My bus from La Paz to Sucre cost me 80 bolivianos (£9) for a single seat downstairs, by the window. The cost was the same for downstairs as with upstairs and I was hoping with less passengers downstairs it would be quieter, but it seems I had Bolivian Lads on Tour on my bus and they insisted on chatting and laughing loudly for the first few hours, but they eventually stopped (although at 1am, awoken from my sleep, I had to ask one of them to turn off his music that he was blasting out his phone). Apart from that, with the aid of a sleeping pill, I slept pretty well and we arrived in Sucre at around 8:40am. The terminal was further away than I had thought it would be but, it being early morning and me being stubborn, I still chose to walk with my bags to my hostel, Spanish Friends, in the town centre, where I had booked two nights for a total of 84 bolivianos (£10).
I checked in and dumped my bags before eventually going out to explore the city, starting by heading up to the Mirador – the viewpoint of the city – at the end of Calle Dalence. Unlike other Miradors this didn’t require too much exertion and I made it to the top after a short 10 minute walk, and decided to head straight to the cafe that overlooked the city for a banana coffee shake for 20 bolivianos (£2.40).
Afterwards I made my way back down and along Calle San Alberto to Mercado Central, which has the classic fruit, veg and meat stalls as well as crafts, jewellery and electronics. I spent a good couple of hours wandering around Plaza 25 de Mayo, Parque Bolivar and the market-lined streets, people watching and perusing the numerous stalls. Apart from the hustle and bustle of the local markets it is quite a tranquil and relaxed city, with locals relaxing in the plazas and parques and the side streets fairly quiet save the cars parked up on the kerb.
At around 2:30pm I headed into Casa de la Libertad where I paid 15 bolivianos (£1.80) for entrance and an English speaking tour guide. It was really insightful to learn more about Bolivian history and Bolivian politics, and moving to hear about the figures of respect and awe in Bolivia. I feel a warmth towards Bolivia that I can’t quite identify or justify, but I have felt something inspiring about the people and the place. Afterwards I took the short walk to San Felipe de Neri, which is actually a school but in the afternoon, once class has finished, you can pay 15 bolivianos (£1.80) to enter and take the stairs to the rooftop.
This offered possibly some of the best city views I have experienced; in the centre of town, on a flat roof, you have 360 degree views of the city and the surrounding mountains, much closer than the Mirador I went to in the morning, plus the white bell tower and church-like architecture of the building itself adds an air of grandeur and beauty to the landscape.
At around 4pm I walked over to Plaza Juan Frias, which has more market stalls and shops but also houses a tattoo parlour, Prodigy Tattoo. I had been thinking about getting a tattoo on my travels since Asia, deciding against it in Thailand only because of the number of beaches there and not being able to swim once I had it done, and I kind of decided on a design while I was in Australia but the time suddenly disappeared and it would have been fairly expensive. Now I am at the end of my travels it felt appropriate to get it done, even more so in a country I have really warmed to and a continent very different from my own.
The fact that I also had to communicate what I wanted in an entirely different language (using my basic Spanish, a bit of google translate and some elaborate gesture) added to the experience of getting my 3rd tattoo while travelling. 2 hours later, after discussing what I wanted, making some designs actually doing the work, I had a brand new tattoo on my left wrist for 150 bolivianos (£18). I was buzzing a bit afterwards, proud of myself for getting it done despite the barriers and on a high from the pain/pleasure.
I decided to head out to Kultur Berlin that evening, a hostel in Sucre that is known as a bit of a party hostel and where travellers often go for a night out. It wasn’t quite as busy or full of energy the night I went but I needed a drink and their happy hour included 2 glasses of wine for 27 bolivianos (£3). WINE. I hadn’t had white wine in so long or been able to pay the same for wine as for other drinks, so naturally I snapped up the offer; 3 times over the course of the evening, in fact. I spied a table of guys playing Bullshit while on my second of six glasses and invited myself to join, before we went to Goblin for a pint of local ale at around midnight. I headed back to my hostel at around 1am, feeling merry and tipsy.
The next morning I felt ropey, clearly having somehow lowered my tolerance to wine since travelling and struggling with the lethal combination of a heat, altitude and a hangover. I had breakfast at my hostel and then went out to enjoy the markets and the sun, but I ended up spending most of my time with a dodgy stomach trying to either find a toilet or not let my bowels get the best of me. This is the second time in Bolivia I have experienced diarrhoea the day after drinking alcohol (in fact, wine both times, too) so I’m not really sure alcohol mixes well with altitude and slight lack of hygiene. I’ve heard that most stomach bugs aren’t actually to do with the food but the spreading of germs through touching doors and so on, but clearly alcohol agitates something for me. I also don’t think the lunch I had – a salad buffet followed by Fideo (pasta) soup and lasagne – helped very much. As much as I love to eat the local delicacies when travelling, I really think I need to start making more sensible food choices and being kind to my insides.
I decided to head back to my hostel so I would at least be nearby a (clean) toilet if needed and spent an hour relaxing on the rooftop before taking my first – and last – Spanish lesson. I’ve moved quite quickly through South America and haven’t really had the time, or the money, to spend taking classes, but Sucre is a popular place as the lessons are some of the cheapest and it is a relaxed, chilled city. Plus the hostel I was staying in is also a Spanish school, so even though I am near the end of my travels and was unlikely to learn much more in one 2 hour class (at 70 bolivianos, or £8.50), it felt like a nice and relevant experience while in South America. Plus it was kind of fun to feel like I was back at school and (I’m sorry, but I am going to sound like a pretentious twat now) I really do enjoy learning.
That evening, still feeling rough, I indulged with some chocolate while packing my bags (crazy to think I won’t need to do that soon) for the next morning. I set my alarm for 5:30am as I wanted to catch the 7am bus to Potosi, paying 10 bolivianos (£1.20) to get from my hostel to the bus terminal at 6:30am and then paying 20 bolivianos (£2.40) for the bus to Potosi, leaving Sucre with more than I arrived with.