Saturday and Sunday in Sucre

Sunday, July 25, 2010
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
We arrived from Potosi to Sucre on Friday evening, dumping our bags at to our less than desirable hostel and heading out in search of food. We took a stroll around the plaza, with many local folks also enjoying the warm evening (by our recently adjusted standards) and an ample supply of cozy late night cafes to choose from. We ended up in the crowded Bibliocafe sharing a delicious quinoa pie with sausage and cheese baked into it and a banana and chocolate crepe for dessert. I also treated myself to a "submarino" which is a chocolate bar melted into a cup of hot milk. By the time we were served and ate, it was midnight, well after our bedtimes, but it looked as though the nightlife in Sucre was just getting going.

We had a leisurely morning and headed to the well-known and well-presented textile museum. We were surprised with the depth of cultural meaning represented in both the process of weaving and the products for various indigenous cultures in the region. It was fascinating and each room had a chapters of information to read so we were moving slowly. The museum closed for lunch and siesta from noon to 2:30 so we were booted out until later.

We then opted for a delicious lunch of the day at a cafe with a sunny courtyard in its colonial building. Next we went into full tourist mode and took the "dino bus" out of town to a site of impressive dinosaur tracks that were discovered while the neighboring cement factory was quarrying. Unfortunately we couldn´t get very close to them because the uplifted vertical wall was starting to erode and had collapsed in sections, so we were confined to views through binoculars from the life-size dinosaur model theme park complete with recorded noises. At least the experienced highlighted the interesting geological history of the region...

Returning to Sucre proper, we hustled over to the textile museum for our second installment, barely finishing before they closed for the day, but they kindly invited us to come back when they reopened on Monday. Dinner was at a Dutch ex-pat´s popular restaurant called Florin and we were pleasantly surprised to see his varieties of microbrewed beer on the drink menu, but much less pleasantly surprised upon tasting them quite tragically. The food on the other hand was amazing and a nice break from traditional Bolivian fare.

On Sunday, we headed a couple of hours by bus into the countryside to the highly indigenous village of Tarabuco, known for their (touristy) Sunday market. I had a typical local breakfast in a pretty cafe, it consisted of api, a warm thick and sweet corn based drink, and buñuelo, basically fried dough and delicious! We cruised both the touristy stalls with a nice perspective of the textiles for offer (thanks to the museum) and then the local produce and random things sections. We bought a small bag of coca leaves to chew and a yummy potato and beef stew from the lunch stalls. When we could resist no longer, we invested in a beautiful black and red weaving from the Jall´qa culture that represents the spirit world with fanciful creatures. We bought it from a store of the same non-profit that runs the textile museum in Sucre, so the majority of the cost will go directly to the artist and the rest supports conservation and education of local weaving traditions so they don´t disappear. Another amusing anecdote of the day, was first Matt being approached by a mentally-discapacitated elderly man who reached up and firmly tugged his beard, then cracked up laughing while rubbing his smooth face. Later, as we walked by a stall at the market, a man picked up a razor and insistently shook it at Matt as we passed by. We looked back at him and all three of us were laughing.

That evening when we returned to town, we had a sequel dinner at Florin and headed to the bus station dreading our 12 hour overnight bus on a bumpy road to our next destination of Cochabamba. Overall, we really enjoyed Sucre, as much as we can enjoy any city that is. It reminded me in many ways of Cuenca, Ecuador where I spent my last semester of college studying abroad. The one aspect we found unappealing was the anti-indigenous overtones since Sucre is dominated by a wealthy mestizo and criollo class. Upon arrival our taxi driver railed against Evo Morales, Bolivia´s president, because he is indigenous, and Bolivia´s first one despite having an indigenous majority. Also, we noticed lots of anti-indigenous graffiti as well as and anti-Evo posters, bumperstickers, etc. Elsewhere we had traveled, there were ample banners and murals enthusiastically supporting him.

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