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Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 340-342 – Bolivia – Sucre – Part 1

We were up and alive and our pre-booked taxi was there right on time. There’d been a change of plan and we were off to the international airport as the flight had switched to a larger plane to accommodate a full passenger quota. We arrived and saw no information related to our flight at all but after initial concerns that we’d been fed more bad advice discovered that the boards hadn’t been updated since the night before – pretty comical and a cause for confusion for more than just us.

Check in was quick and simple, as was the flight. The view from the window was amazing – we basically rose until we were flying over the tops of mountains all of which had meandering dirt roads and occasional dwellings incomprehensibly located at such heights. When it came to descending it felt like we dropped about 3 feet to the runway – Sucre is high. 2750m (9,000 ft) if Wikipedia is anything to go by. That’s high.

We collected our luggage and met Nienke, who was also from Holland, in town doing much the same as we were – and then there were 6. Fi and I took a separate taxi to everyone else agreeing to meet later and rolled through the white streets of Sucre to our Hostel. I’ll admit that the city is not as white as I’d wanted it to be – it’s known as the white city – but the major central buildings are and amidst the rooftops later it would prove a captivating spectacle for me.

Arriving at our hostel we buzzed and were let in. I kid you not when I say that Casa Al Tronco almost brought me to my knees – this was my kinda place. Beautiful spacious rooms, perfect hosts, quiet, spectacular views, white walls surrounding a flower laden courtyard, an upstairs fully-equipped kitchen…within minutes I was trying to move in for the month. The price relative to most countries was ridiculously cheap even if relative to Bolivia it was probably on the premium side. Sometimes you just have to splash, and as a place to stop for a while and recharge I could have asked for nothing more.

After getting over our delight at our new home we wandered into the centre where – after failing to meet our travelling amigos – we chanced upon another parade – two in two days – involving traditionally dressed Bolivian women [‘cholitas’] spinning around as they glided through the streets supported by marching brass band and crazy dancing suited-and-booted blokes. All those taking part were passing hastily acquired cans of Paceña – the apparent beer of choice for parading citizens. My camera was going like a Gatling gun and after an hour or so we left the parade and decided to pick up supplies for our attempt at a bit of healthy eating for the foreseeable future. We found a message on our return to the hostel that the girls were heading to the Convento down the road for sunset so we wandered out to meet them when the time arrived.

The weather was doing its level best to rain and cooling down significantly so we elected to move further into town and look for a place for a coffee down there. We found by chance a rooftop terrace with spectacular views as the weather cleared and the sunset was back on. The temperature started to drop further as we wandered the streets in search of food before returning to a place near where we started and taking in some traditional Bolivian dishes and the cheapest happy-hour cocktails ever (effectively less that 75p each) while chatting non-stop for hours.

We eventually said goodnight and made our way back up the hill, ashamed at our lack of health and fitness but refusing to blame the altitude for our weariness when we eventually arrived.

An early start came naturally and I hopped out to make some morning coffee before setting to work. This was the start in earnest of us finally settling for a while – I intended to do nothing but relax, eat well, write up blogs and process photos for as long as we could justify sitting still. 11 months of near constant pushing-on had taken their toll on me. I think this was in no small part due to the foolish commitment I’d taken on to blog to adventure. Actually, that’s not quite accurate – plenty of people we met around the globe had much more effective methods for capturing the tales and images of their adventures, and even I don’t regret resolving to record our journey. It’s just that the approach I’d pushed on with was so time-consuming that we were inevitably behind, and that became pressure to make an effort to catch up. It was fair to say that if all went to plan over the subsequent month I intended there to be precious little worth writing about of our time in Sucre.

The evening promised to be good again as arrangements were made for a rendezvous at our place before another meal out. A bit of shopping saw us grab some stuff for exercising – continuing our exceptionally bold commitment to doing something healthy during our time in Sucre. I also grabbed some ridiculously cheap trainers to give my long-standing smell-like-death trainers a chance for a boil wash and a last-ditch opportunity for resurrection before I threw them out. The all-weather pong’ers had made me extremely self-conscious, in particular when out with new-found friends and I’d catch a whiff of my reeking footwear and be certain that everyone’s lasting memory of me would be as the smelly traveller. No more said I!

We rushed back up the hill (and a hell of a hill it was; I wondered whether it would get any easier) in advance of our evening rendezvous with Johanna, Anne, Nienke and Babiche. We arranged to meet them at the Convento again down the road as everyone knew where that was and the evening weather promised another good sunset. We called on Charlotte who was also staying at out hostel and hails from Scotland. She decided to join us for the evening bringing my grand total of female entourage up to an all-time-high of 6, making me look like a wandering sultan amidst his ravishing harem / the token homosexual chap (though both guises would require a finer physique and wardrobe than I had at my disposal).

After sunset we took a quick tour of our hostel to show off our spectacular accommodation for the coming fortnight (at least!) then made our way to the centre of town to meet Anne who’d stayed back to rest. We had happy hour drinks and then proceeded to wander for half an hour in search of food only to return once again to the same street and visit the Joyride cafe. Johanna, Anne, Babiche and Nienke had been here twice already but with a good menu and a good atmosphere it was worth returning again. It was another great evening – they take their beer very seriously and serve a wide variety from around the world and the food was delicious even if it over-faced us all. This was to be the last time we’d see our group on this trip so we said our heavy-hearted goodbyes and Fi, Charlotte and I made the always annoying long hike up the hill back to our gaff.