(Day 29 - 33)
20.12.2009 - 24.12.2009 26 °C
The 2 days following our unbelievable journey back were spent in La Paz.
The first was to move heaven and earth to get a refund for the disastrous trip; which sadly will never happen. It turns out that Javier was doing his own little business under the reputable cover of the company we thought we were booking with. He gave the money to Luis, who gave the money to Jorge and Tico the owner is very angry but the money can’t be found. (We even had a receipt!). Sadly this one had to be written off as a bad debt! We did get our money back for the cancelled flight though so that was something.
On the 21st we took our first night bus to Sucre. The bus has seats that recline fully into a bed like it would on a business class flight, except their “leather” was much more worn out. To cover the12 hours ahead, we pulled out the laptop and watched our trusty Mr Jack Bauer before going to sleep. This wasn’t cheap but the distance had to be covered and the fact that it was a night bus meant it also counted as a night’s accommodation.
We arrived in Sucre at 6h30, and made our way to our first youth “hostel” so far. Not great.. The kind where you need to wear flip flops to shower (shared bathroom) and hope that the shower curtain won’t touch you!! Then again it was so cheap and with expensive Chile coming up (in comparison to Cuba and Bolivia), we had to start tightening that belt. It was fine in the end, Martin loved the top bunk bed
Sucre itself is quite a big town. The centre of the town itself is charming and bustling with activity, but its outskirts very basic and functional, so we spent most of our time in the centre. Sucre is declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and is said to have some of the best Spanish colonial architecture in South America. Neon signs are banned and a municipal regulation requires all buildings to be whitewashed once a year.
The people here seem to be more sophisticated than in La Paz, in what they wear, how they act, their shops are proper ones (not markets on the street) etc. It was the first of the Christmas vibe experienced so far. The shops were open until late and the locals were out in full force for their last minute shopping.
The one thing that was quite shocking in contrast to the noticed sophistication of the higher class crowd was the amount beggars, mainly street children who are just everywhere; they beg you for money and it just makes your heart break every time as they are no more than 4 to 6,7 years old. So sad. They are also the most beautiful looking children I have ever seen, absolutely gorgeous, every single one of them.
Martin and I browsed and enjoyed the town for 2 days, visited a very interesting Museum of Indigenous Art which mainly focuses on the art of weaving in the Bolivian cultures & its various tribes through their history.
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve already and we spend the day in another bus to take us to Uyuni, 9hrs away. This is where on Christmas day we start our tour of the Salt Pans, the Salar de Uyuni.