Our La Paz host, Ruben, at Arthy's guesthouse rushed out into the morning traffic to flag us down a taxi and negotiate a fare to the airport. The flagged vehicle was a clapped out green rust bucket that blocked the traffic to shove our stuff into the boot. After a quick handshake with Ruben, we dived in the back and we were off before R had his second leg in and the door was shut. The journey to El Alto was characterised by rapid acceleration, coasting with the engine off, swerving wildly round minor road defects and heavy breaking as Big Bird swung manically from the rearview mirror.
The short-hop flight to Sucre, although in more reliable transport, was not hugely more relaxing. Due to the extreme altitude, planes need incredibly long runways to take off, and have to land at high speeds, braking harshly. In between times, this flight rarely seemed to scrape its wheels over the high peaks.
In the centre, Sucre is all elegance and colonial splendour hinting at its former status as national capital. From the main square we took the Dino Truck to the still operational National Cement Quarry. Here, 25 years ago, quarry workers discovered what has turned out to be the biggest palaentological site in the world. 5000 footprints from 320 different dinosaurs scale the steep quarry wall. Where once the ground was flat, the tracks were preserved under silt deposits left by the Atlantic ocean and then turned vertical when the Andes were created by tectonic shifting. Fortunately the deposits included manganese oxide, useless for cement, and so they were left undisturbed by the quarry workers.
Palaentologists are fairly philosophical that they will erode quite quickly, now they are exposed to sun, wind and rain, and even the preservation work due to begin with the support of UNESCO will not be enough to stop the eventual fall of the limestone wall due to seismic activity. However, their confidence stems from the belief that this layer is only the beginning. There is more beneath.