We left Potosí for Sucre later that day, to be greeted with a much warmer climate and a more comfortable altitude at a relatively low 2,810m above sea level. This city felt friendly and welcoming compared to some of the decidedly inhospitable places we’d recently visited. The hotel was lovely, I could walk around in shorts and I even started to feel hungry again!
I took my time exploring the city’s enormous cemetery, which sounds a little morbid, but this place was more like a botanical garden than a graveyard. Perfect for a place of rest actually.
I wandered along the back streets, browsed shops, sipped on fresh juice from the market and ate in an excellent vegetarian restaurant (Bolivia doesn’t generally cater well for vegetarians). I got way too excited at how good the WiFi was in the local Irish Bar! I walked up town to watch the sun set in the most beautiful part of the city whilst chatting with fellow travellers and drinking cocktails. I finally felt at home again 🙂
The evenings were spent eating good (well, above average) food, drinking and partying, whilst the days were filled with adventure activities, of which I chose paragliding. Two of the Aussie guys, a young German girl and I were driven to the top of a big hill and left there for a good hour at least with a pile of equipment. We took the opportunity to nap, awoken only by a herd of cows passing through.
We never knew where the guide and driver disappeared to, but they came back eventually. One by one we were invited to be strapped up to the instructor and run off the side of the hill, hanging from a parachute and trying to ride the thermals down the valley. It was a wonderful sensation flying through the air, and as always, the views were stunning. At the bottom we were collected by the 4×4 and driven back to the top, which was as much of a thrill as the way down!
Our Bolivian tour guide Henry took us to an authentic local restaurant that serves only steak, corn and potatoes. I made sure I ate beforehand as I went along for the experience rather than the food. Each steak was approximately the size of my head, piled on top of boiled potatoes and giant sweetcorn, at a price of about £4.
When the time came to leave Sucre, the weather turned nasty, our flight to Santa Cruz was cancelled and we were forced to take an overnight bus there instead. When we first met Henry, he warned us that Bolivia time is a little different from the rest of the world. If you order food in a restaurant you can expect to wait up to two hours and if you’re lucky you might actually get what you ordered. So on that basis, our “12 hour” bus journey, soon turned into 14, and that was before we hit the landslide.
The bad weather had caused half a cliff to collapse across the road, not the main road, the ONLY road to where we were headed. The only option was to wait it out. Luckily the rain had stopped, so we could get off the bus and walk around. Not that there was anywhere to go, we were in the middle of nowhere along with hundreds of other trucks, buses and the occasional car.
There was no toilet on the bus, so we had to work as a team and be creative with some blankets at the side of the road. We had very little in the way of food between us, we were supposed to arrive in time for breakfast, so no one had brought anything with them. I think this was my first ever experience of being hangry!
We played every conceivable card game to pass the time, walked up and down the road watching the progress the diggers were making on shifting the enormous boulders and managed to find someone to sell us a bag of oranges.
After six hours of waiting we were able to get moving again! Not a bad result considering the amount of earth they had to shift out of our way. We were still an hour from Santa Cruz where we just had time to shower, order a pizza and say goodbye to Henry before jumping on another bus with our new guide Alex to head for Brazil!