose of the America Goblet in 1963; the lagoon must be completely dried out in order to build soccer fields for national and foreign teams’ training part in this international sports competition.

Ever since, the landscape of what was the ancient walk and Cuellar lagoon will be dominated by the soccer Stadium 'Felix Capriles', the "auxiliary playing fields", the playing field of k’ajcha (Basque ball) and the tracks for athletes to practice on.

Calendario marzo 2010

Exposición de acuarelas Viernes 19 de febrero al viernes 5 de marzo
Richard Bourgogne

Ciclo de cine “Historias de amor”
Hora: 19.00
Lunes 1º
“Eres muy guapo”- Isabelle Mergault

Martes 2
“Juntos, nada más”- Claude Berri

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