Friday, 10 February 2012

Wasting away in Sucre

We didn’t plan to spend a week here. 

We arrived last Thursday with a reservation at our guesthouse for three nights. Eight days of excuses later and we have finally forced ourselves to get back on the road.

You’d think after a full week in a place, I’d have a lot to write about. But what can I write in my travel blog about a place in which we did everything we could to feel like we were home? In the eight days we were in Sucre, we only went to one museum and spent a total of two hours walking up to a viewpoint of the city. The rest of the week, we cooked at our guesthouse, sharing beers and travel advice with other guests; sat in the lawn chairs in the guesthouse courtyard, reading and soaking up the warm sun; and basically just let ourselves be giant wastes of space. It was exactly what we needed.

When we weren’t being motionless sub-humans, we were taking Spanish classes at a local language school. This was unplanned as well, but it gave us an excellent excuse to stay in our guesthouse, which was by far the most comfortable we’ve been since we started travelling. We stayed at a place called the Dolce Vita, run by a French/ Swiss German couple. The house was bright, colorful, open and social, with big rooms and a fully-equipped kitchen (except no microwave, which broke my heart when I came back from the store with microwavable popcorn…). Most of its eight rooms were occupied by people staying at least a week, some up to a month, so we quickly became friends with several of the other guests and had a great time talking with people whose names weren’t Elissa and Vincent. 

On the rare occasions that we actually ventured out into Sucre, we repeatedly fell in love with the town. It is beautiful: colonial-style buildings painted blindingly-white, with red tile rooftops that popped against the perennially blue sky. The town is hilly and has several places to hike up and enjoy the views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Sucre is quite prosperous by Bolivian standards and has one of the best food markets we've been to. Every day, we would head there for fresh squeezed fruit juice before buying colorful, ripe fruits and vegetables for our meals. But of course I was too busy stuffing my face to take pictures of the market. Sorry.

I discovered the most amazing of the viewpoints one afternoon when Vincent was in Spanish class (not that his absence contributed to the experience or anything...), when I went to a church that has, by far, the best view of Sucre imaginable. I knocked on a big wooden door to the adjacent school and was let in by a nun who gave me a key to the rooftop door. I walked up a couple flights of stairs, unlocked the door to the roof and upon stepping outside immediately froze, eyes wide and mouth gaping, at the sight in front of me. I don't have the words, so here are the pictures:
Since I was the only visitor on the roof, I had no one with which to share my wonder and instead would randomly break the silence with exclamations appropriate for a church such as, "Jesus!", "Ho-ly shit! and "God d-mn that's beautiful."

The highlight of our week, however, was our Spanish lessons. Before this trip, the only words of Spanish I knew were hola, adios, gracias, por favor, cerveza and pollo. It was so frustrating to feel like I couldn’t ask all of the questions I had while travelling- my natural curiosity was thwarted by my lack of language skills. After five days of Spanish lessons, I can now generally understand what is going on and make myself understood. Make no mistake, my skill level is probably similar to that of a three year old with a speech impediment; but at least I’m no longer mute. 

The Spanish lessons were made all the more interesting and informative by my hilarious Bolivian teacher: a veritable character who seemed more interested in shocking me than teaching me Spanish. Five minutes into my very first lesson, she proudly launched into a long story about the time she ate bull penis soup. I had just enough vocabulary to say something along the lines of, “Oh yeah, well I ate his balls in Santa Cruz!” Classy as always.

Our week in Sucre proved the valuable point that during our trip, we need to take the time to slow down and stay in one place for a while; otherwise we run the risk of burning ourselves out. By taking a week to relax, we not only recharged our travel batteries (just in time to visit the depressing, soul-sucking city of Potosi), but we also met some really cool people and learned more about Bolivia than we had in three weeks of travelling. Even though it doesn’t make for the most interesting blog posts, it will help us maintain some form of sanity for the next ten months. (Only have ten months left??!!)


  1. Merci Elissa pour ce partage! j'ecris en francais car j'ai l'impression que ce que j'ecris en anglais ne veut rien dire.

    Je suis comprends ce que tu veux dire et je me rends compte effectivement que jusqu'a present vous n'etiez que tous le deux a la soif de la decouverte des paysages et de la gastronomie. Vous entrez dans une nouvelle etaptes et j'ai l'impression que vous etes un peu rassassies et que vous pouvez enfin vous relaxer et PROFITER!!!!! Non pas que vous soyez blaser et que vous n'etes plus curieux mais vous etes moins comme des jeunes chiens fous qu'on sort de l'appartement. Mes amis, qui font le tour du monde en camping-car, m'ont dit que les rencontres etant breves chacun va a l'essentiel et du coup les echanges sont beaucoup plus sinceres. Avez vous ce ressenti vous aussi?

  2. Wow Elissa! I love reading your blog! Sounds like you guys are having a great time. I am jealous. Maybe I will get a chance to travel the world when my kids are grown. For now though, I will just look at all your amazing pictures!

    1. Thanks Dana! I really appreciate it. And you should definitely travel if you get a chance- so much to see in this world. We actually see a lot of families traveling, so bring the kiddos with you! :) Thanks again for reading!