11.11.2008 - 26.11.2008
I have the time now, so I figure I might as well start writing about Sucre to get a head start and then add on more as the days continue.
So after arriving in Sucre around 9pm, I checked into a hostel for the night - walked around the city for a bit looking for food, but that was about it. The next morning I checked out and headed to the Bolivian Spanish School, where I am currently taking private lessons, to get everything organized and move into my Bolivian family's home.
The school is great! I'm already learning a lot since there isn't nearly as much distraction here as there was in Buenos Aires. Sucre is a very tranquilo, beautiful city, much more than any of the others I have seen thus far in Bolivia. It used to be the capitol of Bolivia before La Paz took the title; however, people here believe that Sucre is in fact still Bolivia' capitol. Nonetheless, because of it's previous or current title it has amazing architecture here including tons of univesities, museums, parks, churches, statues, etc. and all of the buildings are white-washed, which adds to its uniqueness as well. Even though it's not as fast-pace as Buenos Aires, there is still a lot of fun stuff to do around the city as well as outside it, and I plan on taking advantage of it's activies this weekend. The food here is great, as is the food in all of Bolivia. Saltenas, which are eaten during the mornings are a cross between beef or chicken empanadas and soup dumplings - probably one of the tastier things I've had in my life. Lunch is prepared back at the house by Miriam, the wife, and so far evey meal has been incredible. For example, today, Friday, we started out with soup (which is the norm in every restaurant or street vendor, one of the tastier items), followed by abeet and chili salad, potatoes, rice, and braised lamb - I won't even comment. I've been warned a few times to be careful in Bolivia with their food and water, but nonetheless, I won't let that stop me, so for dinner, I either eat at different vendors on the street trying local foods, or I've been heading to the main market more of Sucre's traditional meals. There is amazing tradition here and I can easily see why people I've talked to have loved Bolivia, especially considering how cheap it is. Hostels run about $5 dollars a night and meals range anywhere from $1 - $4 max - much less than Argentina. I hear Peru is pretty similar, maybe a bit more expensive but not much.
The family I'm staying with is very nice. It's a pretty huge place ( 5 stories with a terrace), but it needs to be big because of the amount of people that are currently living there. The parents have two sons and a daughter, and one of the sons lives in the house with his wife and three younger kids, which is pretty normal in Bolivia since jobs are hard to come by and moving out is too expensive, and two other people renting out rooms while they study in the university. However, it doesn't feel cramped at all since the only people I've interacted with or seen are the parents, one of the sons, and a few of the kids. So, it's been perfect so far, and only 5 minutes walking distance from the school.
Last night I went to a performance at a nearby town, where the group El Teatro de Los Andes gave their rendition of the Odyssey, except with a more modern twist, since Ulysses, in his quest to return home has to reach Ithica, NY, so issues such as immigration were portrayed, which was pretty cool. I was unaware before, but aparently this acting group is very famous and travels all around the world putting on plays. I was lucky to get the last available ticket for the final two days they were performing in the area. Obviously the whole thing was in Spanish, and there were a few longer dialogues that I didn't fully understand, but overall I was able to follow the action, and it was an incredible play - the acting, music, and stage sequences (I'm not even sure if that's an appropriate term, but I'm referring to all the unique and well thought out ways they portrayed different life events such as death, sex, fights, and lots more), and I think that was the sentiment of everyone else that attended the show as well. Here's there website if you wanna check them out, they may be putting pictures up of the play I saw, so you might be able to see what I'm referring to.
For the sake of keeping this post shorter than the one in BA, I´ll give a summary once again.
The family I stayed with was unbelievable. One of the sons was close to my age and actually in the med school here, so we were able to chat a lot, which was good for my spanish. And the mother´s cooking continued to impress, which was lucky as well. Since the last time I posted about 10 days or so have passed by. During the week, nothing too exciting occured, or at least interesting enough to write about. My days were pretty consistent with classes in the morning, lunch, nap, walking around the city, dinner, and either relaxing back at the house with the fam explaining the rules of football, baseball, and wrestling, or going out with kids from the school. This past weekend was pretty eventful. Friday a bunch of people met back at the school during the evening for a cooking lesson on traditional Bolivian food, and it also happened to be one a teacher´s birthday, so drinks were served as well. Went to a bunch of bars afterwards, good time. The next night went out with the son in med school and his cousin until early in the morning to a karaoke bar. An interesting experience, the people here really take their singing seriously. And I was pressured into singing a few songs in English, so my interpretation of Oasis, Wonderwall and 50 cent/The Game, How We Do. The second was definitely more difficult than expected, but nonetheless, my first karaoke experience singing on my own....
The following day we went to the family´s home in the campo, about an hour away from Sucre. It was a lot of fun, very relaxing. It´s where the campesinos live so all the houses have lots of property with vegetables, fruits, and animals present. My family only goes during the weekends, so they have different fruit plants, but thats the extent of it. Very beautiful, and an experience I´m sure only those that live here get to have, so that was really cool. I have a reservation booked for a flight leaving Wednesday for Cochabamba, but still trying to decide whether I should wait until then or leave a day earlier - not a big deal either way. Cochabamba is known for their wildlife national park which has a large range of animals present that are free to walk around as they wish, so I figured it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to be walking next to Pumas and have monkey climbing on me (if im lucky), I just have to watch out for personal belongings, cause I hear monkeys are worse than South Americans when it comes to theft.
What more...it´s Wednesday, and I´m about to head out to the airport for my next destination. These last few days have been a lot of fun. I started hanging out a bunch with Miguel´s cousins who were a little more extroverted, and they did a good job of showing me around the city. Monday we spent the night drinking Leche de Tigre, which is a drink normally consumed only during Carnival; however, Ronald´s mom had a bottle that had been ¨marinating¨ for about three years, so we decided to snatch it. The drink consists of Singani (very popular alcohol here), milk, cinnamon, and egg. I´m not sure exactly how the drink doesn´t spoil after three years, but it was pretty delicious, but very potent. Monday was also a holiday in Sucre to comemorate the deaths of three students last year during a pretty vicious confrontation between the police and citizens, regarding the constitution and wanting the title of Bolivia´s capitol to be returned to Sucre.
Yesterday nothing too special happened - ate a lot. Had chicharrones, which is pretty much fried fat or beef, and is very popular here. Apprently Ronald´s mom is famous for her version of the dish, so I had to try it. Of course hers was just fried fat, so I felt very healthy afterwards. A few hours later I ordered a small plate of Picante Lengua and Picante Cola to test out. The Cola, pig´s tail, was amazing. And that´s about all I got. Finished classes up today, had my last lunch back at the house, and now just killing time before I leave for the aiport.
I had an amazing time here. Unfortunately I have to leave and see other places, or else I could have easily stayed for longer. Although there is much more to do in Buenos Aires, Sucre is a lot more charming due to its culture and small size. It´s really relaxed and everyone knows each other here, so it definitely has that comfortable feel to it, compared to BA. If any of you all happen to stop by Sucre at some point in your lives, please give the Cuelo family a call. They live on Hernandez Siles street, and they are an amazing family that continuously take people in to their homes for various amounts of time. But yea, I´d say just traveling wise, Sucre is a destination only to spend a few days in, but for a city to pass an extensive period of time in, I highly recommend it.
That´s all I got. Talk to you all soon, and keep me updated!