Hope you´re well.
After our jungle adventures, we spent a pleasant few days recovering in sunny Santa Cruz - although it turned out the jungle fun and games weren´t all over quite yet. A couple of days after we got back from the jungle, Roland discovered a tick feasting on his belly - ah, the glamour of travel...
We enjoyed being back at school with our Spanish lessons and they´ve definitely helped un poquito (muy, muy poquito). We´ve managed to pick up a decent amount of vocab but the stringing together of sentences is proving a little more challenging. We´re just about managing to get by, with a lot of guess-work, a fair bit of French thrown in for good measure and more than a little sign language.
We had some really delicious meals in Santa Cruz, but our attempt to find authentic Bolivian food was a bit of a non-starter. We went to a place recommended to us by a bona fide Bolivian (the excellently-named Olvis, from our jungle trip). But by the time the girl had come to our table for the third time to ask if we wanted our photo taken with novelty ´traditional´ hats, we weren´t so sure this was the place for us.
We flew out of Santa Cruz to Sucre on the morning of Friday 30th July. The early start was definitely worth it to catch a 30 minute plane versus the 18-hour bus...the memories of ´Garfield The Movie´ at full blast in Spanish are still fresh from the last bus journey.
Sucre is Bolivia´s constitutional capital (though government comes out of La Paz). It´s a beautiful colonial city, lots of old white-washed buildings and perfect deep blue skies most days. Still chilly at night though as we´re up at altitude again.
We´ve enjoyed our time here and have done quite a mix of things. We had a fun first night out at a local bar which was celebrating the final night of a digital culture festival with surprisingly good DJs playing. The next day we blew away the cobwebs by attending a football match between Sucre and La Paz. It was no Emirates stadium but for 1 pound fifty, we had no complaints. Was a good atmosphere even though there weren´t that many people there (though there was a dog running excitedly around) and Sucre comfortably beat La Paz 3 - 1, with just the one full-on fight on the pitch involving most of the players.
On Sunday we went on a trip a couple of hours away to a traditional market in a village called Tarabuco, which is known for its weavings. Remarkably, we didn´t buy a single thing - I´m getting good at resisting knick-knacks these days! We rounded off our day of culture with an evening at a traditional dancing show which was pretty entertaining.
On Monday we went up to one of the viewpoints of the city and had a lovely al fresco lunch, before checking out some local dinosaur tracks. In the evening we watched a very moving film about the miners in Potosi (including children) who work in horrendous conditions. We were planning to visit Potosi next but our plans have been somewhat scuppered by a massive roadblock which has been going on over a week already and shows no sign of abating.
We bumped into the Argentinian couple we made friends with on our jungle trip so had a nice meal out with them Monday night too. Sebastian owns a hostel in Buenos Aires so we may well stay there at mate´s rates.
Tuesday, we thought we´d continue our efforts to culturally enrich ourselves (hmm) at the recommended museum of textiles, which showcases indigenous weavings (like we´d seen at the market) both ancient and modern. It´s amazingly intricate work and certainly impressive, but our attentive reading of the translations of the explanatory placards did start to wane a little by room 12...
Wednesday and Thursday we took it easy as Roland had a dose of South American belly - though we did manage a gentle stroll around the park yesterday to pay a visit to a miniature version of the Eiffel Tower, bizarrely apparently built by the same people as the original. It´s not about to cause too many sleepless nights at the Paris Tourist Board.
Today (Friday) is Bolivian Independence Day so we watched all the colourful parades and the various brass marching bands (of differing abilities...)
We´ve been in Sucre a little longer than planned because of the Potosi road block which has affected most routes out of the city, but there are certainly worse places to be stuck. We´ve now decided on a complete change of tack, and are heading off tomorrow towards the Argentinian border, and then we´re planning to come back to do the Bolivian Salt Flats from the Chilean side in a few weeks´ time.
So, it´s hasta luego Bolivia for now - we´ve really enjoyed it, but we´re looking forward to getting on the move again and starting travelling round Argentina.
Hope all well with you.
love Helene and Roland xxx