White City

Trip Start Jul 05, 2009
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81
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Trip End Jul 04, 2010


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Where I stayed
Consulado de Francia

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, April 28, 2010

After our first couple of weeks in Bolivia we were eager to settle down again and learn some Spanish. We had heard that Sucre was a quaint little city with a laid back vibe and temperate weather. We also heard that you could sign up for Spanish lessons at just 4.5 dollars an hour!
 
I think its worth mentioning our bus ride from La Paz to Sucre; Ian has yet to recover. We chose the cheapest bus at just 5 quid for an 11 hour journey and inevitably we were the only Westerners surrounded by everything Quechua. We were pleased with the price and also have enjoyed traveling local style; it certainly makes for a more interesting ride. Ian sitting in the aisle seat was beside a mum and dad with their two children. The eldest about 3 and the youngest barely 1. There was lots of crying, especially when a distinctive scent began to waft in the air. Convinced the child would be changed at the next toilet stop we were horrified when the couple did what was necessary 30 cm away from Ian. To complete the special journey Ian was shortly joined mid-aisle by an obese, body odoured and all things dirty, Quechua woman. What a stink!
 
When we arrived in Sucre we had arranged, by phone, a homestay with a charity run Spanish school, Fox. To cut a long story short we turned up at the house which was in fact a building site and thus filled with dust and grime. When we realised we were expected to share a single bed and pay more than a price of a hostel we decided we would vacate. Following this we only had more disappointment. We arramged three meetings with the school and were left waiting each time like lemons. We were through with Fox, although disappointed things had not gone to plan because they were meant to arrange local volunteer work for us. Ian wisely pointed out they had had three strikes.
 
Despite all this messing around something good did come of the many hours we spent waiting outside Fox offices; we met our new buddies Chris and Ange. There were initial communication problems, what with them being from South of the river, but we all soon adapted ;) We are forever indebted to them for recommending a place to stay instead of the homestay. They had randomly found out that the French Consulate let out apartments which worked out cheaper than staying in a hostel if you committed to more than two weeks. Chris and Ange gave up waiting for Fox before us, but we soon bumped into them again once we had checked out the Consulate and signed on the dotted line, not believing our luck!
 
The next month saw the four of us sharing two excellent dinner parties, Chinese takeaways whilst watching DVDs from the Consulate's private collection, and a lot of shared hangovers. We can safely say that Chris and Ange are to blame for any drunken antics. They lead us truly astray. Tut tut.

We quickly found another Spanish school which conveniently was a three minute walk down the road. This was great given that we had 8.15am starts. We chose to go for 4 hours of group lessons each morning and were really quite impressed with the set-up. The school had a well-structured curriculum and so the lessons were always focused and varied. Each day in the last half an hour of the lesson we watched part of a Spanish film which was really helpful but tricky when you were asked to explain what had just happened! I also went on a couple of 'cultural excursions' with my teachers which ranged from having a guided tour of the Sucre museum, to eating Salteņas and visiting the Campesino market, a micro ride out of town. The school also put on evening activities one of which we were particularly fond of, Wallyball which is basically a mix of squash, football and volley ball.

My Birthday

I had the pleasure of celebrating my 24th birthday whilst in Sucre, and despite a morning of Spanish classes, had a really enjoyable day. Finola woke me to the best breakfast I've had in a long time, with excellent bacon, the likes of which Finola and I had not enjoyed for quite some time. There was also a generous selection of presents (far too generous), and the pick of the bunch was the Official World Cup 2010 sticker book, and a few packs of stickers to get me started!

That night, after a Walleyball session, Chris and Ange gave me more stickers and produced a most excellent birthday cake, as well as balloons and decorations befitting the most auspicious of occasions. We four then headed out to dine at La Taverna, a restaurant that Finola had heard excellent things about, their steak in particular, and we consumed the best meal we'd had in quite some time.

The evening continued at a couple of bars, where we drank far too much and so can barely remember large portions of the evening... but we had a damn good time, and suffered terrible hangovers as a result, Finola citing her's as the very worst of her entire life. Happy birthday to me!

Throughout our final weeks residence in Sucre, I made several trips to the sticker stalls near the central market, where I discovered a vibrant sticker swapping scene, and had ample opportunity to hacer inter-cambios with the kids of Sucre. This was excellent fun, and a great way to practice my numbers when telling Bolivians which ones I still needed. This sticker swapping also saw me make good friends with the 10-year old son of the Consulate, and we had many a swapsie and discussion about the World Cup, all great for putting our Spanish into practice and learning essential football vocabulary for the fast-approaching Mundial!

At the end of our four weeks we deliberated long and hard about what we wanted to do... feeling quite settled, and tired of moving around, we were close to commiting to more lessons in favour of checking out Santa Cruz, but we eventually made the decision to leave, and to spend our last five weeks seeing and doing, with the option of returing and resting always possible if we got fed up. And so, we left Sucre, a town that we will be revisiting in years to come, sin duda!
 
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Comments

shiovaun on

sounds like you had a fantastic time here. loving the blogs.xx

margerybw on

What fabulous phots! We love you lots and are so glad that you are having a fantastic time and have created such amazing blogs of your travels. They will be with you forever. Really looking forward though to having you home............
Mama and Jim xx

Wee-wee and Funky on

Hahahahaha...love it! The pictures are great...obviously because we are in them...love the blog, however, not sure you have got it all correct. I am sure we have discussed this and we all agreed, south of the river is the better half!!

Hope all is well with you guys...see you soon for a beer in London...south side obviously.

Wee-wee and Funky x x x

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