June Donaldson and Edward Garry live at an altitude of 2,600 metres in Mosoj Llajta, Yotala, 20 minutes from the colonial city of Sucre in Bolivia, South America. Using earth and stones from the land, we have sculpted beautiful buildings which compliment the high desert landscape and incorporate creative and innovative elements of design.

We have designed a high quality hotel in Sucre for guests who want to get off the treadmill of travelling from city to city in South America. At Sky Hacienda you can dictate your own timing and choose how to enjoy your stay, whether it is doing very little or exploring the best that the Andes in Bolivia has to offer.

27 November 2011


Mr Midnight had been a much loved member of our feathered community for the past 14 months.  He had looked after the hens and jumped them on a regular basis with little or no dignity, facilitating the production of delicious eggs all year round. 
But following the clandestine hiding and hatching of eggs by his missus we added another rooster and a hen to the family.  When the rooster, George, became fully grown and starting jumping the hens, Mr M was most put out.  He became at least grumpy and at worst downright vicious toward George.  He stopped him from coming near the daily scraps I put out and kept him away from the hens.  George was nervous and excluded, not having a good life at all, and our feathered friends' happiness was of great importance to us.

Our Bolivian workers, all of whom kept chickens, advised us that two cockerels together was not a good idea.  They also suggested that as Mr M was getting past his prime, it might be a good idea to dispatch him and give George the responsibility as head of the coop.   Although I had been taught in Guatemala how to kill a chicken I was nervous of making a mess of it and causing Mr M suffering, so I asked Carmelo, our caretaker and his wife Lydia to do the deed.  We met at 7 am the following morning and in a couple of minutes Mr M was no more.  Lydia plucked and prepared him and I thanked her and Carmelo for their help, promising to share the planned dish I had in mind.

After hanging him in the dark storage room in our outbuildings for 36 hours I jointed Mr M with a machete - he was a tough old bird, but his flesh was a beautiful dark colour with bright yellow fat under his skin.
I put the joints in a container and poured a bottle of Bolivian red wine to cover.  The container was left in the fridge for 5 days.
Then, following Hugh Fearley-Wittingstall's coq au vin recipe in his marvellous Meat cookbook, and feeling slightly smug that I had a proper cock to cook when he had advised how difficult they were to come by, put Mr M in a very low oven.  Having dismissed Mr HFW's 3-odd hours of cooking time as being insufficient for high altitude cuisine, I started the cooking at 10.30 am and decided to leave the dish in the oven until it was cooked.  At 7.30 in the evening the meat was meltingly tender and Ed and I, after giving thanks to Mr Midnight for providing us with the main ingredient, sat down to one of the best meals of our life. 
The next day we gave some of the dish to Carmelo's family and the rest went into the freezer to await a suitably appreciative diner.  This came in the form of Vincent, our French friend from Sucre who, on eating it, proclaimed that it had taken him back to his childhood when his grandmother used to cook coq au vin with a proper coq.

Mr Midnight was a proper cock! RIP

17 November 2011


Although we had completed the boundary wall and fencing, we were still vulnerable to animals wanting to munch on our newly planted trees in the outer area as we had a gaping hole where the main entrance gate was to be installed.

Our talented welder Phillipe, who had made our metal windows and doors came up to our property to make the gate as, this time, there was no question of him being able to remove it from his workshop.  It is formed from two large gates to allow large lorries and coaches to enter and there is an integral door for walking in and out.

One side of the gate is propped up on wooden blocks to install the hinges.
Ed checks the level with Rosando.
The locking bar is checked.
Both sides of the gate are in place.
Final adjustments to the hinges.
We then make drains to take rainwater underneath the gate, then make a stone driveway to prevent heavy vehicles getting stuck in mud in the rainy season.

06 November 2011


I was born and brought up in Lewes, Sussex, England.  For anyone familiar with this neck of the woods, Lewes is most famous for its bonfire night celebrations.  Protestant martyrs were burnt at the stake above the town during catholic persecutions from 1555-1157 and many of the inhabitants of Lewes have never forgotten this outrage, nor the attempt by Guy Fawkes and his fellow traitors to blow up Parliament on 5th November 1606.  To this day effegies of the Pope, Guy Fawkes - and anyone else considered to have behaved badly during the previous year - are burned in the town and on bonfires lit on the outskirts on the 5th November. 

Although the days of hurling flaming tar barrels into the River Ouse are over, thanks to health and safety regulations, Lewes is still an excitingly scary place to be on November 5th. Proud members of the many Bonfire Societies parade through the streets in costumes and masks (dating back centuries to when young men used  disguise to avoid being arrested for letting off gunpowder in the streets on the big day).  They carry flaming tar torches that pass inches from the faces of onlookers lining the pavements, shout and toss loud bangers into the air on a regular basis, leaving the ears ringing from the noise.  My grandfather was a passionate member of one of the Bonfire Societies and used to take us as very small children to the parades - after his death my father would accompany us to the town centre each year.

I think of the above celebrations as my heritage, as a very important part of my childhood and as there is a large part of me that has never grown up, each year on 5th November I yearn to make the best guy (an effegy of Guy Fawkes), and the biggest bonfire to toss him onto and to set of the noisiest fireworks possible.   Ed and I tried really hard to make it happen last year, but we were so busy trying to make the Roundhouse sufficiently habitable to move into that we couldn't get it together.  But this year was different........
Our caretaker's children Jose-Miguel and Mariana proudly display the guy we made.
Lydia, our caretaker's wife watches the driving rain that threatens our celebrations.

Friends' children arrive hoping for a fun night.
We have a chorizo feast waiting for the bonfire to dry out so that we can light it.
The guy is tossed onto the bonfire.
The flames leap into the sky and as with the fireworks can be seen from all the villages around us.
Our friends enjoy the spectacle.
Ed hands sparklers to the dubious children.
A huge bonfire and loud fireworks - June's happy!
The children overcome their fear and enjoy the sparklers.