Good evening from Bolivia´s constitutional capital - the white city of Sucre. This is my 3rd day in this city (pretty much the longest we´ve had anywhere) and I´ve got to say there isn´t an awful lot to do here. The city centre is very small. We had a wander through the nice white streets on day 1, but aside from going to the textile museum we did pretty much everything there and then! I´m looking forward to departing at 12pm tomorrow to the city of Potosi, which is just 3 hours away (3 hours genuinely seems like nothing to me now!).
Joaquin gave us a walking tour of Cochabamba on our 1 day there. That started with a short cable car ride up to the world´s largest Christ statue. The view of the city from the hill was good, but it was a bit hazy. From the viewpoint we could spot a few apartment blocks and a lot of livable detached houses, something I´d barely seen in Peru. Bolivia, although meant to be poorer than Peru, certainly doesn´t seem it. There are also a lot more modern cars about and the people dress in more western clothes, making them look more modern (they´re also not quite as ugly as Peruvians!). Following the Christ statue we visited the grounds of a large manor house, which was once home to Bolivia´s richest family who'd made their fortune through silver mining. The family had recently upped sticks and moved to Switzerland though, and they had given their house to the Bolivian authorities for tourism. We couldn´t be bothered to wait around for the guided tour so didn´t see inside the house. There wasn´t an awful lot else to Cochabamba, other than a nice ice cream place (massive ice creams for less than a pound) and a couple of pretty standard plazas. It was a good job we only had 1 day and were departing on the night bus that evening.
This night bus was much much worse than our previous 1 - basically just a scruffy coach with barely reclinable seats. I popped half a sleeping pill this time following the horrors of taking a full 1 last time. It certainly worked, but didn´t prevent me waking up during a couple of pointless food stops in the night, and certainly didn´t allow me to sleep through the bus getting a puncture on 1 of the dirt tracks! We were there half an hour as the wheel was changed! Near Sucre, came another hold up, as the uptight Bolviian authorities wanted to check all our passports and hand luggage. We finally arrived to Sucre 2 hours late at around 8am, making the total journey time 10 hours.
There was a farce with the hotel when we arrived, and they didn't have us booked in for the 1st night of our stay, so we had to go to a nearby equally good hotel for that night. The next morning I was up at 7 to go on a mountain biking/hiking day in the mountains 1.5 hours up a horrendous dirt road from Sucre. The driver of our people mover though he was a rally driver. I was in the middle seat of the back row and had nothing to hold on to and was being bounced all over the place for the whole journey. Animals the driver came excruciatingly close to hitting include 3 dogs, 1 goat, 1 cow, 1 pig and 1 old man. Bolivian beauracracy then held us up again as a drunk policeman wanted all our details at an isolated checkpoint, but once passed him we were able to offload the mountain bikes for a 45 minute ride down a load of switchbacks. I was able to really let myself go this time without the worry of death if I fell off, and got up to some high speeds on my way down. The bikes and equipment were nowhere near as good as the other company, but that wasn´t so bad. At least we avoided talks on how to change gear before we set off.
In the afternoon we drove a further 1.5 hours into a huge crater, where we started a 5km each way hike to some dinosaur footprints. The terrain was very volcanic and dusty, with lots of different colours visible in the soil. We arrived in good time at the stone face containing the very well preserved footprints of a few different types of dinosaurs dating from 65 million years ago. Quite incredible how they´ve been preserved so well. Apparently the rock was once a lake bed. We were the only tourists there or anywhere near which was nice, and could go right up to the footprints and put our hands in them and stuff. During the walk back the sun disappeared and storm clouds appeared over the opposite valley. This really got our Spanish speaking guide worried. Even though we got back to the vans before the steady rain hit (we missed the main part of the storm) he was very worried about the prospect of flash flooding (a real danger with such arid land) raising the river level at a ford we had driven through. I was half expecting to have to spend the night at some locals house, but fortunately we were lucky and the river was still fine.
Last night we all went out to some pubs around town, taking advantage of the cheap cocktails here. Today I´ve felt very tired and had a bath in my hotel room and done not a lot else. I at least managed to catch the last 10 minutes of the Manchester derby on fox sports after the kitchen next door woke me up after 3 hours sleep. Tonight we´re off to see City of God 2 at a local bar. I can´t even find any proof of its existence on the internet. Maybe they mean City of Men? Anyway must go. Bye for now.