Saturday, 5 April 2014

A Tale of Two Citys

Once we arrived in Uyuni following our salt flats trip The Photographer and I decided to get out of there pretty sharpish. The town appeared to be very touristy but quite bleak, lacking the charm of San Pedro (it's Chilean equivalent). As I said in my previous post we rushed our goodbyes and just about made it on to a bus to Potosi.

Potosi, with the famous Cerro Rico in the background 

Potosi is a famous mining city, once the richest in all of South America due to its abundance of silver, it is now a faded old colonial gem with its wealth a distant memory and it's beauty hidden behind layers of dirt. We arrived at dusk as the city was coming to life with parades on the street and people everywhere. We ran in to Hetty who was in one of the other cars on our Uyuni trip and followed her to hostel La Casona. The hostel was ok warm beds and nice outdoor spaces (though it was a little cold to use them), however the showers were interesting... After a quick dinner for 3 we all had an early night after a very long day! 

Two women walk to church in Potosi

As I have said Potosi is famous for mining and on the backpacker trail most people come to visit famous Cerro Rico and it's mines which are still active. The mines are known for there horrific working conditions, the short life span of the miners and their underground offerings to the devil. After a lot of deliberation we decided to give the mines miss.. Apart from the danger (I probably should have avoided the recent articles about the probable collapse of the mountain in the future), I couldn't see the joy in dressing up as a miner and taking photos with those who actually have to work in such harsh conditions. Also the stories of child workers, drunken miners and tourists revelling in the use of dynamite didn't appeal to me. I am sure for some people the mines can be a life changing experience but I am happy with our decision to give it a miss. 

The Phtographer and I at the bell tower

Instead we decided to spend our day in Potosi wandering around the town and planning what to do next. We went on a little tour of the cathedral which is currently undergoing renovation. The tour guide was amazing, super friendly (giving high fives for correct answers) and very passionate about the church and it's restoration. The views of the town from the bell tower were beautiful! We also visited the old mint which had been turned into a museum. We had to be part of a tour to view the museum, which while interesting was perhaps a little long, and given by the grumpiest woman I have ever met!! That evening while we were sat in our hostel we had the excitement of a huge parade passing by! Apparently this was a remembrance of the war against Chile and the loss of Bolvias coastline. The parade went on forever with the whole town seemingly involved, it was nice to get to see. 

Potosi Cathedral

The next morning The Photographer and I were again joined by Hetty to attempt a journey to Sucre. As the 'tourist bus' was full we had to head down to the old bus station and find a little mini bus to take us. This was easy enough, the main problem was finding another 3 people to fill the bus, but after an hour of waiting we were on the road! The journey was beautiful travelling through some amazing countryside with lots of winding mountain roads. 

Testing out the street food in Sucre

On our arrival in Sucre the contrast with Potosi was immediately apprent, the sun was shining, the weather warmer and our  breathing more easy (due to the 2000m drop in altitude). The city had the same colonial architecture, but in much better condition and all painted a bight white. We had heard that this was a good place to study spanish and I could understand why... Sucre has the cheaper Bolivian prices, the city feels safe and friendly and it was definitely beautiful!!

I taking photos of doors, I found this one in Sucre

Mirador overlooking Sucre

We were staying in the wonderful Forastero Guesthouse which felt very homely (they have a hostel coming soon which I imagine would be awesome) and was great place to chill out; which is basically what we did!! Apart from a walk to a nice mirador in the Recoleta area and exploring the markets we mostly just drank coffee and enjoyed the warm weather and great atmosphere of the city. 

Main square in Sucre, zebras come out in the afternoon to help pedestrians cross the roads

After two days in Sucre it was time for us to move on and we boarded what would turn out to be our most hair raising night bus yet as we headed to la Paz! 

Mercardo central, Sucre


Location: Potosi and Sucre

Highlights: Cathedral tour in Potosi, parades and relaxing in Sucre.

Food finds: Salteneas, the Bolivian version of an empenada. These were super tasty with a bit more spice than empenadas in Chile and Argentina. I also tried this amazing street food (picture above) which was basically like fried yorkshire pudding batter covered in a sugar syrup!!!

Minutes spent lost: about 30 at the bus station in Potosi, were were not prepared fro our arrival from Uyuni!!!

Epiphanys: 0

Sucre, View from the rooftop of the Prefectura de Chquisaca bulding in the main square ( a government bulding free to go up you just have to ask)

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