The Easy Living Beauty of Sucre

Published: August 18th 2011
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Luckily for my readers, this entry will be brief; I have little to write about this lovely city, the first I have encountered in Bolivia that has genuine charm and appeal. I did not do much during my time, except enjoy the warmth, the oxygen and living a slow relaxed life for a few days.

Lying at a breathable altitude of 2750m is the beautiful white city of Sucre, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and constitutional capital of Bolivia.

The Unesco protected city centre of Sucre contains a large number of buildings which have been painted white, giving rise to it's obvious nickname - La Ciudad Blanca. The history of the city became significant alongside the discovery of silver in the mines of Potosi. The people the mine made wealthy generally want to live at the altitude and cold of Potosi and so settled in Sucre instead. Thanks to this more gradual population, unlike the quickly built narrow barely planned streets of Potosi, Sucre has an easy block lay out , a much finer structure and more parks too.

The beautiful central plaza, Plaza 25 de Mayo is built around a fine lion-flanked staute of Mariscal Jone Antonio Sucre, the first President of Bolivia. On the outskirts of this flowered plaza is a number of beautiful pure white buildings including the Cathedral, the office of Prefecture, the town hall and the historic Case de la Libertad where the republic of Bolivia was founded and Simon Boliviar wrote the nations Constitution. The plaza is a great place to simply sit on a bench and watch the world go by.

Each morning in Sucre we arose and made the walk down to the ornate market building to enjoy an on-the-spot made fruit smoothie. These cost barely anything at all and there was a huge variety of fruits to experiment with. I found and enjoyed my first curry since leaving the UK here, for a pound it was pretty damn good. The market was a fantastic place to walk around with plenty of strange things to see including huge cake stalls, the smoothie girls, a huge row of potato selling women, the Bolivian standard llama foetuses and every part of a cow imaginable, from nose to tail.

We visited a history museum detailing the development of humans in the area. This included a section containing tribal skulls, ones that had been mutated into pseudo-cones by bands tightened around the top of the head. As Sucre is the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Bolivia it not surprisingly contained a vast collection of Christian paintings and statues.

Another lazy walk too us to Parque Bolivar which resides next to the Supreme Court of Bolivia. Here protesters have remained for years in hope of justice after a protest against a planned visit from Evo Morales ahead of discussions of whether to return more power to Sucre turned sour. The President is not a man popular man here. Plans to redistribute wealth in Bolivia were not well received by these wealthy people to say the least. Like the central plaza, Parque Bolivar was another great place to relax. Plenty of of people were scattered throughout, ready to sell snacks like popcorn and toffee apples. In the centre of the park stood an amusing, if pitiful, imitation of the Eiffel Tower which we climbed to much wobbling.

We had a couple of nights out here, one ending inside a fantastically sweaty nightclub, almost as dingy as the mines of Potosi and another that finished with Ciaran and myself singing Eye of the Tiger in a quiet karaoke bar, populated almost exclusively by the elderly. We were gifted an applause once the song and our singing was over, but I imagine it was purely a physical thanking that they would have to listen to us no more.

Our hostel was well kitted and as such we cooked for ourselves using fresh produce from the market everyday, enjoying the luxury of non-fried food for a change.

Before leaving for Cochabamba and Villa Tunari, we enjoyed a slightly more energetic day the the rest here - we walked steeply up to a mirador to enjoy the city wide views and followed it by wandering to the main cemetery with a slightly inappropriate dinosaur telephone booth outside.

The cemetery was interesting, purely in the varying scales of tombs. A tiny patch of grass could be covered in hundreds of crosses, whilst next to them could be a single giant crypt belonging to a former President.

At the end of our time in Sucre we said goodbye to Liz, who was staying to take Spanish lessons and we said goodbye to a wonderfully lazy and relaxed time in a genuinely beautiful city.

Sucre is a place where many travellers stay for longer periods for volunteering and learning. It is completely understandable why, I wish I had.

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