Published: September 10th 2012September 10th 2012 Day 325 Friday 31st August
Today we are off to Sucre so we had to pack our bags, have breakfast and get a collectivo taxi which the hotel booked for us. When the driver arrived he parked so close to the door of the hotel on the curb and to the car in front we could only just squeeze through dragging the bags across his bonnet. Then he started talking to us at a hundred miles an hour and we could not pick up a word so we grabbed the woman from to hotel to translate. Things did not sound good when she said “no entiendo” join the club but after a while it was all worked out and he would pick two more passengers up so it was cheaper for us and drop us at our hotel in Sucre. The lady from the hotel is one of the lovely people we have met in Bolivia who wanted to make sure everything was OK. As we headed out of town we again emphasised we wanted another two in the taxi and he indicated it was OK we will pick them up on the way. As we got to the outskirts
of town he did the sign of the cross twice and we were going to need that double blessing. His driving skills were unique as his bomby little car reached speeds of 120km/hr and on hairpin bends he lent his whole body over the steering wheel to turn into the corner it seemed to work for him, but I don’t think I will use this at home I would rather slow down first then turn into the corner. At one point he decided to overtake another car on a hill and things got very dicey as the other car sped up so he could not pass and the truck coming the other way was metres away, we just squeezed in with seconds to spare. An hour into the trip we picked up two more passengers a father and son who appeared to be family by the way they were sharing food and speaking also the speed decreased.
When we reached Sucre and we directed him to our hotel using the Lonely Planet map he seemed a little clueless in the city. Arrived at 12.45pm and checked into La Posada which is an expensive hotel but it appears to be
Old Colonial Building
very nice at this stage. Dropped our bags off and went out for a walk to get our bearings and got a sandwich at a nearby café. Later that evening just as we stepped out the door we bumped into Ken and Donna who had been on the Convento tour yesterday so we all headed to the Joy Ride Café for drinks and dinner. It was a great night talking and as we left we made arrangement to meet tomorrow or as I discovered today as it was 2.00am in the morning. Day 326 Saturday 1st September
Despite a fairly heavy late night we both woke up feeling fairly well and were ready to explore the town. After a nice buffet breakfast we went for a long walk around the town and at one point found ourselves down at the food market. As would be expected it was filled lots of sights, sounds and smells, both good and bad. The centre plaza is a lovely tree filled park and we stopped there for a while to once again take in the sights. Shops are a bit thin on the ground and considering the volume of
Teatro Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho
tourists in the town there isn’t many souvenir shops. Didn’t buy anything but it was a good morning and the town is very pretty with some beautiful old colonial style buildings. Thankfully Sucre has strict building regulations and they have been able to hold onto all their fabulous old buildings and stop any high rises from cluttering the view. Sucre as stated in the Bolivian constitution is in fact the capital of Bolivia and not La Paz, despite all the Government offices being in La Paz. So when you hear that La Paz is the highest capital city in the world, it really isn’t, Quito in Ecuador is.
Whilst walking around we enquired about getting a bus out to the nearby town of Tarabuco, which apparently has a good Sunday markets selling hand woven rugs, (Oh God not more rugs). The information we got back was less than cryptic so we decided to hold off booking the bus till we see Donna and Ken tonight who were interested in going.
At 5 we headed up to Florin and met Donna and Ken for a quiet drink or two, but before the night got out of hand I ran
around the block to a travel agent to check out about that bus for tomorrow. Luckily this time I got someone that spoke English and she explained that no bus would be running tomorrow as there would be no vehicles allowed in the town. Unsure of the reason but at least it meant that we wouldn’t be buying another rug….aaaaaahhhhh. Ran back to the pub to tell the girls the good/bad news and then went back to the hotel to ring Dad for Father’s Day. Finally around 7 got back to the Pub where we decided to head to find a better choice of food and after walking around town for an hour we found ourselves back at Florin. The Pub is fairly good but the drinks and food is a bit pricey and we discovered that the meals don’t come with everything that is quoted on the menu. After such a big night last night we were all feeling buggered and call an early night of 11, which was sort of a shame as a band was setting up to play. Got back to our Hotel to discover how close the Florin Pub was to our room as we
Mini Eiffel Tower
could hear the band perfectly, they sounded pretty good, not that I heard much of them as I was asleep within two minutes of my head hitting the pillow. Day 327 Sunday 2nd September
Woke up to a very quiet town and after our great breakfast we headed onto the streets to see what the lack of ruckus was and discovered that the tour agent woman hadn’t lied to us…there were no cars. The streets were filled with families, kids on bikes and dogs. The Bolivian’s love to put their dogs in clothing, most are just the jackets that protect their loved pets from the Bolivian cold nights but some actually had pants as well…very strange.
It was a beautiful warm day so we headed off to the plaza followed by a short trip to seek out a shopping mall. Found a small one that had a cinema so we may do a movie over the next couple of days. We then took a long walk out to Parque Bolivar and it was so great just walking the streets without the worry of being run over by a manic driver. Unsure what the reasoning for
Donna, Ken and us at Florin
the “no car day” was but it seemed everyone in town was out and about and enjoying it. Discovered even more old impressive buildings including the town theatre, supreme courts and hospital, before we finally reached the park. The centrepiece of Parque Bolivar is a miniature version of the Eiffel tower that was actually designed by Mr Gustav himself. We have now seen this guy’s work all over South America and also in Vietnam and I am starting to believe the guy either never slept or he lived for 200 years, he was prolific. Sucre’s version of the Paris icon was a kid’s play thing with a spiral staircase going up to the top, and despite the age of it the Bolivian kids were loving it.
Because of the volume of people out and about we had expected a lot of food stalls to be about but there were hardly any. Also expected some form of entertainment like live performances but we didn’t come across any. We walked around for a few hours till we found ourselves back at the town markets where I picked up some music CD’s and Shelley got a shirt. Returned to our room for the afternoon before heading out for dinner at 5. Hardly anything was open so unfortunately/fortunately we found ourselves back at Florin. The meal was better tonight so it ended up being a good call. On the way home we discovered a parade going around the Plaza so we went down for a while to watch. We think there is a huge festival in town next weekend and tonight was a bit of a dry run. It was great listening to the huge marching band and watching the dancers going through their routines. The whole thing was topped off with heaps of fireworks, some of which was set off right under the noses of spectators and dancers. One lot of skyrockets sprayed up the side of one of the historic buildings with sparks splattered under the eaves…probably not the safest or smartest things to be doing. When the parades finally petered out we headed back to the room. Day 328 Monday 3rd September
Our alarm clock this morning was the school next door which had kids screaming and playing at 7 am…Oh well, might as well get up. The town of Sucre like just about every town in South America is filled with Churches, monasteries, and convents and most are now either museums or are open to tourists. We had sort of planned on visiting a couple today, but you know we are sort of both over all that gold and silver religious stuff and think we need a small break from it. Decided instead to go on yet another long walk around town, which is a great option as Sucre, despite being a big city, does have a really nice gentle vibe and it was yet again another beautiful warm sunny day.
Probably the only thing we really needed to get done today was a bus ticket out of town. Our plan had been to get a day bus to the city of Ouro but discovered we could only get a night bus and because of that we thought we might as well get a bus right through to La Paz. The woman assured us that the bus was not only a quality bus but it also had a toilet on board. So we now know that we will also have another full day here in Sucre with us getting the bus at 7.30 tomorrow night.
On our walk we passed a protest at the main plaza that seemed to have come to a halt with everyone just standing around on the road and sitting in the gutter. The guide we had at the mint in Potosi explained that everyday in every city in Bolivia you will have one of three events, a religious festival, a parade or a demonstration so we should just get used to it. Another regular occurrence in Bolivia is blockades and in fact the road between Potosi and Sucre had been blockaded the day before our trip but thankfully it was cleared by the time we left. We have been told that no Bolivian experience is complete without a delay at a blockade, so we are expecting one sooner or later. Haven’t heard anything bad happening to tourists at these blockades or protest other than long delays but I do remember one story about the town of Uyuni being blockaded for 3 weeks…and I am sure that would not have been funny.
Shelley managed to pick up some more clothing on our walk but once again I dipped out again, (queue sad violins). Stopped at a café overlooking the plaza for a sandwich and a milk shake before heading back to the room. At 5 we once again headed out for drinks and dinner with Donna and Ken. Had a few drinks at Florin before moving onto a pizza, pasta place for a feed. Sucre has been a great place but was made even better by having the company of these fellow travellers. We probably could have had another big night except we were all feeling a bit wrecked and called it quits at 11. Tomorrow we are heading onto Copacabana, whilst Donna and Ken stay in Sucre learning Spanish, which is probably what we should be doing. Day 329 Tuesday 4th September
Both felt super tired in the morning and it took a supreme effort to drag ourselves out of bed. Had breakfast and then packed our bags to go, but as our bus wasn’t leaving till 7.30 tonight we hung around in the room till midday. When we went to check out the guy on reception was way too busy with paperwork to pay us much attention and had to wait half an hour till he was ready to serve us…..lucky we weren’t in a hurry.
The hotel stored our bags whilst we went off to see a movie, our first in South America. Saw Batman which was only subtitled in Spanish so we at least could understand it, well as much as you can understand a Batman movie. We had expected the cinema to be packed but in the end there were only 6 others.
Had dinner at a café before returning to our hotel at 6 to get our bags and then got a taxi out to the bus terminal. Once again we got a really nice taxi driver who gave us directions to our bus at the terminal. We had to check our luggage in at the counter on the first floor and then went downstairs to the bus and waited to leave. Just before going our luggage was lowered by rope from the floor above and loaded onto the bus, lucky no one was standing underneath when our bags came down. At 7.45 we got underway for the long journey to La Paz, and it started by us returning through Potosi.