02.03.2008 - 08.03.2008 24 °C
From here on in our trip is very much decided on a day by day basis. We have a target of being in Peru to start the Inca Trail on 29th March and that's about it other than the D day of 24th April in Lima when we head home.
Our first decision was whether or not to stop in Potosi, a famous mining town. To be honest it is known for little else than this and being the world's highest town so we decided to give it a miss. As we passed through on the bus and it poured with rain we decided that the right decision had been made. Many traveller's stop over here to take a trip down the mine and play with dynamite which anyone can buy down the local store. For us though there was little appeal in going down the mines which are mined in a way similar to what you would have expected a century ago! Unsurprisingly life expectancy here isn't exactly favourable.
The bus journey lasted around 10 hours in total and we arrived in Sucre in total darkness. Sadly now we are further up north the days seem much shorter again. However a short cab ride and we found our hostel, an old colonial building with several courtyards. Unfortunately the weather over the next few days didn't permit a lot of time in these.
Sucre is often mooted as the Fiorentina of Bolivia due the the many many white buildings and tericota roof's. In between the dark clouds and rain you can definately see it's beauty.
The third of the main stories in Bolivia revolves around hygiene and illness. Unfortunately this along with the altitude began to catch up with us. To be honest nothing was that bad and we have been quite lucky to date too. We searched out some herbal remadies which have since helped immensely.
One attraction of Sucre was the persuit of more outdoor activities. The weather was not to be too kind to us however and most of our time was spent acclimatising to the altitude and when possible having a wonder around the town. In my head I was still not sure if I was going to cycle the most dangerous road in the world so I went on the look out for a cycling trip to ease myself back in. After all I hadn't been on a bike since I left home. I found a great trip through a local guide which involved four 20 minute decents and a 50 minute one to finish with. The weather combined with zero interest form anyone else put paid to my great intentions however. The cycling would have to wait for now.
Just to keep us on our toes we found ourselves in the middle of another protest. This time thousands of locals were up in arms over a decision to take away many of the towns powers as the judicial capital of Bolivia. Or at least that's what we made out. Tyre's were being burnt in the main square and a few notable people were making speeches from the town hall. Every now and again a bit of dynamite would explode and shots could be heard. As we tried to make our way out the national anthym started and of course a local indicated to us that we should stop in our tracks and respect it till the end. All in it was pretty exciting seeing all this happen but as usual we jumped out of our skins at the bangs that marked the end of the protest.
I decided to substitute the cancelled cycling attempt with some more horse riding. I had enjoyed my last trip immensely but Ali chose not to come this time around, instead chosing to go to the spa and get a massage and manicure. Far better she would say, and perhaps so.
As it turned out it was raining. This seemed to be the norm in Sucre during our brief stay!! The rainy season was meant to be at an end, or at least that was in our plan!! The horse I got was rather large and the "cowboy" let me know I had been fortunate enough to get the frisky one. What does that mean? Well, I can now tell you it means that it likes to gallop. A LOT. Some of the others on the trip had a good laugh as my horse would jolt off with me hanging on for dear life. I bloody well enjoyed it though. I am just glad nothing got in the way that we had to jump over. The camera had been playing up over the last week what with the dust in the dessert, the altitude, heat and no doubt general age. Well, it's life was about to end. I took aim for a scenic picture and the good old horse decided it was time to go. I drop the camera and then turn around to see another approach. Of course it was never going to go around the camera. I am now in possession of a horse trodden camera. Sadly there were circa 120 pictures of the Salt Flats on there that will never be seen again. On the plus side a few friends have chipped in by giving me copies of their's whilst they were on the same tour.
As was the norm by now we met up with quite a few familiar faces in Sucre. This will be a common theme in Bolivia/Peru no doubt as more than ever we find ourselves following the "Gringo Trail". Going off the beaten path is possible but not always advisable here. Not to worry though as there is plenty to see and do on it.