Unfortunately I have to report another stressful bus journey. All becoming very familiar in Bolivia. After returning back from the salt flats, both very exhausted and unwell, we decided to get an overnight bus straight out of Uyuni to Sucre where we planned to take it easy for a few days. We were told that there were no toilets on the bus so I tried to be brave as I faced one of the dreaded public toilets across from the so called "bus terminal". I would be lying if I called this one a toilet, it was literally a hole of excrement in the ground, where you're expected to hover over and hope for the best. If you have ever been to a music festival, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about but at least at them, you're usually very drunk, taking away some of the horror and somehow making them bearable. The smell hit me before the site itself, I was sick enough as it was, this was just torture. As a rule of thumb, I never sit on public toilets but I was even afraid to touch the door with this one. I couldn't get out of there quick enough, feeling like I would never be clean again. Once I got back to where the bus was waiting, all hell had broken loose on the streets of Uyuni. The locals weren't letting any buses in or out of the town, blocking them by throwing dynamite, lighting big bonfires, tyres and anything else they could get their hands on. Supposedly, our bus was still going to attempt to get out of Uyuni. I guess that's how bad Uyuni is - the bus driver was willing to risk his life and the lives of all the passengers just to get out of the town. Similar to Salta, our bus drove off to another street where we all had to follow without being to obvious. They wanted us to get on somewhere else so all the protesters wouldn't notice. Once we were on the bus, all the curtains were pulled, lights turned off and everyone ordered to stay silent. We were more than familiar with this act. After a couple of hours freezing our asses off on the bus, we pulled up to what we thought was Sucre. We were all told to get off the bus 5km from Sucre itself because the locals had blocked the roads... that's normal. 4 o' clock in the morning and every passenger including a Bolivian couple in their 80's, grabbed their luggage and started trekking up hilly Sucre. Eventually me and Andrew managed to flag down a taxi with two other gringos. We just went to the nearest hostel for ease 'hostel amigo' which turned out to be horrible but at that stage, we would have slept on tables.
Sucre was a welcoming break for us. We ended up staying 5 days which was a lot of time for a city. We loved it though, it was perfect weather during the day and cool at night. It's a beautiful rich, colonial city that still has mad Bolivian authenticity. Most of the buildings are whitewashed with bright red terracotta roofs and there are far too many churches for one city. The best part of Sucre for us was the choice of food, it had hundreds of normal, good quality restaurants all at Bolivian prices. The most we ever payed for a meal in Sucre was 35 bolivianos (€4) and that was for a really good steak. Honestly its hard to spend money in this country. We lived in a cafe called 'Joyride' where the food was the closest thing to home. Other favourites were Cafe Tertulias, Florin, Chifa New Hong Kong (a really good Chinese) and El Germen. You won't be stuck for choice here. The Central Market in Sucre's centre is another good quick fix option and is open everyday. It is great for absolutely everything - cheap fruit, spices, meat, toiletries, good street food and all sorts of household goods. All the traditional Bolivian women work here, dressed up in their local attire but a word of warning, don't take pictures of them without asking, it doesn't go down too well. We stayed in hostel Amigo which I wouldn't recommend unless you are into crappy, stale bread breakfasts, cold showers and rats. It was a great location and very cheap at 30 bolivianos a night (€3) but for an extra 20 bolivianos, you'd get a much nicer hostel in the same area. Our friend stayed in Hostal Charcas which looked very nice.
Now as for things to do in Sucre, there is plenty.
Joyride tourist office is in the centre of the town and offers every type of adventure sport you can think of and Bolivia is by far the cheapest place to do them. Chile and Argentina are at least 3 times the price. We opted for a day of horse riding where you pay for a full day tour including transport and food, definitely worth the 160 bolivianos.
Sucre cemetery - similar to Recoleta cemetery in Argentine but bigger and instead of just famous and patriotic figures, its a cemetery for everyone. We visited the cemetery on a Saturday and the most amazing thing about it was the amount of people there, none of them tourists, all locals paying their respects or visiting deceased loved ones on their days off. It is incredible the cultural differences you notice when travelling and this one left me awestruck. At home, if you were visiting a cemetery, you'd be lucky to see another person there and most graves would look like they haven't been visited in at least 20 years. Here, every grave or tombstone was colourfully decorated with fresh flowers and many gifts. One particular grave had a football jersey, a bottle of whisky, many photos and a tumbler glass. If you go to Sucre, you have to see this!
Spanish lessons - Sucre is a great place to do some Spanish lessons. They are cheap and there are many schools to choose from. It's a nice city to spend a few weeks in also.
Tarabuco Sunday market - try and plan your days in Sucre so you are there for a Sunday. Tarabuco market is 60km out of the city and is by far the best market I've ever been to. Every Sunday, hundreds of indigenous people set up their market stalls selling some of the most beautiful textiles, clothing, fabrics and colonial art I have ever seen. All of which is incredibly cheap. I'd recommend buying as much as you can afford and posting it home. You will never find things as beautiful as this again. You can get a bus easily from the main square to Tarabuco, buy a return journey for 35 bolivianos.
Dino bus to Cretaceous park - ok so this one would only hold your attention if you were between the ages of 5 and 10 or else really into dinosaurs. They called themselves a theme park but there isn't one ride there except the one you get to the park. The reason I'm mentioning this one is so that you go and look at the bus. This bus is unmissable, it has huge prints of dinosaurs all over it but the best part is the inside. They had obviously completely gutted the bus of everything inside and in it's place nailed down 20 of those swivel office chairs and some old school desks. Its ridiculous looking. The bus departs from the main square.
Museo de la Recoleta is an old convent turned school which offers the most impressive view point of the city. You'll get the best pictures of the city here. It also houses many religious painting, sculptures and colourful courtyard gardens.
Parc de Eiffel and Tomba ice cream - south of the town, there is a small park called Parc de Eiffel where they have reconstructed a much smaller version of the Eiffel Tower. It's a nice park and worth a visit, it also has the oldest ice cream stand in Sucre where they sell the famous 'Tomba' flavoured ice cream, a local Bolivian fruit.
That's it from Sucre, next stop La Paz. I'll keep you posted!!