Parties and Political Unreset

Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
Trip End Dec 16, 2008

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, September 6, 2008

So I found myself in a little political unrest in Sucre, Bolivia.  Here's the deal.

Bolivia is a country divided.  Most of the population in the Western Highlands are indigenous, while the people in the wealthier eastern lowlands are predominantly of Spanish descent.  In fact, Bolivia has two capital cities - La Paz is the capital of the Indigenous highlands and Sucre is the capital of the Spanish lowlands. 

The current president, Evo Morales, is the first indigenous president in Bolivia's history and he's making changes that the European-Bolivians are not happy with - and there are protests in the Eastern cities.  

Right now, the US is supporting the Spanish East (that's where the oil reserves are, after all) and you may have read that Evo recently ejected the US ambassador. 

Now the protests are not violent - they block the highways.  Nothing can come in, and nothing can go out of the cities under blockade, including the airports. So they are inconvenient rather than dangerous. 

Sucre was under blockade for a week, so I couldn't get in - but they opened it for a one of their festivals so I dashed in to visit the capital of the Spanish East and party Bolivian style!

The other nice thing is that they announce the blockades a day in advance - so I had 2 days to enjoy Sucre before I had to dash out again.

Sucre is known as the white city - all the buildings are gleaming white. 

The festival has parades and street dances all day, every day for a week.  The dancers have bells on their boots, and each group has it's own band and fireworks.

The fireworks are a little dodgy.  First of all, they are full-sized, like any forth of July or new-years celebration - but they just light them either in the streets, or in the main square.  They do ask people to stand back a few feet... but that's all.  I was about 15 feet from where they were lighting the fireworks!

Sucre is less touristy than the other places I've been, so I'm beginning to see the 7-to-1 prices that I heard so much about.  You can get a decent bed and breakfast for under $12/night.  A bacon-wrapped Fillet Mignon with mushrooms in a wine sauce at a fancy restaurant is $6.50 (that's not a typo).  I ordered a $2.50 glass of Cabernet (the best they had) from the same restaurant, and the waitress twice asked if I was sure I wanted to spend that much (it's the equivalent of $23 to them).

The city has a lot of shoe-shine boys who, for $0.15 will shine your shoes.  And, they all wanted their photos taken - I was their new best friend!

And everyone was dancing in the streets to all the music and fireworks!

Except a few...

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