Lighting the Liberty Bell, an Independence Day postscript

Boston has one, and so does Sucre.

The bell that rallied all freedom loving Latin Americans to the fight against colonial Spain can be found in the in the Central Market area of Sucre. Built in 1538, Iglesia de San Francisco is famed for its role in the independence revolution of 1825.

As part of the Independence Day celebrations we were allowed to go right into the bell tower to see the bell close up…but the real excitement came as darkness fell and the ‘Liberty Flame’ was ignited.

The Bell that sounded Bolivian Independence, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Boliiva

The Bell that sounded Bolivian Independence, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Bolivia

Legend has it that the patriots who rang the bell to announce the revolution hit it so hard they almost cracked it in half – that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration, but it does have a pretty big crack in it.

The Bell that sounded Bolivian Independence, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Boliiva

The Bell that sounded Bolivian Independence, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Bolivia

The Iglesia de San Francisco is quite beautiful, inside and out, and as night fell anticipation began to rise. The military were out in force – although their main role seemed to be to sing the national anthem.

Soldiers at Bolivian Independence, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Boliiva

Soldiers at Bolivian Independence, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Bolivia

Sunset and dignitaries gathered.

Bolivian Independence celebrations, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Boliiva

Bolivian Independence celebrations, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Bolivia

Then this guy appeared in the bell tower. If he looks a bit anxious as he puts his ‘safety’ gloves on there is a good reason, he certainly deserves to feel a bit nervous given what he had to do next. Bolivian’s tend to take a fairly relaxed approach to health and safety, but even by Bolivian standards he has to have one of the least enviable jobs in the country.

Bolivian Independence celebrations, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Boliiva

Bolivian Independence celebrations, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Bolivia

First turn off the back lighting, then gather your main dignitaries, find a cigarette lighter…

Bolivian Independence celebrations, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Boliiva

Bolivian Independence celebrations, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Bolivia

…then whoosh, ignite the flame of liberty and step back as quickly as possible.

Bolivian Independence celebrations, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Boliiva

Bolivian Independence celebrations, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Bolivia

Time to celebrate still having eyebrows, but we all know this is a future Darwin Awards contender…

Bolivian Independence celebrations, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Boliiva

Bolivian Independence celebrations, Iglesia de San Francisco, Sucre, Bolivia

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