Jurassic Park?

Trip Start Aug 12, 2011
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, November 5, 2011

We were blessed with some great advice for our stay in Sucre from a student run information centre. We learned that it was worthwhile getting the tourist bus out to Tarabuco for the Sunday market but that we were much better off getting the local bus out to Cal Ork'o to see the dinosaur footprints. So we got on the local bus our first afternoon in Sucre. We knew the right bus number and which street to get it from, so how hard could it be, right? Apart from the fact we didn't know exactly where to get off. We figured a dinosaur footprint park had to be a pretty big place on the edge of town. So we squeezed in amongst all the Bolivians and enjoyed seeing the local neighborhoods and people. We got to the end of the bus route and couldn't see our park so we asked the driver and he nodded across the street and said to ask he guy at the gate. We did this and were directed up the hill. The reason this place wasn't as obvious as we thought was that the prints were discovered in a cement mine and you get to the park through the gates of the still operating cement works. We joined a group of tourists for a fairly succinct tour in English which told us a little bit about local dinosaurs and how they discovered the prints. Apparently the cement works got to a layer of rock that was unsuitable for cement and stopped digging and then after some rain the workers spotted the footprints. Unfortunately the rock face is quite volatile and they can't take tourists too close to it for fear they will get squashed by rocks. So you have to view the prints through a telescope from about 300 metres away. Our guide was able to use the zoom on our camera to show us some of the best prints, there are tracks of different dinosaurs up and down the rock face. So we have a few choice pics! They also have some life size models of various dinosaurs in the park so after we'd seen enough of the prints we played amongst the dinosaurs for a bit.

That night we broke our long distance bus ride fast (food is available on these trips but is neither abundant nor particularly nutritious) at a fabulous restaurant/ bar where we enjoyed delicious tortillas and local beers. Sucre is in fact a pretty good spot to have some good meals. We enjoyed a particularly nice bottle of white from Tarija in Southern Bolivia one night. Simon is still raving about the breakfast he had of fruit salad, yoghurt and an amazing berry compote.

We were in town for a Sunday and we had heard that the market in nearby Tarabuco was worth going to. Tarabuco is a couple hours drive out of Sucre which meant our bus ride gave us a good chance to see some of the countryside. It is very dry and hilly and you can just imagine all the tectonic movement in the surrounding mountains. We were still a little disorientated by the thousands of gum trees in Bolivia, we knew from the mountains we couldn't be in Australia but... Where were we then? Tarabuco turned out to be a decent sized town so we made our way through the streets to the square where the market is held. It certainly is an amazing collection of sellers, many with genuine artisan goods and antique Bolivian textiles and also quite a lot of, shall we say, lower grade goods. We were trying to start our Christmas shopping but instead bought ourselves a fine runner with Andean cross design and an 'antique' (second hand?) woven piece of fabric that we thought would make a fine table cloth for our coffee table. Miriam failed in her mission to find a stylish poncho for the next Melbourne winter. We were particularly impressed by the larger-than-life size sculpture in the village square of a Bolivian who had just vanquished a Spaniard and was in the process of eating his heart. Our bus from Sucre had dropped us outside a charming family run restaurant who had clearly developed a successful business model in conjunction with some of the tourist buses coming from Sucre. They seemed to have more tourists than they could deal with that day! They served us very nice soup and we were treated to a show of traditional dancing from some of the younger members of the family.
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