After an 11 hour overnight bus trip in a fully reclining bus from La Paz t Sucre, we arrived at 7.00am on Saturday 30 April. We took taxi to our hotel which was an old, gracious colonial building which was being renovated. Our room was large with 13-14 feet ceilings. It was a bit ‘tired’ so we understood why they were renovating. We couldn’t get into our room at this early stage of the morning so we went for a walk around the historic CBD of the city. We stopped at a restaurant called Joy Ride for a wonderful breakfast. We then completed our walk back to our hotel where our rooms were ready.
Sucre (population about 300,000) is the constitutional capital of Bolivia and the capital of the department of Chuquisaca. Located in the south-central part of the country, Sucre lies at an elevation of 2750m. This relatively high altitude gives the city a cool temperate climate year-round. It was quite cold on the 2 days were we in the city.
On November 30, 1538, Sucre was founded under the name Ciudad de la Plata de la Nueva Toledo by Pedro Anzureso. In 1538, the Spanish King Philip 11
established the Audiencia de Charcas in La Plata with authority over an area which covers what is now Paraguay, southeastern Peru, Northern Chile and Argentina, and much of Bolivia. In 1601, the Recoleta Monastery was founded by the Franciscans and in 1609, an archbishopric was founded in the city.
Very much a Spanish city during the colonial era, the narrow streets of the city centre are organised in a grid, reflecting the Andalusian culture that is embodied in the architecture of the city's great houses and numerous convents and churches. Sucre remains the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Bolivia, and a common sight is members of religious orders dressed in traditional costume. For much of its colonial history, Sucre's temperate climate was preferred by the Spanish royalty and wealthy families involved in silver trade coming from Potosi. Testament to this is the Glorieta Castle. Sucre's University is one of the oldest universities in the new world.
Until the 19th century, La Plata was the judicial, religious and cultural centre of the region. In 1839, after the city became the capital of Bolivia, it was renamed in honour of the revolutionary leader Antonio Jose de Sucre. Too remote after
the economic decline of Potosi and its silver industry, it saw the Bolivian seat of government move to La Paz in 1898.
The city attracts thousands of tourists every year thanks to its well-conserved downtown with buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. It was a very attractive looking city with most building completed, unlike many of the other cities we have visited. The people in the city also looked more European rather than Chechuan and Inca, native South Americans.
Over the next 1 ½ days we walked around the city looking at many of these wonderful buildings as well as the local food market. On the Sunday the locals were celebrating Labour Day and a large procession was happening when we were in the Main Square. The locals were dancing in local costumes and the bands were playing. The next day (Monday) was a Public Holiday so all the shops and markets started opening a lot later – 10-10.30am. The Museums were not open until Tuesday.
What was opened and something that Sucre is also known for, is their chocolate factory and all their chocolate cafes which served hot hot chocolate, some mixed with coffee, other drinks
mixed with icecream. At the Para Ti Chocolate Cafe, Tom and I both had hot chocolate and we then shared fruit on a skewer covered in chocolate. You can imagine what Tom’s blood sugar level did after that!!! For lunch on Monday, we climbed up the top of one of the surrounding hills which took about 30 minutes, to a lookout at the top of the Hotel Kopling Restaurant and was met by a spectacular view of the city. The lunch we had was also amazing and the service was possibly the best we have had since being in South America.
On the afternoon of 1 May when we were settled into our hotel and had a shower, we went for a walk and found the supermarket (just like ours in Australia) and a Cinema. We shared a pizza and then generally saw more sites of Sucre. We tried to do some computer work – emails, blog, etc but the Wi-Fi service in Bolivia isn’t the best. Some of the times we sit in the foyer of the hotel to link to Wi-Fi, which isn’t very conducive Skyping.
That evening we all went out to dinner at the Florin restaurant
– a Dutch owned place which had celebrated Orange Day which is for their Queen’s birthday. The weather was pretty cold walking to and from the hotel.
Monday 2 May we slept in a bit. We had breakfast at the hotel which consisted of bread rolls, butter, jam, coffee or tea and sometimes juice. This is why we often go out for breakfast, particularly if we didn’t have our own supply of spreads and fruit.
We washed a few clothes (we are doing some hand washing and also putting washing into be washed which is charged by the kilogram in South America) and then went for a walk to explore this city more.
We found the central markets which were fully trading even though there was a public holiday (Labour Day).
Some of the buildings we saw in Sucre were:
1. Casa de la Libertad: House located on the main plaza, where the declaration of independence of Bolivia was signed on august 6th, 1825. Portraits of presidents, military decorations, and documents are displayed. This was closed so we missed out on this one.
2. Palacio de la Glorieta: Formerly an outstanding palace owned by the wealthy entrepreneur Don Francisco de
Argandoña, it now serves as a military school.
3. Museo de la Recoleta: Established by the Franciscan Order in the early 16th century, this placed served as a convent, barracks, prison, and museum. Displays anonymous paintings from the 16th to 20th centuries.
4. Universidad Mayor de San Francisco Xavier: Founded on March 27th, 1624 by Padre Juan de Frías Herrán.
5. Museo del Arte Moderno: Displays works of modern Bolivian painting and sculptures.
6. Churches: The Cathedral, San Francisco, La Merced, San Miguel, Santa Mónica, San Lázaro, Santo Domingo.
We didn’t go and see the Dinosaur Marks which are located 10 Km, north of the city of Sucre, this place depicts dinosaur footprints as wells as prehistoric plant and animal fossils. We thought Winton’s samples of these in western Queensland would surpass the Sucre samples.
That night we went back to “Joy Ride” restaurant as there was a documentary being shown on the silver mines in Potosi, Bolivia. It was based on 1 family, the husband had died when the 3 children were small so the oldest (then 10 y.o.) went and worked in the mines. Two years later his younger brother started
in the mines. The youngest (a daughter) helped Mum protect the tools the boys used in the mine. Their house was a cave next to the opening of ‘their’ mine.
They worked in terrible conditions and additionally, as all the work was manual, the results were poor. Later the oldest son (now 14) had to change mines to an even more dangerous mine so that he could earn more for the family as the 2 boys wanted to go to school.
The average age of death in these mines was 35-40 y.o.. Over 8 million people died in these mines. I found this terribly depressing so decided that I was not going on a Mine Tour when we got to Potosi which was the next stop.
At lunch time we caught a bus for 3 hours to Potosi.
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