Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sweet times in Sucre

Sucre... la cuidad blanca (the white city). Truly a lovely city (another one I could see myself living in... a least for a year.) And we were actually able to appreciate it as, get this, we spent almost 3 days there! Not counting the 2 nights I didn´t sleep in Atacama, that was the first time I had spent 2 consective nights in one place in a month. Much needed.
Also much needed was a shower, we´ve been treating ourselves to places with hot water which actually seems more common here than Ecuador. Night buses, public baños (hold your breath!) and desert dust take their toll. Then off to a delicious breakfast at Joy Ride (gringo restarant/bar/tour agency). The whole day was a wonderfully lazy day doing things like laundry. (I love fresh laundry!!) Walked around the city a bit... for a big capital city in SA it´s amazingly calm and well-kept. Apparently there´s a law that they have to re-paint the buildings (white of course) every year. The only downside was that there seemed to be more beggars and child show-shiners than other cities, or perhaps they just stuck out more in contrast? We (Paul and Jay are still with us) walked uphill to a viewpoint (rolling hills, perfect clouds and greenery) then decided we deserved to relax most of the afternoon in the very nice cafe at the top, drinking fresh batidos, chatting and playing cards. Later it was booking tours, stopping by the market and then Jay and I made use of our free movie tickets for the tour agency to see Todo Sobre mi Madre (all about my mother) which was weird but much better than I expected and just nice to do something like watch a movie... hadn´t done that in forever!
Dec 2 was a spectacular day. Another highlight (they just keep coming!) We booked a tour with Joy Ride (the 4 of us and another German man) which involved a great blend of mountain biking, hiking and swimming. (Like Cyswog´n fun, certainly the fun part anyway!) We were driven out of town, set on our bikes at the top of a crazy dirt road and just told to go for it! Yikes, after that I decided I will not be doing the Death Road here in La Paz, I like biking, on pavement that is!! But I survived, just a bit bruised from all the bumping and felt like I challenged myself. Also felt like my lungs were as dusty as the road... then it was on to part two: Hiking into a secret canyon. Nice easy hike except for the bit where you look down and realise one loose pebble and you´re sailing down in the rocky river below. But there was no reason to look down since the scenery was once again beyond belief: River running over pink and blue-grey rocks up to the green mountainside, the high peaks and finally the blue blue sky with the odd fluffy cloud. Passed some indigenous fishers (Bolivia has more indigenous people than any other SA country and many still speak their native language, mostly Quechua or Aymara here) They were fishing for these tiny fish that later we felt nibbling when we were swimming. It´s rainy season so the water was a bit higher and the only way into the canyon was to swim upstream. Fantastic! It was perfect (and yes mom, perfectly safe), great temperature. A few minutes hard swimming and you´re in this isolated, peaceful canyon in the Bolivian mounatains. Sculpted smooth pink rocks along the side, excellent for laying on and soaking up the sun. I even had a mud bath =) It was great. Then, getting to float down on our backs completly effortlessly. Relaxation at it´s best, what a unique experience. The another short hot dusty hike back the truck, back to Sucre, back to a free drink at the restaurant. And to end the perfect day, we cooked yummy dinner in the hostel, watched the crazy lighting storm that came out of nowhere, dumped rain for an hour and then ended just in time for us to dash to the internet before the power went out.
Dec 3 was another relaxing day, we had only just got up when Corinna (my friend Anna from Germany´s friend) showed up off the night bus. So great to finally meet her, she has taken off to Uyuni and is meeting us tomorrow again to continue possibly all the way to Ecuador with us (the more the merrier!) But then we had to say chao to Paul and Jay, what wonderful travel companions, I miss the British humour and the aerobee already =) Ran around all day: Food, bus tickets, internet, market, indigenous art museum (beautiful weaving!) and packed those backpacks again. Tough to leave somewhere we had settled into a bit. On the night bus to Samaipata... an experience hopefully not to be repeated, I´ve been on some pretty bad buses but this one was just a bit smellier (always try to get a bus with baño, then it only reeks urine when the bathroom door is open at least!) a chorus of babies and annoying teenagers, smokers, awful road (we got stuck twice) (I mean, this the main road from the capital to the 2nd biggest city. and yes it is the poorest in SA but I feel a bit more infrastructure would be a worthwhile investment). Then the bus didn´t even remember to stop for us, I had just woken up and blearily glanced out the window when a building with ´Samaipata´ flew past. So our stay there started with a nice long hike back down the highway at 5:30am, but no worries, it steadily improved from there!!

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