After the long overnight journey from Rurrenabaque, we decided to stay the night in La Paz before catching the bus to Sucre the next day. Now as Sucre is 14 hours away, buses seemed only to run overnight, via Potosi. We headed to the bus station at around five o'clock for our 6:30 bus but of course the bus was late, in fact later than two other buses that were bound for Sucre much to the disgust of the locals who were waiting around. It was almost worth the delay for he amusement of watching them standing around slagging off the bus company (trans copacabana) on their mobile phones to all their friends and relatives while the staff cowered in their office from the mob.
After we eventually set off, we realised that we were in over our heads as all of the locals were carrying big thick blankets which they broke out as the temperature began to drop. We put on all the cloths and jackets that we had with us and cuddled together for as much warmth as possible but alas we were still completley frozen as the bus ascended above the 4000m point. Thankfully at about 2am
one of the local woman took pity on us and lent us her spare blanket- we must have looked sufficiently pathetic cowering together for warmth for her to take pity on us. Of course we were still freezing but not to the point of pain.
As the sun began to rise and warm us through, we pulled into the Sucre bus station to see a big sign proclaiming Sucre as the capital. This is a very sore point for locals as the capital of Bolivia was changed fro Sucre to La Paz but the locals still defy this and pretend that Sucre is still number one. I don't know why they worry about it so much since their city is still a lot prettier than La Paz with beautiful tree lined streets, white washed buildings and parks.
Catching a local bus into town, we headed from a hostal and they let us check in even though it was still pre-10am. We went straight out for breakfast and found a nice little cafe on the main plaza where we were pleased to see that bacon was on the menu. Bacon & eggs along with a nice strong coffee gave
us the energy we needed to do something with the day after the sleepless bus journey the previous night.
There are no outstanding attractions to see in Sucre, its charm stems from its aesthetic appeal and more relaxed pace compared to La Paz and as such we spent most of our time wandering around the city, stopping occasionally for coffee. While we were there we did see an interesting museum with some old Inca artefacts along with some elongated skulls and some crispy mummies. We also managed to extend our visa, of course only on the second attempt as Lonely Planet cited that the immigration office was on a quite residential street where of course we managed to confuse some poor guy who was curious as to why we were standing outside, staring at his house with confused looks on our faces (thanks again LP!). Eventually fining the right address thanks to a local tourist map, it was a simple matter of getting a few passport photos and we were granted an extra 30 days onto our stay.
Having decided two nights was enough, we left early on our third day to get a buto Sucre. We arrived
at the us terminal at 10:40am where a woman in the car park was selling tickets for the 10:30 bus- typical Bolivian punctuality! When the bus eventually left, it climbed up to 4000m where we slowly began to freeze since the windows wouldn't close properly. Of course to make matters worse there was the inevitable flat tyre which gave us an extra half hour to sit on the bus and freeze whilst we watched the snow fall.
We arrived in Potosi slightly frozen an fed up with buses so headed for the city centre and checked in to San Carlos V hotel which at 140Bs, is usually out of our price range but it was comfy with wifi and a TV lounge so we just gave in to the prospect of a comfortable night. Potosi is the worlds highest city at 4100m and has become very prosperous by Bolivian standards thanks to the surrounding silver mines in the hills. The city centre was much nicer than we thought and we decided to stay for two nights and have a look around.
The next morning we tried to get a silver mine tour but were told that there wasn't
much point because it was Sunday and all the miners would be out playing football. We strolled around the city instead, looking at a few pretty buildings but again since it was Sunday everything was shut. Added to that the cold weather and the dust storm that began to blow in, we decided to just to give up retreat to the comfort of the hostal and watch TV, justifying it on the basis that since everyone else was having the day off then we deserved one as well.
The following morning we walked don to the street where the buses to Uyuni depart from, delighted to find that there were still tickets for the 10am bus so snapped up two. Ten minutes later, we chucked our bags on top of a tiny, dilapidated old bus for the trip to Uyuni on the most efficient bus ride we'd had in Bolivia. Not only did the bus leave on time (even 5 minutes early!), there was none of the usual driving all around town picking up packages for delivery. With only a brief stop for lunch, we sat back and enjoyed the spectacular scenery -colourful mountains and canyons- before arriving in
Uyuni 7 hours later for yet another big surprise...
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