Sucre, Sucre, Suuuuuuucre!

Ah, Bolivia. Although we’ve only been here a few days, I can already tell that Bolivia is light years different than both Argentina and Chile. The pace is slower. The people seem to be gentler. The pizza dough is homemade. grin.

At the moment, we’re on the second bus of the day—this one, a wee bit fancier than the last. But let’s not get too crazy. Neither bus had bathrooms, which translates into a pretty shifty ride after the third hour, no matter how cool the scenery is outside the window. And the roads? Well, the roads leave a little (a lot) to be desired, although they do add a twisted charm to the experience. If I was a betting girl, I’d say within the last 15 hours of time spent on the road over the last few days, maybe a third was spent traversing various diversions from the actual highway. A bridge is out. A newer tunnel is being built. Or, there’s just tons of rocks and debris on the road from a massive slide of some sort. Makes for some interesting traveling, I must say.

We’re on our way to Sucre to meet some friends, take some Spanish classes, and maybe settle down for a bit. Did I mention we’re a bit tired of bussing? The last two days were spent in Tupiza, a dusty, touristy town about three-ish hours from the border. Sheepishly, we were holed up in a Club Med-ish hotel waiting for our departure. I say Club Med because of the pool and the bikini-clad loungers. But the price? Less than $22 a night at 7 bolivianos to the dollar. Can’t beat that! Basically, we needed a little respite after so much traveling and, hey, I won’t say I didn’t enjoy the buffet breakfast. Plus, we did manage to meet a Brit named Ben Brown who shared our company for the evening to watch a bit of socc . . . er . . . football. If you want to meet someone who has traveled the world and has lots of interesting stuff to talk about, Ben Brown’s your man.

So, needless to say, we haven’t had much time to form a true impression of Bolivia yet. But a few things I’ve enjoyed thus far:

  1. The clothing the women wear, especially the traditional dress. Exquisite sweaters, brightly colored and intricately designed. Same goes for the skirts. Knitted stockings with sandals, some also wearing alpaca wool legwarmers. Bowler hats. Patterned aprons. No, I won’t be one of those tourists decked out in all the Artisanal Market Gear, but I may pick up a sweater if the mood strikes.
  2. The cacophony of sounds coming from any bus station, made up of ticket sellers calling out the names of travel destinations (Potosi, Potosi, Poh-toh-seeeeee!) and snack vendors of all ages selling snacks (jellatina, jellatina, jell-a-teeeee-na!) amidst the general din of transportation hubs. It’s really wild, how it sounds when everyone’s going at once. We would’ve recorded the chorus in the Potosi bus terminal but we only had about 5 minutes to transfer from one bus to the next, on our way to Sucre . . . and you know what those 5 minutes were spent doing!
  3. Bolivian breakfasts. In both Argentina and Chile, folks eat mainly jam and some form of bread for breakfast. While the jam is certainly tasty and the bread is sometimes fresh, it gets a little heavy after a while. In Bolivia, I was delighted to find plenty of delectable options available in the early hours of the morning: porridge made from quinoa, puffed wheat, yogurt, and my personal favorite (what I had the first day): crepes with bananas and chocolate. Triple yum.
  4. The exchange rate. Argentina & Chile were a bit expensive for our budget. Of course, completely worth every penny. But, it’s nice to be able to relax a little about our spending now that things are a little cheaper. I must say, sticking to a budget is definitely an interesting process. Making meals instead of going out. Not buying anything you’ll have to carry on your back. Trading books for new ones. Reusing things over & over again. But in truth, it’s not that much different from how we live normally (well, save the trading books part) and it makes the experience that much more interesting.

Disclaimer: No, we haven’t been stranded in some far-off bus station in the middle of the Puna. We’ve been in Sucre for the past few days, havin’ a grand ol’ time with Jorge and Iratxe. There are a few things to take care of on the agenda, but in the downtime until the next post, here’s one I wrote a few days ago on the way to Sucre. Stay tuned!


About andesnotthemint

Alexis, Mark, 2 seasons, 1 continent, a very long mountain range.
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