We take a joint taxi to Sucre from Potosi and even arriving in the dark we could tell that Sucre is a pretty nice city; Jonyo notices the stark difference, commenting on how this doesn’t feel like Bolivia anymore, Toto.
After a failed attempt to stay at one guesthouse, which seemed to be occupied only by a barking dog (some things in Sucre aren’t that different to the rest of Bolivia) we hail another cab that takes us to our comfortable, arty, second-choice hostel.
After only spending time in Uyuni and Potosi, and having Jonyo describe La Paz with similar descriptions to the those cities, Sucre really is a sigh of relief for me and I immediately feel warmth towards it as we wander the gently-lit main square.
Then we get some wings and mojitos, putas (Spanish for “Bitches”)! Because they’re on offer and Sucre was acting too genteel, so we need to mess it up with spicy, sticky wings. We need to keep it down a peg or two. Whilst eating one of our weirder Bolivian moments happened. Two young boys suddenly spring out of nowhere and instantly launch into a loud, passionate, intense, close-up ballad, possibly about Ecuador, we couldn’t make it out. Eye contact is maintained throughout, they don’t hold back. As quickly as it started it finishes and the passion vanishes, four arms stretch out, “Money pwease”. The grift is a familiar one but the swift, in and out of the delivery is hard to process. Coins are given for their commitment and we sit in a dazed silence for hours, unable to piece our lives back together…
We spend our first full day in Sucre enjoying wandering around the colonial streets lined with white-washed buildings (even the post office here would be a tourist landmark in any other town).
The city sure seems to live up to the sweetness of its name (wheeey)! And then we are abruptly reminded of its history and feel pretty awkward when we come across a statue that has been graffitied with the words ‘Colonia = Muerte/Colonialism = Death’… We were only appreciating the architecture, don’t need nuttin’ more ’bout dem conquistadors!
Aside from the reminder of this dark history that shrouds the city, Sucre is absolutely beautiful and appealingly laid-back. We walk through the small, quaint Parque Simón Bolívar towards Sucre’s Cemetery.
It’s Mother’s Day in Bolivia, where all women are celebrated and thanked regardless of whether they have children (because apparently they will be mothers one day as that is a women’s sole purpose in life…). There are dozens of locals, therefore, giving thanks to all the women interred on site and tending to the countless graves and shrines. Some of the graves are large and elaborate family tombs, while most are small shrines behind glass and stacked in the walls built around and within the cemetery. They are all impeccably well-maintained and each contain photos, flowers and small trinkets that have special significance to the deceased.
After about a week and a half of non-stop activities and busy days, we take the opportunity to have some down-time for a couple of hours sat in the sunny garden of our hostel. Each day of my time in Bolivia, I had realised, had brought with it some form of mild to significant discomfort. Whether that was due to a long, crowded, shitty bus journey, the freezing cold of the salt flats tour, the altitude sickness or having to run, doubled-over through a mine. Fortunately all these negative points are miniscule and completely outweighed by the incredible positives, but the point I’m trying to make is that these discomforts for me are non-existent in Sucre. Of course we are taking it easy here, but it has arguably become my favourite city so far in South America for being so very pretty everywhere and having much more chilled pace than the other cities I have visited on this trip.
When we eventually motivate ourselves to move, we climb the steep hills up to the Mirador to enjoy the picturesque views of the sun setting over Sucre. The atmosphere is tranquil and relaxing. I anxiously anticipate the folk band that arrives to promptly ruin that vibe by playing loud, obnoxious music (clearly I am not not the only one expecting this, as several couples swiftly leave their spots on the terrace). However, luckily for us, the songs they play are pleasant, calm and the right kind of background music to add to this feeling of contentedness.
We decide to class it up a little that evening and treat ourselves to a legitimately lovely meal at a proper restaurant for a change. It is mother’s day afterall, and as a woman I am, in Bolivia’s eyes, a future mother. Eep. Jonyo finds a delightful Italian that is hidden down an unlit street where you have to ring the doorbell to enter. We worry we have found the wrong door and are accidentally disturbing a family home, but fortunately the restaurant owner warmly invites us in and sits us within the cosy, homely interior. We share two delicious pasta dishes and a bottle of vino. Then onto a lively bar in town for some cocktails to finish off the night!
The plan for our second day in Sucre lines up one of my most anticipated location visits. We are going to see some of the world’s best preserved dinosaur footprints! Naturally, we opt for the most exciting mode of transport: the Dino Bus! This is a comfortable and smooth way to get to the footprints that gives a little unofficial tour of the town, until we get to about 5 metres from the entrance… There is some form of awards ceremony for a cycling event that has a stage set up directly infront of the main gateway to the site. We sit watching for about 15 mintues, during which time it seems that every cyclist is presented with a large plastic trophy, prompting us to wonder why there is even an awards ceremony if literally everyone wins… Either that, or there is one poor sod who doesn’t get a trophy and the idea is to make them feel as terrible as possible…
Finally, the bus driver decides enough is enough, starts beeping the horn and near-enough running people down should they not get out of the way fast enough. After driving for about twenty seconds up a hill, we realise that we actually could have just stepped out and walked a few yards to the ticket office, but that wasn’t clear at the time… Ahh Bolivia.
Parque Cretácico is something pretty special. And we turn into nerds whilst there – both in giddy excitement and also in appearance thanks to the park’s safety precautions. As a twist on the usual blasé nature Bolivians have towards health and safety, here the tour guides make you wear hard hats and goggles before entering the site. We didn’t even have goggles for the mine tour… Our confusion is only heightened when we enter the site and find no evidence of risk or danger… Off with the goggles then.
Our guide isn’t fantastic. He quickly runs through the information on the footprints in an uninterested manner, and then speedily walks further down the site, not allowing anyone to take their time enjoying the incredible nature infront of us. However, the site itself makes up for it as we see hundreds of preserved dinosaur footprints, including those of giant sauropods, climbing far up the side of the vast wall. Obviously we stop and pose as dinosaurs, and I get super excited about theropod prints such as those from a Carnotaurus (they have even sillier arms than a T-Rex, heehee).
And now… Some silly dinosaur faces:
Sadly, our time in Sucre is coming to an end due to the ridiculous fact that all buses to Samaipata leave between 5 and 6pm. So we have a last wander around town, get a bite to eat, while I wallow in the fact that I can’t stay in this beautiful city for at least a week longer. However, Jonyo promises me that we’re headed to a location that will be just as nice and we’ll get to enjoy some more of Bolivia’s incredible nature and wildlife.
So, on to Samaipata! And I’m certain I’ll one day revisit my beloved Sucre.