Tarata, 35km southeast of Cochabamba, is one of the region’s loveliest towns, a picturesque but decaying beauty that’s worth a visit for its noble buildings, cobbled streets and gorgeous plaza filled with palm trees and jacarandas. The town’s name is derived from the abundant tara trees, the fruit of which is used in curing leather. Tarata is famous as the birthplace of president General Mariano Melgarejo, who held office from 1866 to 1871 and whose remains lie in the town church. While citizens aren’t proud of his achievements, they’re proud of producing presidents (populist military leader René Barrientos, who ruled from 1964 to 1969, was also born here).
Huayculli, 7km from Tarata, is a village of potters and glaziers. The air is thick with the scent of eucalyptus being burned in cylindrical firing kilns. The local style and technique has been passed down from generation to generation and remains unique.