More bed rest than sightseeing

Trip Start Sep 28, 2007
Trip End Jun 25, 2008

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, March 30, 2008

Three hours from Potosi is the pretty white-walled colonial city of Sucre. It has lost its governmental capital title to La Paz but is still the judicial capital.

We stayed at a Hosteling International hostel close to the bus terminal and it was the most amazing old residence, with cast iron furniture in the walled garden and a dining room with chandeliers and the most gigantic silver tea pots I have ever seen. Unfortunately its tranquility was ruined by the renovations underway, but it was still a nice place to stay, which was good as we spent two nights longer there than planned due to illness.

The first day we both got out for sightseeing, decongestants working a treat on my cold. We wandered around the market and the main plaza, which was back to Mexican standards it was so full of people and with beautifully tended gardens.

As we sat in the plaza planning what to do next, a shoe shine boy approached us, pleading us to let him clean our shoes, especially Mark's, which were, admittedly, very dusty, but also plastic. (He even stopped us later in the evening -  we hoped through being so appalled at the state of Mark's shoes rather than absolute desperation.)

For a view of the city we wandered up the hill to the mirador (lookout), in front of yet another church and museum. The children were still on their break for lunch and looked funny in their white dresses and overcoats, almost like lab coats.

We stopped at the beautiful Mirador cafe at the top, which has a beautiful garden and view over the city, with good food and juices. After soaking up the sun, I left Mark to his own devices and went to the museum of indigenous art.

It was based around weaving and a project to invigorate traditional weaving in the local communities, even getting men involved. It was interesting to see photos of the local costumes, especially of the group where the men wear strange white pants that have strange shaping so they look like (or actually do) start after the buttocks, I couldn't quite tell, something white covers their backsides though.

The museum works with two main groups who have very different styles of contemporary weaving, namely the Tarabuco who do intricate pictograms of everyday life scenes with white over blues, purples and greens mainly, and the Jalq'a that weave mythical creatures in red and black. They really are amazing and evolving as the project goes on.

The museum also looks at traditional use and design of woven cloth used in the region and other tip bits like the importance of visiting virgins to obtain inspiration for weaving and the carefully arranged plates of food and decorated llama fetuses used to ask for blessings.

It also has rooms looking at music and dance cultures, and finally, an amazing collection of burial artifacts from Tiwanaku people, that are well-preserved due to the rainless area they were found in.

To show my support for the project (and because I liked it), I bought a brown llama leather handbag with a panel of the red and black Jalq'a weaving on the front. It felt expensive but the exchange rate makes it less than NZ$50.

Meeting up with Mark again, we had wanted to see the painting of the Virgin de Guadalupe that had been decorated with donated gem stones from rich Sucre residents, but it seemed the altar was under renovation. So we stopped in a cafe claiming to do the best Sangria in town. And it was good.

That is all I have to say about Sucre because I spent the next two days at the hostel sleeping. The bad cold that went to my ears got joined by nasty diarrhoea, knocking me out. Still, it was the first real illness I'd had in six months of travel so I was well due for it.

Mark went out to the park where you can see dinosaur footprints (and models, including of a tuatara) in an old quarry. You can read about it on his blog at
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