Sweet as Sucre

Published: June 28th 2011
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Day 143 – 146

The group are persuaded to take a private transfer to Potosi, which proves much cleaner and more comfortable than the previous bus. We arrive in the hotel and I promptly break a bottle of wine in my bag – luckily nothing is damaged and I finally get my way to have my small bag washed! Despite being sick Sebastian takes us on a quick tour of the city to get our bearings, and after a quick argument with Si (I attempt to stomp back to the hotel, get lost and have to return with my tail between my legs to find him) we decide to take a tour of the money museum. (Si here I actually spend 1 hour running around trying to find Em after discovering she was not at the hotel, I'm not all bad). The tour is interesting and it is cool to see the original money machines and equipment from the 1700’s – unfortunately we don’t have any photos as in Bolivia they charge extra for taking photos (and Si refuses to pay)! The sunny afternoon has rapidly disappeared and we are both freezing by the end of the tour (some people on the tour ask Si why he is only in a t-shirt, the answer is that he has no clean clothes) and decide to go for coffee and a cake. Later on we head to a vegetarian restaurant for dinner and when Si and a few others want cake for pudding (yes another one), we hit the streets to search for something. We can only find street cake (massive whole iced cakes which are sold on the street) and despite my chants of, ‘street cake, street cake’ no one is buying one (apparently the thought of dust and diesel sprinkles and the unknown age of the cakes makes them unappetising).

The following morning we opt out of the optional silver mine tour (apparently tourists are randomly allowed to set off dynamite, which does not sound sensible to me) and go shopping instead. Despite being in the silver capital of Bolivia, we can find nothing nice... but do buy a cheap hammock! Sebastien has once again persuaded us to get a private transfer to Sucre (with another GAP group) and once again we are happy... until it runs out of petrol and is unable to fill up due to a local power cut. Luckily we manage to flag down a local bus and we are on our way again. Arriving in Sucre we are delighted with the next hotel, which is 4*. I am not feeling so great, but Si goes out with the group for a quick tour of the main square before being ushered into a local GAP-endorsed tour agency. He returns all excited and informs me that we can go rock-climbing tomorrow... I decide to pass but Si manages to rustle up a few volunteers from our group, so he is happy.

Up early we decide to check out the museum of liberation (where Simon Bolivar declared independence) – it is pretty but the only tour is in French so we learn nothing... Having not had cake for at least 24 hours Simon is suffering withdrawal, so we find a cake and coffee place. Afterwards we head out to do some quick shopping and find our dream hammock and poncho. Unfortunately these are very expensive and the woman in the shop is not prepared to bargain at all and offers us a “discount” of £2 (about 2%). Disappointed we head back to the hotel, where Sebastian sees our disappointed faces and after hearing our story offers to help us to bargain. Full of good cheer he enters the shop, greets the woman and tries flirting with her – all to no avail as she only offers a further £1 off! We accept defeat and soon it is time for Si to head off rock-climbing. I decide to go shopping again to see if I can find a bargain, and am directed to a ‘shopping district’ up a big hill. I take Charlie, Ross and Jonas with me and at the top of the hill, we find a single shop. Luckily there is a beautiful mirador and cafe and we get a drink and sit in the sun instead...

Si here – along with Andy, Lesley and Natalie we take the jeep out to the hills to do some rock climbing. After a 30 minute climb up a very steep hill (made harder by the fact I’m wearing flip flops) we arrive at the climbing destination and change into our climbing shoes. The instructor sets up the rope and will spot for each of us while we climb. As no one else has done it before I am volunteered to go first and the route the instructor points to turns out to be a lot easier than it looks. Everyone manages the first climb and I end up doing 5 climbs in total taking a harder route each time. It is a lot of fun and everyone is soon converted into aspiring climbers, even Natalie who works in an outdoor shop and thinks climbers are a bit sad. We then head back to town for a celebratory beer.

That night we go for dinner and bump into our mate Peta (who we met in Colombia)! We have dinner and then go and check out the salsa classes being held upstairs in the restaurant... We find nothing is happening as the teacher hasn’t turned up and so go back to Charlie and Ross’s room where Si and I are introduced to drinking games (neither of us can remember any from uni) including a hilarious one called ‘chicken goggles’ (which basically involves making glasses with your hands, making loud chicken noises and pointing at people). After being told off by the hotel security, and feeling like naughty schoolkids, we head out to a local bar/club where we have a good dance until the lights come on at 1.30am. Then we pile into taxis to go to another club which is full of locals... there seems to be a ratio of 10/1 men to women and we stay a couple of hours before walking home.

After a lie-in we meet up with our friend Peta for lunch, and after relaxing in a sunny patio we then walk to the park, and then go to the folklore museum. Si is desperate to get a poncho, so he drags me shopping (again). Happily we find some really nice shops were we get a good deal, and we feel relieved that we don’t have to buy anything from the miserable woman. For our last dinner as a group we head to a pizzeria (as everyone is low on funds) and then out for a few drinks. We can’t face another cheesy Bolivian night out and duck out at about 11pm...

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