South America, Travelling

Sucre, Bolivia – the adventure begins!

If you read my post Beginning as a Backpacker you will see that we had a bad start to my South American adventure.

Our new flight to Santa Cruz de la Sierra was supposed to departure at 4am, but this trip was a hard one from the start, and our flight was delayed 2 hours. Back in Brazil we have this saying ”I’m Brazilian and I’ll never give up”, and I think it fits perfectly well to this situation. We were tired, having experienced so much hassle already in the beginning. But, this trip had to happen; no matter what, I wasn’t going to give up!

When we finally boarded the plane, it didn’t take long for me to hit the hay, only waking up when we landed.

The heat in Santa Cruz was like we were getting into a Sauna, so hot to live! I have to say this hassle with the flight was good for one reason (I had to try to find something positive, guys!): we could buy another leg and fly to our next destination. We were going to make it to Sucre by bus, but as some people advised me, this journey by bus is very long and dangerous, the road is not really safe, flying is the best option, and it was!

As soon as we got to Santa Cruz, we had to go through a quick immigration process, pay an airport fee, check in again and then make it to the gate to our next flight. As our flight from São Paulo was delayed, we nearly missed that second flight (Jaysus, come on!) The flight departure was 10 minutes after we got into the airplane followed by a short flight, only 30 minutes!

View from the window going to Sucre
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Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia – the country has two capitals, mind you, La Paz is the other one. The town is small and its altitude is circa 2.500m. It’s very nice there, with a rich history to share!

It was a good start in Bolivia; good to rest from the journey and also an opportunity to acclimatize. Bolivia’s altitude is very high, so it is good to start slow and plan a itinerary so you acclimatize little by little rather than going straight to a very high city.

We stayed in a very nice hostel called Hostal San Francisco, the place is a bit ”expensive” for the Bolivian standards, you can find cheaper ones, but I think it was worth it. It was also very close to the central square; Plaza 25 de Mayo.

The hostel
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I was very tired and slept another hour. The time zone is not that big from Brazil, but was enough to make me feel a bit disoriented. Because of that, I missed the tour to go to Cal Orko, a place where you can see the footprints of Dinosaurs. Oh, well, next time maybe.

We had lunch at Plaza 25 de mayo, and I also had my first taste of Coca tea (Mate de Coca). It is a tea made with the leaves of Coca, and helps you to relax while also acclimatize. Don’t worry, Coca tea is legal in South America, as is Coca leaf. It is used by the natives, and you can also try it, as it helps make your life easier in these high levels of altitude around the country. It is only legal in certain places,  so you can not bring Coca leaf with you on the plane. They check everybody at the airport to make sure people are not bringing Coca Leaf. Other products, such as the tea, are OK to bring if you want to.

I also tasted the local beer
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Mate de coca – in some places they give it to you for free
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The first place we visited in Sucre was Casa de la Libertad (House of Liberty), which is located at Plaza 25 de Mayo. It’s a great museum where you can see and learn a bit of Bolivian History. A good way to immerse ourselves in the country we were about to explore, right? There you can find picture of the presidents, relics, documents and a variety of things regarding Bolivia’s Independence.

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One thing that really caught my attention in Sucre was the amount of buses with Japanese letters. I got very confused when I saw it, I thought it might be from a Japanese colony around the area. But, then I noticed all the buses in the city were like that. Later on, a taxi driver told us when Japan doesn’t use these vehicles anymore, they export many to Bolivia. These buses cross the ocean and arrive in Chile and are then brought there. And, when they get to Boliva, they stay exactly in the way Japan sent, so it is normal to see those Japanese advertisements on the bus. Funny, right?

Bolivia doesn’t have car factories, so vehicles are imported from elsewhere.
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At night we headed to a pub called Joy Ride to check what a Bolivian night in Sucre looked like.

Next day we got our first Coca leaves to bring to our next destination: Potosí. We were definitely going to need it there, as Potosí is a very high town.

And so ended the first day in Bolivia, a lot more to come!
Saludos, hasta la próxima! 

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