04.04.2014 - 06.06.2014 20 °C
Friday 4th April - Sunday 6th April 2014
We hadn't envisaged being resuced at such speed from Uyuni so of course we had nowhere booked to stay. I had been in email contact with a hostel, La Dolce Vita, during the week and we had agreed that when we had a better idea of when we might get out and they had a better idea of when their stranded guests could get out, we would make a plan. So when we turned up on the doorstep unannounced at 11am on a Friday morning and met Jacquline, a very nice French man, we were relieved to be invited in and told there was one vacant room. It felt like a bit of a whirlwind. Less than two hours earlier we had been having breakfast in a city more than 200 miles away and there we were unpacking our bags in yet another new room. What a strange morning! For the first time during our travels after arriving somewhere new, I felt like a lie down rather than exploring! We decided to take the morning off.
A taste of what was to come at Sucre airport
In the afternnon we ventured out to find food and see what our surroundings were like. Sucre is a Unesco World Heritage Site and known as The White City because of the white-washed colonial style buildings. It's a pretty place. It attracts hordes of travellers every year who stay for weeks at a time to learn Spanish. The Bolivians speak in a very clear, slow manner that makes it easier to understand. Or so they say. People generally love it as a city and end up staying much longer than planned. It was stange walking the streets and passing as many foreigners going about their daily business as locals.
While researching what to do we read that dinosaur footprints had been discovered near the town in a cement quarry back in the early '90s. The tracks are on a veritcla wall and are the largest collection of dinosaur footprints in the world. Well, Zarius loves all things to do with dinosaurs so the next day we set off to check out these footprints and visit the dinosaur park, Parque Cretácico, that has opened on the grounds. We eventually found the number 4 collectivo going in the right direction (ahem) that dropped us off outside the gate, in the middle of a quarry. At first we were sure we had gone wrong (again), but when we looked up the hill in front of us, past the lorries and rubble, we could see glimpses of a manicured side walk and tarmac road.
The park is for kids, lets get that clear from the outset. We were the only adults there without a child in tow. But it didn't matter, we loved it! They have done an amazing job with the park, it's small, unbelievably well kept and bursting with life size sculptures of every dinosaur imaginable. Impressive to say the least. Especially for me, knowing far less about these prehistoric beasts than Zarius. The colossal, life size diplodocus was definitely my favourite. The wall with the tracks can be viewed from the park but you can't get up close to it. It was here that we tried our first Mocochinchi, a cold peach cider that seems to be sold everywhere in Bolivia. At the time of course we didn't know what it was. We could taste the cinnamon but had no idea what the weird looking shrivelled up stone at the bottom on the glass was. That would be the dehydrated peach...
Getting a closer look at the footprints
Our drive back was eye-opening. For the first few miles we drove through what is best described at the 'mechanic' quarter. Best described that way by me. It's garage, after garage, after garage for miles on end. What was quite sad is the age of the kids working there. Little boys, all decked out in child size overalls. Some on a break, kicking a ball about, all covered from head to toe in grease. The garages slowly gave way to specialised car part shops. One that only sold side mirrors for example, another that did bumpers, one for lights, another for doors. We had some of their customers hop on the bus carrying one spare part or another, dripping in oil, off to be repaired. After the mechanic quarter we hit the markets. We slowed to a crawl through streets lined with stalls selling everything from fruit and veg to clothes, blankets and even beds. We later read mixed reviews on whether it is safe to venture into the market on foot as a tourist or not. It was great to get a glimpse of it from the bus.
Chicken sandwich for 25p
The city has a spectacular viewpoint from the top of Recoleta hill. It's a bit of a hike up the steep hill, particularly with the altitude, but the views over the city from the gorgeous restaurant at the top make it worth the walk. We set up base on deck chairs overlooking a flower filled garden for the afternoon and enjoyed the views, the sangria and the Spanish tortilla!
I liked this guy's way of thinking
Gorgeous views. If only I could click my heels and go back...
On our last day we explored the town properly, re-visting a great fruit and veg market that we discovered on our first day and venturing into the adjoining meat market, where you can buy every part of an animal imaginable. Which Zarius found fascinating. I tried to avert my eyes from the cow noses and pig heads and concentrate on the colourful spread of fruits and vegetables instead. We happened upon a family festival in one of the parks, again being the only people there with no children in tow, but enjoying it all the same. And we had lunch in a place I had been admiring since we arrived. It was on the main square, on the second floor and each table was jutting out of the building on a little balcony. So pretty!
CLOSE YOUR EYES FOR THE NEXT PIC IF YOU'RE SQUEAMISH!
Family fun day
Who needs Paris?!
People crowded round a TV shop watching the soaps
The restaurant with the pretty balconies
La Paz was next on our itinerary but we decided that rather than stopping over we would simply change buses there and go straight to Copacabana on Lake Titicaca. We couldn't face another city and word on the street was, we would find sunshine and relaxation in Copacabana. Just what the doctor ordered. We would then backtrack to La Paz once we had taken a couple of days off. There were still issues with the strikes so only one bus company was running a service to La Paz giving us very little choice, but luckily it was a company we had read good reviews about. This journey was the one I was dreading most. Again because I had read too much about it. The drunk drivers and the accidents and things like how you should sit in the middle of the bus and not the front or back because you have more chance of surviving a crash. Yes this is the kind of thing people write about online and I am the kind of person who reads it. Much to Zarius' dismay. So we got our seats in the middle of the bus and it was the last time we would do that in Bolivia....