Pretty and Pious

Cochabamba, not only is it a fun word to say but it is even a prettier town to visit. Lush palm trees line the streets, vendors set up shop along the sidewalks and almost everywhere you look you see a familiar face – Jesus Christ.

A hilltop mirador of Jesus Christ looks out over Cochabamba

The city has a very unique vibe, one that is strictly Catholic. Mammoth stone churches are a dime a dozen in lovely Cocha and Jesus paraphernalia is everywhere. Has your search for the perfect Jesus-related poster become a thorn in your side? No worries, faithful follower. Come to Cochabamba, known as the city of eternal spring, there is plenty of Catholic-related merchandise to go around.

Churches abound in Cochabamba

At first, the Jesus-love that lingers in the air of Cocha may seem a little difficult to swallow but once you take a tour of Convento Santa Teresa it becomes obvious the important role religion has played throughout the history of this pious town. Erected in 1760, it became the fashion for Cochambaminos to send their eldest daughter to the convent in order to ensure eternal paradise for the entire family. It was so popular that soon the convent had a waiting list for new inductees who were forced to wait upon the death of an elder nun before they could enter the convent.

Jesus is the homeboy at Convento Santa Teresa

Mannequins with real human hair are worshiped at the convent

Life inside the convent was strict. The order of cloistered Carmelite nuns were only allowed to speak with there family once a month for one hour, separated by a thick curtain and steal bars to prevent physical interaction. Communication within the convent was limited to one hour a day and social activities, like eating, were done in complete silence.

It was not until the 1960s that the Vatican declared the living conditions of cloistered nuns intolerable and encouraged them to reenter into society. However, for many of the nuns at Santa Teresa, a different life seemed unthinkable and many rejected the offer. Today, a few nuns still live in the convent which has been largely transformed into a museum.

Besides it’s love affair with the Catholic religion, Cochabamba offers a wonderful break from the backpacker lifestyle. Parisian cafes, Mexican cantinas and wood oven pizzas will tantalize your taste buds and persuade you to kick off your hiking boots and call Cocha home for a few days. Not a bad decision, I dare say.

Cochambamba is full of character

Oranges and tamales for lunch

Palm trees and religion, a daring combination

The local foot traffic of Cochabamba