Wednesday, 22 July 2015
Sucre - Part 2
As we had decided to leave Sucre on Sunday, we left today open as an admin day. So that meant doing washing, trying to book our flights to Colombia (the budget airline Viva Colombia had been proving impossible to book online so we were going to a travel agent to try and help us book the flight) and uploading photos to the cloud and updating the blog (a constant item on the 'to do list'). Unfortunately, even after going to the Spanish speaking travel agents, we still could not book our flights online. We were just going to have to wait to get to Colombia to book them or find an agent somewhere for this small airline. Even though the morning proved to be unproductive and frustrating, we were still keen for our last Spanish lesson with Isaac. We learnt all about irregular verbs and the 'may/can I' verbs. At the end of the lesson Isaac helped us translate and pronounce a few phrases that we thought would serve us well over the next couple of months eg. ´Does the hostel have proper hot water?´, ´That price is too expensive!´, ´Can you tell us when to get off the bus?´ and ´Is breakfast included in the price?´ All these phrases are essential in any backpackers vocabulary. After the lesson we bid farewell to our beloved teacher and headed with Markus into the city centre. We had been told that, as the Universities had closed the day before, the students were putting on a huge annual parade. The parade was characterised by each faculties dressing up in traditional outfits and dancing in the streets to the accompanying band. We didn't realise how massive this festival would be but when we arrived, we saw that whole families had come out in their droves to to witness the entertainment. There were food stalls on every corner and fireworks that exploded into the air every few minutes.
Joy, Rox and Markus entering the festival
Cute little children blowing and playing with bubbles
Each procession was lead by the faculty banner, comprised of coordinated dancers in the centre and followed by the marching band.
Massive trombones being trumpeted
Of course flags and all sorts of banners littered the parade
Faculty dressed up as miners. We guessed that this might be the engineering faculty.
Beautifully illuminated buildings
This group of students were dressed up as the ferocious Tio (devil spirit of the mines)
We stayed at the parade for almost three hours before it eventually ended at around 8pm. They had started just after lunch and were obviously exhausted after many hours of performing, especially the poor miners who had to carry large hammers as part of the performance. Some of them even plonked down onto the floor during the show to rest while the band caught up but they were quickly shooed up again by the stern and unsympathetic traffic officials. Even though the parade was winding down, it seemed as though the party was just beginning. There was an elaborate fireworks display that we were sure would carry on into the night. We still had some admin to do so we headed to the internet cafe. We were supposed to meet up with Markus later and go out to paint the night red on this vibey Saturday night but when we got home we found that Markus was fast asleep - he was still trying to fight a nasty cold. He had asked us to wake him but he looked so peaceful in his slumber that we didn't have the heart to disturb him. Instead we decided to join him in dream land.
We received an early morning wake up call by the fury cat of the hostel. It wouldn't take no for an answer and demanded love and attention. Not ideal for Rox's cat allergies, of which she had been suffering with the entire week. But even she couldn't resist/escape this cute little cat.
Wakey wakey sleepy head
Rox trying desperately to love it without actually touching it.
We had heard that Sunday meant two things in Sucre - church and market day. The centre cathedral in the square was not open to the public during the week, so we thought we could go get a sneak peak of the inside before the church service started. On the way down to the church we stumbled upon a military demonstration.
All the troupes lined up
Not too sure if checking out your phone or petting the street dogs is in the military handbook...?
Standing at attention
To be fair to the sergeant, the dog was pretty insistent on getting love and even sat on Rox when she resisted. There must have been something in the air that all the animals were drawn to her that morning.
Even quite a large section of the battalion were women with their hair neatly tied up in army-like buns.
Traditional dancers putting on a show
There was a lady that seemed to be the minister of social development that gave a speech. As always though it was in Spanish and we had no real idea why all these people were assembled and what occasion they were marking.
Military marching band
After listening to enough of the speeches, we headed off through the park on our way to the Church.
Statue of Sucre, covered by a dozen pigeons
Eventually, after having been sufficiently distracted from our cause, we reached the Cathedral.
The church was beautifully decorated and preserved. We hurriedly, and of course quietly, snuck in a few pics while the congregation started to assemble.
The organist getting his music sorted
After we had taken enough pictures of this stunning building, we exited out the front of the church.
Joy at the front of the church
We exited at about 8.40 am - just enough time before the service was to start at 9.00am. We had wanted to sit in on the service but we weren't too sure how the very closed off Bolivians would accept foreigners, who weren't confirmed Catholics, into the congregation.
Outside the front gates of the church we found this tent. We think it was a person voluntarily living on the streets to create public awareness of the hardships that homeless people face.
After the church we stopped to admire the beautifully manicured gardens of the central Park. Earlier that week, we had actually seen a groundsman take out a measuring tape before he trimmed the hedge perfectly to scale. Not something you would see in Africa.
Perfectly manicured gardens
After admiring enough of the gardens we went to find the bus to the famous Tarabuco Sunday Market. It was first a 15 minute drive on the number 3 bus and then a two hour drive in a minibus. The tourist bus, which herded all the tourists together and took them on a comfy direct bus to the market cost B$40 but the local way that we chose only cost B$23 in total. It may not have been as luxurious but it was definitely cheaper!
On the drive there...
Looks like what we are used to in Africa - our German friend, Markus, thought this was an incredible sight.
The landscape really reminded us of home.
Clearly, the market is a popular place for both locals and tourists alike as the buses lined the streets to take people to and from the market.
Shoes made out of old tires - how inspired
One could find almost anything in the market...
From all sorts of scary looking traditional dishes...
To hardware (a mini Mica store)...
To cleaning materials (even the Bolivian version of sunlight soap)...
To salt licks...
To ice cream...
To fruit and veg...
To pretty much anything else under the sun...
After we had had a look around we headed to the 'food court' for lunch.
In Bolivia, no traditional lady will allow you to take a photograph of her. We heard it may be a superstition about your soul being captured by the camera. If you try taking a scenery picture with Bolivian ladies in it, they are very skilled at making sure that their backs are towards you. They almost have an uncanny innate ability to avoid pictures. It is for this reason that Rox refers to them as the faceless race. However, we were determined to at least capture some pictures of these shy, traditional ladies and while waiting in the market for our food to arrive, we seized the opportunity.
Almost all Bolivian ladies look the same in their outfits. They all sport the classic undersized bold hat, the knee high puffy skirt, leather sandals, hand knitted jersey, pigtail platted hair and are usually carry the brightly coloured blanket bag.
Another sneaky pic
For lunch we shared a bowl of sopa de mani (peanut soup) and a chicken pasta salad. The soup is supposed have no meat and thank goodness we are not vegetarians because we found a chicken toe in it. Guess it's supposed to add more flavour.
Another photo of a lady's back. They really are skilled!
Joy sampling some black treacle sugar.
Different types of potatoes. Apparently there are hundreds of types of potatoes in this country.
Bag of coca leaves. They say that chewing coca leaves takes away hunger and cold and gives one energy. Definitely essential to survive Bolivian winters.
Rox with one of her first loves - pasta (and so many types of it)
Mini skirts - obviously to show off the Bolivian lady's most prized possessions - her hips and her calves.
Chocolate ice cream
It was hard to say what the traditional Bolivian men wore as a custom, but at this market the blanket poncho seemed to be in fashion.
Joy posing as a decoy so that Rox could photograph the ladies but they were onto our scheme and all faced away just as she took the shot.
Markus also being used as a decoy - we even managed to capture a smile on this lady's face:)
The straw hat is also a popular choice, especially on a sunny day
From what we can make out, this market was declared a Unesco World Heritage sight.
But one face - the ratios are improving
And more backs...
Very unique traditional hats - must be from specific local tribes in the area.
We had passed the traditional food ladies on our way into the market but did not have the courage to sample any of their delights. However, on our way out, Markus had gained the strength and wanted to try one of the grub looking options. Instead of just getting one as he desired, he was handed the entire dish. Oh my, how was he going to stomach them all in order to not insult the wrinkly traditional lady? We all stood breathless, cameras pointing on his face as he took his first bite. We were expecting gooey entrails to come spewing out as his teeth cut through the flesh but, to our disappointment it turned out to be just an oddly shaped sweet potato! How hilarious! Once this was discovered, we all had to have a taste.
Markus bracing for his first bite.
Joy getting involved. A little sandy, obviously fresh from the ground and into the pot.
Joy once again getting used as a pawn in Rox's sneaky photo shoot.
The grub potatoes. No wonder we thought they were once alive!
After a busy day at the market, everyone left with there goods. Our purchases included, a notebook, some jewellery made from silver from the Potosi mine and a very cheap watch, which is apparently "waterproof" and probably indestructible or so the salesman guaranteed (we had left our watches at home for safe keeping but after the airport incident, we had been looking out for something to keep us on time)
We had had our fill of the market mayhem and decided to find a minibus back to Sucre.
These hair bobbles are worn by all the traditional ladies. They are braided into the hair and make their hair seem longer. Unlike the rest of the traditional garb, we have noticed that the style of this additional accessory changes from city to city.
More sneaky bus shots.
Once we arrived back into Sucre, we quickly picked up our bags from the hostel, said a very sad farewell to Markus and caught the A bus up to the bus station. Luckily we left a little ahead of schedule as the Sunday night traffic really slowed us down. It was then onto our 20:30 bus for the 8hr trip to Uyuni. We had treasured our time in the White city and were sad to say good bye.