Trip Start Dec 30, 2007
19Trip End Apr 24, 2008
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Where I stayed
Milano Hotel (good price, good breakfast, close to main Plaza)
On Sunday we took a 64k bus ride from Sucre to Tarubuco Sunday Market. It was rather a bumpy journey in a packed mini bus with Peter half on and half off the seat, the tall man opposite crouching over grasping the roof for stabilisation. The initial disappointment on arrival as we glanced round a little square with a few food stalls soon dissipated as we discovered the market along narrow unevenly cobbled streets selling typical colourful blankets, bags, hats ... an endless list for the discerning tourist!
Here, the locals dressed quite differently, including the men (and this is a first), Women still wear the skirts, but the hats are incredible; close fitting and black with glittering sequins adorning the front, where tassles dangle and dance as the women walk. The men wear heavy cotton (looking) blankets; two sewn together to make a kind of cape, this over short trousers with small brown feet in dusty sandals. They are not ashamed to be seen in one of the hats either! In one area, near the indoor market there were donkeys tethered (parked?) in a large rough field I was going to wander further, but apparently at the bottom there was an area that passed as toilets .... no doubt men one side, women the other.
It is normal in this country to see any number of sacks of potatoes. In Sucre itself two sides of a small plaza, at least forty by forty metres with full sacks, around 3 or 4 deep; neatly piled bannanas, tomatoes, apples ... the list is endless, but I must include the ubiquitous and wonderful avocado. The only question is how on earth do they sell them all before they rot. A Bolivian mystery.
The Terabuco market also had the usual eating hall; little areas with a counter and small space to cook and prepare drinks. The concoctions look appetising (for meat eaters) and when he spied some freshly cooked chips Peter wished for the constitution of a local. (Who knows how long the lard had been standing?) These stalls cover a massive area, say 50 x100 metres, all busy, with little cauldrons bubbling at the front so patrons could view the goods before buying. We assumed the donkeys were the means of transport and a visit to the market a day out for local country folk, who would treat themselves to dinner.
The return journey was fascinating. Luckily the three of us (Ursula had joined us for the trip) got the comfortable back seat. Squashed behind us in the rather narrow luggage area was a boy and a small man, kind of twisted and hunched to fit. In the facing seats in front of us, the driver managed to squeeze in eight people. A mother with a fractious baby tried to appease the child with first one breast then the other, the other passengers chatted and giggled, a child spread herself out across the two adults accompanying her. After a short distance the woman got off taking both fractious baby and feeding implements with her, collected her son from the back before picking up a bundle and departing. This allowed for another passenger; this time a man with a toddler, who took an interest in all about him. Thus, the journey continued over rutted roads, round hairpin bends and steep drops, but Bolivia is beautiful and the scenery breathtaking.
But that was only a day`s outing the real escape had to wait for two more days. Nothing is certain here, things change with the weather so the plane journey we were supposed to make on Tuesday evening didn`t happen. The rain had been falling incessantly for around twenty four hours and our flight was cancelled. It was difficult returning to the hotel even for a short period of just over twelve hours because I really wanted a new start after the difficulties suffered on leaving La Paz.
So far all is well. Gone are the huge skirts, the hats, and most of the tourist shops. This place is almost normal and yet different enough to be Bolivia. Local people are friendly and not imposing, there are fewer beggars and the main Plaza is magnificent; bigger than usual, beautifully paved with plenty of trees and reonvation work completed along one side and in progress along the others. There is always a Cathedral and this one a shining example, but thankfully without the opulent gold leaf which spoils so many. What`s more they are clearly not expecting any large scale fires, or cats stuck up trees because the local Fire Service is busy with its high ladder squirting water at the red brick cathedral wall to give the poor old thing a good clean up.
Finally, for this time, I must tell you we have train tickets for a place called Quijaro which is on the Brazilian border. How or whether we can get from the Brazilian border town to Recife or any of the other beaches I don`t know ... Brazil is a big (no massive) country, but it will be good to be back and hear the magic of their special brand of Portuguese. Of course, that is assuming the train actually leaves Santa Cruz!
Stay safe all of you, I hear the winter in the UK is trying a final blast ... hope the daffodils will soon be making the days bright ... go hug one for me.