Actually... hello GAP again!

Trip Start Jun 09, 2009
Trip End Jun 22, 2009

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It was a bit of a rough crossing from Cochabamba - we crossed a couple of mountain passes and spent most of the time on really rough, narrow, dirt roads - but at least Jon fitted in the seat this time and there was heating for Ali!
We arrived early morning, were approached by a strange lady offering advice in too good English for our liking and caught a taxi into the town.  A little wandering and we find ourselves a hostel to stay for a few nights - all relatively good so far, although we later learn the advert for 24hr hot water is on the imaginative side!
A 12 hour night bus, little sleep, super fast cold shower (Chris and Lenny will appreciate that Ali was only in the shower for barely 4 minutes!), but there was no stopping us... we arrived early Sunday morning and heard there was a Sunday market being held in one of the local villages (Tarabuca) where they sell local produce and material wear that they make by traditional methods.   So, another 3 hour local bus ride later...
The little village was alive with locals and travellers alike, a real festival of colours and cultures, and quite good fun.  Ali purchased her second scarf (to go with her 2 hats!) and a couple of other prezzies (those of you back home may have to wait a while though as post is a little on the slow side) and of course a little something for ourselves as a souvineer from Bolivia.  A bit of bartering, a light bite to eat (with impromptu native dance show) and we head back to Sucre for a nap!
Waking bright eyed and bushy tailed (read red eyed and hungry) we head into the main square - South Americans have a love of main squares, maybe itīs the Spanish influence, but all the life of the cities revolves around these squares.  Sucre its self is really quite beautiful, all the buildings are white and colonial in style, the streets are predominantly cobbled and the locals take a real pride in the place (although with the many narrow streets, it doesnīt take long for traffic fumes from the chokey old cars, buses, taxis etc to clog the air).  We find a place to drink, enjoy a bit of a sit down and on heading else where for a bite to eat, bump into our ex GAP group!  Five of the Peru tour group have continued on a tour through Bolivia and Brazil and we just happen to be in the same place at the same time.  A few quick introductions to their particularly cheerful guide and we are invited to visit a local orphanage with them, join them for dinner for the next few days and asked if we want to do any of their optional activities while they have a few free days in Sucre!
The orphanage is a soft spot in Davidīs (tour guide) heart and has been visiting it on and off as he passes through the area.  We are advised it would be hospitable to bring a few gifts with us and it is suggested we find out what they actually need.  So, a quick stop at some of the markets and mop, broom, 4 gallons of milk, toilet roll, socks, toothbrushes and ladle in hand, not to mention an abundance of fruit we enter into an orphanage of a truely grateful bunch of young girls.  Food is dished ut, smiles are returned, mops etc given to the carers and fresh bread is offered our way.  A couple of hours passes by with games played, footballs thrown around, frisbies chased and a lot of personal interaction - they were all very affectionate and genuinly pleased to see us, they obviously get minimal family style love and attention although they are all cared for very well.  All in all it was a really enjoyable afternoon.
In the evening we joined the group for a meal at a resturant with a view over the entire city, unfortunately thatīs about all it had!  No fish dishes, a few chicken dishes, one bottle of wine and one waiter/cook/barman!  Ah well, canīt win em all.  A couple of drinks later and we are in a kareoke bar (much to Jons disgust)... the rest, well...
Today we joined a few of our exes for a bit of a horse ride.  Itīs our last day in Sucre and have managed to spend suprisingly little time in the city its self and the horse riding was no exception.  We met in the morning and mounted our steeds for a 5 or so hour ride to a neighbouring village.  Ali (it seems to always happen to her) had a horse that was singularly in love with our guides horse - visions of little control, slight looks of panic, and alot of nose to tail action!  Jon, on the other hand, got a new horse to the group (who hadnīt even been given a name) and although enjoyed the open mountain sides and getting back on a horse, was a little disapointed not to be given the opportunity to cowl down and hit a gallop or two - oh and the fact that when we reached a river crossing his horse decided to have a cool down roll!!  A little damper than when we started (well Jon anyway!), and a few bruises and scratches (Aliīs horse seemed to have no regard for the rider when it came to negociating trees and cacti!) and we ride into a little back of nowhere village to be greeted by a 70-something, 4ft nothing, excesively happy Bolivian lady called Nina.  At which point we were easily plyed with a local, slightly alcoholic, brew made from corn, fresh bread and soft cheese.
And thatīs it, tomorrow we have a 6.30am bus to Uyuni, where we will probably book a tour of the salt flats.  A little careful examination of whats on offer may be needed (ie 24 blankets and super thermal sleeping bags) as it is known to get down to -30oC there...  After that itīs a race to the boarder, well by the way Bolivians run their times you never know when we might get there, but we head for Argentina anyway.
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