(Side note: I didn't post any pictures of Laguna Colorada (a red lake) or Laguna Verde (a green lake) in my last post because doing so would take more time than I'm willing to donate, but if I find some time tomorrow in Santa Cruz, I will do so. They're some pretty cool-looking lakes.)
Here's the story from this morning:
I was sittng in Sucre´s very pleasant main plaza under the shade of a palm tree readng this morning when a shoeshine boy posted up in front of me and asked me which country I´m from
. I was asked this twice last night by similar boys--they responded that Washington is the capital and expected to be given some money for their knowledge. The first boy received 5 Bolivianos. The second was told that I had already heard that one just a few minutes earlier. Anyhow, I told the boy this morning to guess where I am from, and despite my (seemingly) obvious clues, I had to tell him. We struck up a conversation consisting of him asking me to let him shine my shoes (which are really just sandals with a rubber front), and me asking him which soccer teams he likes, etc. Soon enough four of his colleagues had joined him and I was conversing with all of them in a similar fashion. When they figured out that I wasn´t going to budge on the shoe shine idea they began telling me that they were very hungry, and would I please give them money for food? This was a bit more interesting, but I really wanted to read. So I did what every sane person would have done: I told them to come back in an hour (noon) and we´d go to the central market and get lunch. This set off a frenzy of chatter and smiles. One of the boys laid on his back and started convulsing--I think it was a pathetic attempt at breakdancing. Anyway, they left me alone for the next 30 minutes and I read in peace. (I should mention here that I really really like sucre. It may just be that it´s the weekend, but it´s a very laid-back place with great buildings and the main plaza is a wonderful place to pass some time. My hotel is also very nice, with a courtyard and comfortable rooms and a rooftop terrace--used for laundry and cleaning supply storage, but I like it nonetheless. It´s a little expensive (70 Bs., which is $8.75) but I´m at the end of the trip and I decided to splurge a little.) Alright, back to the story. The boys came back at 11:30 and then 11:40, when they told me that lots of people eat at the market at noon and we wouldn´t be able to get a table if we waited. I caved and we left, our walking broken by excited jumping and laughing, etc. So we all ate big meals of soup and meat with noodles and salad, and shared 2 liters of Pepsi, and then they conned me into buying them new shoe shine cream. In all I spent less than $10 (Bolivia is so cheap). But the boys were really nice and appreciative (they said thank you twice each after both the soup and the main). I had a fun time hanging out with them, although I´m now carefully monitoring my digestive tract for signs of distress; with what looked like less than sanitary cooking conditions (not to mention a the entire lower leg of a hen, foot/claw and all, in my soup--Molly, you'd have loved it) and a small grimy-faced speechless child putting his hands on the back of my neck, then on my face and rubbing my beard, I think my chances of getting something increased ten-fold over the course of the meal. As long as I don´t die I´d say it was worth it.
Anyway, that's the story, and I posted a picture of the boys. All in all not a bad way to pass the lunch hour.
And now, a brief entry about my morning/early afternoon today in Sucre (which is a great city to hang out in--I'm staying in a great place with a courtyard and it's a great place to read).