Sunday, 11 November 2007

Potosí and Sucre (Central Bolivia)

We escaped the bus from hell and were the only two passengers to alight in Potosí at 4:45am. The scene that awaited us was far from refreshing or welcoming. About 100 homeless people lined the street by the bus terminal which was nothing more than a handful of ticket offices by the side of the road. To make matters worse¸ it was about 2 degrees celcius and everything was closed (so much for that bucket of beer ).

We discovered we had just missed our connection to Sucre and would have to wait 7 hours or try and get a shared taxi, which, after a little bargaining we did. (40 Bolivianos per head for the two and a half hour journey = approx $5.50 each X 4 people)

I had read the so called highlight of Potosí is a visit to the nearby mines, but it gets a bad rap due to safety issues e.g. unprotected baths of sulphuric acid and toxic fumes, so we decided to give it a miss. We had no regrets either, after the taxi driver gave us the low down on the high level of crime and stories about tourists getting into taxis, only to be brought to some remote area, stripped naked and robbed blind. We waited in the taxi as the driver ensured his heavy set wife, sprinted two blocks thru the no go zone to reach their home in safety.

After an interesting dawn drive, we arrived at Sucre at 7am. We were on a mission to find a bed asap as at this point we were beyond exhausted and we were lucky to find a hotel near the main square that would check us in early. I had a beer; then collapsed into bed in a near coma – sleep, sleep, sleep at last!

Sucre has a really comfortable small town feel to it although the suburbs spread far and wide. It’s very laid back and has several walking circuits of historical and cultural significance. There’s a dinosaur compound 5kms outside town which has the largest collection of dinosaur tracks in the world. They were only discovered about 15 years ago and because the earth has shifted over the years, they are now vertically exposed on a cliff face.

We weren’t too keen to jump on a 12 hour bus ride so soon so we stayed two nights in Sucre. Despite the best efforts of two travel agents NOT to sell us tickets (they have a nonchalant, I can’t be arsed, attitude), we managed to find a flight to our next destination Santa Cruz for 200 Bolivian (approx $27). It was a little strange thinking of flying as somewhat of a luxury but it was definitely more comfortable than most journeys over the last 4 weeks.


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