In 1542 a group of Spanish colonizers settled in the Kjocha-Pampa valley. Ten years later, on August 2nd, 1571, by orders of viceroy Toledo the new city was founded under the name of Villa de Oropeza in honor of the viceroy whose title was Count of Oropeza. Three years later, on January 1st, 1574 the nominal foundation was made by Sebastián Barba de Padilla under orders of viceroy Toledo too. The new city was established along the shores of the Rocha river. From the early days of its existence, the valley showed hints of its natural wealth. At the height of Potosí's silver boom, thanks to its wheat and corn production as well as its cattle abundance, the valley became the source of food for the miners in Potosí as well as for other nearby regions. When Potosí's boom declined in the early 18th century, so did the demand for Cochabamba's products. By the mid-19th century, however, the economic crisis faded away and the city gained back its position as the nation's granary. Currently, Cochabamba is a progressive and economically active city.
Climate and population Cochabamba, the third largest city in Bolivia, is situated some 240km SE of La Paz. It lies in a fertile valley at over 2500m above sea-level, surrounded by mountains - most dominantly Mt Tunari. Its weather is mild and pleasant (hence the name' City of Eternal Spring') and is considered to be the best in the country with warm, sunny days and cool nights. Its population is edging up towards the 1 million mark. Popular tourist excursions form Cochabamba include Incachaca, the coca-regions of the east, the ruins of Incarakay, beautiful Lago Angostura, and the largest Christ statue in the world. Few people would come to Cochabamba to see the sights of the city; apart from El Cristo there are few big attractions to draw the tourists in, for it is, above all, a working city.
The real Cochabamba
As with many South American cities, the wealthy tend to be in the centre and the poor to the edge - literally 'on the edge'. El Alto, that huge sprawling mega-city that sprung out of La Paz sits on the rim of the enormous crater that holds the (unofficial) capital of Bolivia. El Alto is on the edge on every way.
Similarly the southern edges of Cochabamba hold the poor barrios, some with no services at all. Sumumpaya is part of this 'edge' community. Here peope live their lives as they have for decades; they expect nothing from the centre, although the empowerment of the people being introduced by the Morales government may change the peoples' perception of who they are, their value and the contribution they can make to society; the approach to life that says 'someone else will do it for me' or 'I'll just muddle by' is everywhere and takes a lot of breaking down.
But for all traditional - and rural - peoples, change is a very hard word to put into action and mission work is a continual fight against entrenched attitudes and opinions and ways of doing things. But the fight is worthwhile, for it is the call of God.