viernes, 14 de mayo
Time to leave Potosi, its one tourist attraction well and truly exploited (just like the mountain). Before that however time to enjoy children dressed up in their best suits (or Dad´s in some cases) marching through the streets in honour of some bicentenary or other. One little kid tried to rob Jasper under the pretense of an interest in his home currency. He failed, the little sh*t.
The bus we caught (still 9 of us in tow) was not the luxury we had become accustomed to in South America but a local one. The body of it was way too high for the wheels. Old ladies could not get on. At least not without crawling on their knees first. It was even more difficult for them outside the bus station where many waited to avoid the 1 Boliviano (10p) departure tax. The bus was hugely overbooked and the elderly and infirmed sat in the aisles. What? We´re not giving up our seats (especially since we paid three times what the locals did).
The bus was sooooo close to hitting a lorry on a risky overtake. The horn sound still rings throughout our ears (writing this
one month retrospectively).
Our new home, Sucre, in Central Bolivia is otherwise known as the White City. We´ll explain another day. We checked in at the Pachamama Hostal and readied ourselves for some booziness. We´ve not had very much at all this trip and so we looked forward to it massively. The night went pretty much as follows;
* start at Florin - Dutch-run pub - for dinner and drinks. 4 pint pitchers $3.80 (there´s no pound sign).
* Happy Hour - 2 for 1 caipirinhas (70p each)
* onto Joyride - Italian-run pub/club - 2 for 1 caipiroskas
* onto Nitos - er...it´s hazy
Absolutely rinkety splinkety on 12 quid. Both of us. Better sleep this one off. sabado, 15 de mayo
Forever shall be known as ´football day´. And mercifully Hayley slept through it with her hangover, a marching band walking its way from her left ear to her right. Through some miracle of water into wine proportions (pretty apt in the circumstances) I managed to join Dan and Jasper for the FA Cup Final - 9.30am Bolivian time. As always with these things there is usually some motivation behind the scenes, the promise of the
"best English breakfast in Bolivia" going some way to explain things.
The best English breakfast in Bolivia, as it may well be, was for want of a better word - disgusting. Sh*t may describe it better. Bacon fattier than a Texan, sausages just hot dogs, beans blacker than a miner´s nostril and by now we should know South Americans can´t make bread. The only way this could be a hangover cure is through induction of vomiting.
F.A. Cup was quite good though. And it came with a proper cup of tea.
The afternoon was a bit of a write-off (as you would expect if you know either of us) and in the evening we decided to scout the local league - Universitario Sucre v. La Paz FC. The Bolivian league works like Scotland, i.e. the football is cr*p. Not really, it splits from 12 teams to 2 sixes halfway through. Both these teams are in the reject half. La Paz FC aren´t even the city´s second best team. Could be a dull one.
We arrived at the 30,000 Estadio Olimpico Patria with around 15 minutes to kick-off at 6pm. Hang on, why aren´t the lights on?
It´s darker than this mornings baked beans here. We put it down to Bolivians scrimping on the electricity, though it seems a bit unfair to make the players warm up in the dark. One most definitely took one in the balls. He was prostrate for about ten minutes. Couldn´t see any leakage.
Estadio Patria doesn´t have seats as such, more large steps which double up. We (being the 9 less 2 of the girls not interested) found a beautiful seat mid-tier on the halfway line. Not bad for 15 Bolivianos, or 1.50. Why haven´t the locals beat us to this? They are all huddled up at the back like dogs at the vet knowing the next one selected gets to try out a new brand of bullet. That cloud looks ominous, everything seems to be competing for what´s blackest today. We´re not keen on this wind either. The taxi driver told us it NEVER rains in Sucre, quite vehemently too we will be fine.
And with that, the Lord Almighty tipped a bucket of water on each of our heads. The rush to the covered part of the stand would have proved interesting to anybody studying similarities between
human and buffalo. The biggest fork lightning any of us has ever seen struck the sky. John Goodman would have relished such a fork. Still the lights have not come on. The players have gone in now. The 5 year olds selling Coke and popcorn still trudge through though, just 10p a drink. You can´t get a pig anus pie at Anfield for our ticket and refreshments here.
At 6.45 to the tune of 10,000 whistles the lights kicked into life and the game started. And we were right about similarities to Scottish football. Awful. Still, we saw four goals (3-1 to Sucre), a red card, a missed red and 2 twenty five yard scorchers. It was like Shaolin Soccer. Despite such enthralling entertainment (at this level perhaps the locals are used to 8-7s) the crowd barely got off the ground, always at their loudest when somebody missed. It was very much a family affair, the old ladies and their blanket babies get everywhere. Just like sand on the beach.
Fireworks signalled the end of the game, not long after some kid had passed out on Julie (he stank too). Time to turn the stadium into a toilet.
Also time to go home. domingo, 16 de mayo
Coming to Sucre we had rich ideas of canyoning and river tubing in the nearby area. Our best laid plans destroyed by the knowledge that for just the two of us it would cost 700 Bolivianos each, but if just 2 more people came it would be 300. Nobody is in Sucre, so we´re screwed. We chose to hit the city instead.
Sucre is called the White City because everybody here looks like Barry White. Also because all of the buildings have been whitewashed. Not on the outskirts of the city of course; they maintain the grotty grey as befits the slums where the tourists avoid. The whole place is supremely colonial despite the fact this is where independence was gained. Fight all you can for your identity, but then leave everything in its place. Why not?
There isn´t much more to say except the Dutch seem to be everywhere. How about a Bolivian list?;
1. So far, the friendliest of the nations
2. Seemingly the least nationalistic (hence friendliness) but the most traditional
3. Everybody looks old or the young don´t exist
4. Llama jumpers are everywhere
5. Nobody smokes (probably because of Coca). Therefore the volume of inconsiderate, selfish w*nkers is less.
6. Cameras have demons in them.
7. Baby transport is the least safe. lunes, 17 de mayo
So far three whole days in Sucre but not a lot of touristy happenings going on. A situation which required serious remedy. And what better medicine than a bright blue open-topped truck with a dinosaur head poking out the front? Doesn't get much more touristy than that. We've been in souvenir shops less flagrantly aimed at non-locals.
You might wonder why we boarded a truck with a dinosaur head poking out. First let's make it clear it's not a real dinosaur head. It looked good, but probably papier mache. Jurassic Park would not look out of place in some of the surrounding valleys but also, no. Just some footprints.
Actually, we've undersold that. They are just footprints but it's pretty cool. Certainly something neither of us have ever seen before. The footprints reside up in a hall at the top of Sucre's suburbs. They were found in the stroke of luck type that would have you buy a lottery ticket or hit on a hottie had it happened to you. Well, it took an earthquake levelling the city first but you buy your own luck. In the aftermath the government commissioned the mining of concrete in the nearby hills leaving a sheer rock face. The concretey (it's a word) bit left slowly eroded away to reveal what looked like tracks from the top of the bottom.
All of this was explained to us by an extravagant Bolivian, enthusiastic in repeating each sentence several times and overusing the word guys as to destroy its meaning. He used simple aids to make his point such as a scratchcard to illustrate erosion ("the numbers are the tracks guys"). He made sure everybody saw what it looked like. Half the tour group stifled laughter, the other half couldn't. He did well to convert the non-believers too although the word tectonic seems to be a watchword in South America. It explains everything, even the price of condoms in Santa Fe.
In the afternoon the group slowly disintegrated. Kelsey, Alex and Laura to La Paz, Dan to Santa Cruz with the other three staying. We leave for Samaipata tomorrow. martes, 18 de mayo
Since our bus was an evening one we had more time to kill. That's why you have to go 6 months to allow for erratic timetables. We plus Kate headed to the mirador at the top of the city to enjoy the view. It was nice, but only from up here can you truly appreciate the dominance of the religious buildings. We didn't stay that long.
Forgot to mention yesterday I got my first haircut over here. Was a terrifying experience, the lady obsessed with "muy cortito" which I rebuffed but then made her mad by getting her to cut it a little shorter, then shorter until it finally was muy cortito. Luckily everybody survived.
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