Walking in the Footprints of Giants

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South America » Bolivia » Chuquisaca Department » Sucre
October 7th 2011
Published: October 12th 2011
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Rob Writes

Taking a taxi to Sucre wasn’t as easy as we thought, purely because we cannot speak Spanish. We knew a couple who stayed at the same hostel as us in Potosi had managed to get a taxi to Sucre for $100Bs (£10) but when we arrived at the taxi rank and proposed this price the taxi drivers practically laughed in our faces, wanting a total of $160Bs. After about ten minutes of not understanding one another we gave up and headed to the bus terminal. Two minutes into our walk and along came a taxi, screeching up next to us asking if we were heading for Sucre and that he could do it for $100Bs, or at least we thought he said that. We hesitantly got in. The driver then headed back to the taxi rank and picked up another person destined for Sucre and we were on our way. Phew. The journey itself was one of the better ones we have had in Bolivia, at least the road was tarmac and the driver dropped us off outside our hostel,

The hostel we stayed in was called Wasi Masi and was costing us $120Bs (£11) a night, which was more expensive than usual. It was a nice hostel, the staff were friendly and the place was clean. The only gripe we had was with the showers, which were on the colder side of lukewarm.

After arriving in Sucre we headed straight out to get something to eat as we hadn’t eaten since that morning. We found a tourist restaurant and I had a traditional Bolivian dish which consisted of chips, gravy, red meat, chopped up hotdogs chillies and onions. I don’t remember its name but on the menu it promised to make me a macho man if I finished it all as it was so spicy. Needless to say I finished it all because it wasn’t spicy in the slightest (Billy, you would have wanted a refund and compensation for your time). On the other hand – to Tina’s delight – this restaurant sold English tea! So she had her usual tea with 200000 sugars and a Pad Thai, which turned out to be more of a chicken satay.

Our first full day in Sucre was spent hanging around the hostel using on the WIFI. We also had our meals there for the cheap price of $14Bs for lunch and $15Bs for dinner.

For our second day in Sucre we went to the Parque Cretacico which we were both looking forward to, although getting there was a bit of an adventure in itself. We left the hostel early with me on map duty and headed towards the bus station on foot where we were certain we would be able to get a bus to the park. While my navigation to the bus station was spot on, we couldn’t seem to see a bus going to the park, so we consulted our Lonely Planet which informed us that there was a dedicated bus service from the main plaza, which was on the other side of town where we had just come from. We assumed the dedicated bus would be free seeing as it was taking people directly to the park, which is what swayed our decision to head back to catch that instead.

After finally finding the bus just in time for it leaving it turned out it wasn’t free but $17Bs (£1.60) each. A bit annoyed we headed to the park on the death trap dinosaur bus, which was more of an open back lorry with some planks of wood in the back to sit on and no suspension. I actually felt like I was on a carnival float and the big dinosaur head on the front of the lorry didn’t help.

After about 15 minutes of public humiliation we arrived at the park. The park cost us $30Bs (£3) each to get in, oh and not to forget... the camera had to pay $5Bs (50p) to get in but seeing as we are the parental guardians of the camera we had to pay it. It may be cheap here but nothings free. Had we brought the cameras little brother, the binoculars, it would of cost another $2Bs (20p). I know the amounts are small but it still seems a bit crazy to us. That aside the park was great, just like Jurassic Park! Although it wasn’t that big (it took an hour to go around it in detail) we enjoyed it. The main attraction was the dinosaur footprints on the rock face opposite the park. The footprints ran up the rock face vertically, which was weird because I never saw the T-Rex walking up walls in The Lost World. Maybe the dinosaurs had gravity boots in South America. As it turned out something much less spectacular happened. Due to the Earth’s tectonic plate movement over millions of years, what was once a flat plain is now a vertical mountain, footprints still in-tact. There we hundreds of them, big and small. Although the best ones had collapsed a couple of years ago. Shame.

It turned out the footprints were discovered by quarrymen (not the Beatles). There is a cement quarry neighbouring the park which was digging into the surrounding mountain range. As they got deeper into the mountain they realised the cement was of a poor quality, stopped digging and left the scene. Weather erosion then revealed the dinosaur’s footprints and the rest is history!

We had paid for a return trip on the bus of dinosaur shame, so at 2:30pm left the park and headed back into town in more style then we ever could imagine.

The next day we decided instead of getting a bus to Santa Cruz which would take 14 hours and cost $150Bs each, we would get a flight for the following day, which cost us $400Bs each (£40) but would only take 30 minutes.

That evening I decided it would be a good idea for Tina to give my hair a trim with my beard trimmer. I thought it was a good quality trimmer and I expected it to be up to the job of giving me a short back and sides. Well it wasn’t, and by the time the batteries had run out I looked a lot like Floyd from Dumb and Dumber. So, I donned my woolly hat and headed in search of a cure. Bearing in mind it was 9pm I didn’t expect to find a hairdressers open but I found one, right around the corner. Bingo! Full of relief I didn’t spare a second to think of what I was going to say when I got in and it wasn’t until I sat down I realised I didn’t know how to ask for a short back and sides in Spanish. Fortunately the sound of a set of clippers is universal so I came out with, “BUZZZZZ numero uno,” pointing to the back and sides of my head. The 13 year old girl attending to me seemed to understand my request and got to work quickly... Next thing I know I’m staring at what appears to be a monk in the mirror. My heart sank and I made another futile request, “BUZZZZ numero uno total.” And that was the end of my beautiful hair.

The next day we were up early and heading for the airport by taxi (£2.50). We had timed it completely wrong and got to the airport two hours before check in, rather than one, which gave us time to have a look around. We discovered that in Bolivian airports you can buy a slab of chocolate in the shape of a full size handgun as well as chocolate ammo. It was very tempting to take one through the baggage control but I don’t think it would have stood up to the platoon of guys armed with pump-action shotguns patrolling the place. While in the airport we also saw a few oddly dressed gentlemen. They were all wearing the same; blue denim dungarees, white-striped shirt, baseball cap and black shoes. Tina thought it was a stag doo and even suggested that it must be some kind of joke but it turns out it wasn’t either and they were in fact Mennonites

The flight to Santa Cruz was very quick at 30 minutes and we even got a cheese roll and a drink. We landed and it was 35 degrees Celsius, which was quite frankly just ridiculous. From the airport we got a minibus into the town centre (£1.20) and then a shared taxi to Samaipata (£6.00), which is where we are now.

Additional photos below
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12th October 2011

How awesome would it be if The Quarrymen had discovered those footprints? What is INSERT?
12th October 2011

loved this lets see the numero uno haircut keep up the hunt for the extra hot dish then send it to me by carrier (fried rice) B,L,N xx
12th October 2011

Thanks Billy, The pic of Rob\'s hair was on facebook but there will be pics of him in this or the next blog.
12th October 2011

INSERT fixed
That was meant to be a link, fixed now.

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