|Catching the bus in Potosi to who-knows-where.|
|The white city of Sucre.|
|Monuments and beauty everywhere.|
The bus from Potosi to Sucre was uneventful, but the way to the terminal was quite interesting. The taxi I got to the bus was one of the oldest and run-down cars I've ever seen. Cairo has many old Peugeots for taxis, some of which shouldn't be on the road, and here is no different, apart from the fact that you can just buy a ‘taxi’ sticker and start your own business – no meters or licence, just cash for rides. The locks didn't work in this 70s Corolla, nor did the windows wind up or down, they were stuck in a perpetual half-open half-closed state (depending on how you see things), and it also didn't go very fast. This didn't stop the ‘taxi driver’ from picking up 3 other passengers along the way and really getting his money's worth. I feel that when I catch a taxi here in countries like this, I need to get the worst looking car there is – I think the driver needs all the business he can get, and I hope he is saving up for a new ride. I bought my bus ticket from a booth, and there are no computers like in Chile or Argentina, just a small book where you write your name (or nationality sometimes) and you have a bus ticket! No queues, and never a problem with no tickets here in Bolivia! The terminal is full of Bolivian women calling out, trying to sell bus tickets to various destinations, so while waiting for my bus to pull up, I was treated to a symphony of high-pitched female voices calling out destinations I've never heard of, over and over again. I finally get on my bus and head on my way, but not before paying the 1 Boliviano for the bathroom (no toilet on the bus) and the 2 Bolivianos for the ‘exit tax’ from the terminal.
Arriving in Sucre, I was impressed already – the hills surrounding the city and the greenness of them! So far, Bolivia had really enchanted me, but coming into Sucre and spending a few days here made me believe that I could move here and be happy. A few places have done that to me, Bariloche being one, and now this city in Bolivia had as well. I hiked up from the bus office, and although I was weighed down by 20kg on the back and about 15 on the front (yes I get around with all this shit… it’s great for the legs though!) I wasn't thinking about how heavy it all was but more looking around at the beautiful city and getting excited. I dumped my stuff at the hostel, a lovely one called The Beehive, and met up with an American friend who I hadn't seen since Puerto Natales back in December. It’s always a good thing to meet new people, but even better to catch up with the people that you got on so well with before. The first night in town and it was out to the local Irish bar for a quiet drink (or six) with the people from the hostel. Free shots of tequila from the owner went down well, and ended up having a few more than planned but I had a nice bed to crash in and a col town to explore at my leisure tomorrow. Welcome to Sucre!
|The cheeky smile from the local butcher - I asked and she posed happily!|
|The dog knows where it's at.|
|Butchers at the Sucre market.|
Markets have become my favourite place in Bolivian cities, and now in South America in general - Peru and Ecuador continue the tradition of great local markets. The first level is the fresh fruit and meat - walking into these places are just an assault on your senses, in a good way. The colours and the strange shapes of the tropical fruits, the ladies calling out their wares, waving their menus at you to entice you to their stall, which is the same as the next person's. I loved just wandering around taking photos of the locals buying and selling meat and cheese and flowers, and then there is the hundred varieties of potatoes! One woman had a cow nose on her bench - yes, just a nose. I saw cow's tongues, balls and everything in between. Although I didn't buy my meat here, I did get a chorizo burger for 13 Sol ($5), which wasn't the cheapest thing around but very, very tasty. I came back whenever I was hungry and the following day had lunch with my friend and we shared a 'mondongo' and 'saice ranga,' which are both some sort of meat dish that I can't quite remember apart from being really tasty and only 12 sol ($4.50) and 15 sol ($6) respectively. Feeling very satisifed after lunch, I explored the city a little futher than my stomache and walked up the viewpoint to get a look at the whole city.
|Preparing corn and babysitting at the same time.|
|One of the beautiful doorways in Sucre.|
|And another doorway.|
Sucre, which is also known historically as Charcas, is the constitutional capital of Bolivia with more than 250,000 people. The centre is all white - in fact the law states that if you live within a certain radius of the centre you have to paint your house white, which is a start contrast to the unpainted and unfinished buildings that are normally found in this country. The city was founded in 1538 by the Spanish and retains that Spanish feel, the churches, architecture and grid layout. The city was favoured by wealthy people who made a living from the silver mines in Potosi, the city enjoys temperate weather that is just perfect. The altitude here is still a little high at 2,800m and I still had to be careful walking up too many hills and stairs. It is full of tourists, but you don't get hassled on the streets, which I later found in Cusco, but there are shops selling the usual knitted wear, gloves, scarfs and hats that seem way too hot for this weather here. The streets are filled with old cars that are barely running, and going with my rule of the worst car, a grabbed a taxi and was immediately confused. It took me a while to realise that the steering wheel had been changed to the left side, giving me a clear view of the speedo (which didn't work) and the odometer (which was up to 740,000kms!), and also straight down to the road - I did my bit and gave the guy an extra bit of money and hoped he was saving for a new car. In contrast to this, the city boats a huge number of Volkswagen Beatles, most in wonderful condition. I even saw one that was a 'copisteria' (photocopy centre) and there was acutally a copy machine in the van. There were also a few ute-style VWs as well - a rare sight in most countries.
|Bolivia, I'm in love with you already!|
|The lively market of Sucre.|