Traveling to Sucre, Bolivia
Happy June and beginning of summer– for the Northern Hemisphere that is :) Down here it’s winter time which is quite disorienting since Bolivia is the first country I’ve visited below the equator… However, the fact that it’s my birth-month helps reorient me (very humble, I know:). And this year I’ll be getting the best gift ever as my parents will be flying down to visit for about 2 weeks! I am so inexplicably excited to have some of my family see and experience what I do every day here, and the countdown is getting so close!
I’m sure there will be a whole blog post about that, but for now what I want to write about most are the two wonderful days at the end of May that I spent exploring Sucre, Bolivia. And at the end, I’ll give a general hogar-update.
Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia (the administrative capital being La Paz), and us volunteers have wanted to visit it ever since we heard about this beloved “White City”. I’ll cut to the chase and let y'all know that I fell in love with this sleepy town and can’t begin to explain how well it treated us. When we had the opportunity to visit Santa Cruz back in January, we strangely felt like we were in a city in the U.S., and were a bit confused at how little it felt like Bolivia. Sucre, however, was the most lovely and curious combination of European and Bolivian cultures. This is a city that has the elegance and tranquility of a quaint Spanish town while at the same time preserving its unique Bolivian scent in the air. Is it obvious yet that I was enamored?
The weekend trip began with more humble beginnings, namely freezing our butts off on the 9-hour overnight bus from Cochabamba to Sucre. For anyone who may find themselves in Bolivia during the winter season getting ready to take an overnight bus… I would recommend bringing a blanket…
We arrived in the city bright and early (more like dark and early) at 4:30am. After taking a taxi into the city center and finding that absolutely everything was closed (even our hotel), we managed to call and score early check-in to get a couple hours more of rest before starting a very fun day.
I get this lovely trait from my dad– but once I’m awake, I’m awake. So while my two very lucky friends got a few more hours of sleep, I watched a movie in bed and headed out on my own once light was shining through the windows. While Grace and Hannah are two wonderful travel partners, there’s nothing quite like exploring a new city on your own. I tried some street food for breakfast, walked around the plazas, and people-watched for the morning and met up with Grace and Hannah for coffee later in a nestled-away cafe with a view of the whole city. After getting some caffeine in us, we headed out to Parque Cretácico, which is a park where you can explore this massive wall bearing thousands of footprints from various dinosaur species from the Cretaceous period. Please don’t hate on me but I am not a big history buff. However, this place was so very cool. We had a lovely afternoon walking around with our hard hats and learning about the dinosaurs that once lived in this region.
With some restored energy (provided by affogatos) we went on a tour of the city’s cathedral, Catedral Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Being a Catholic gal who loves traveling, I’ve gone on many a tour of many a beautiful church… and although it’s no Sagrada Familia, we had a great time admiring the art and learning about the history of the Church in Sucre.
After that we were pretty ready to head back to the hotel and relax for a bit before a show we were going to see later that evening. We got some food and took it back to enjoy on the terrace of our hotel while we read and looked out over the beautiful city.
Once the sun went down we headed to Espacio Cultural Origenes where we ate some yummy food and watched a beautiful 2 hour show of traditional Bolivian dances. We had such a fun night, and slept very well that night.
On day 2, we ate some breakfast under the sun, did some shopping at local vendors, and went to a 12pm mass at Iglesia Santo Domingo. After mass we headed to do one more sightseeing venture at “La Glorieta”. La Glorieta is Bolivia’s only castle where Bolivia’s royalty lived in the 1800s. It was definitely an interesting place with a peculiar history… Bolivia currently has a presidency but had a recognized monarchy for less than 10 years, and this is where they lived! The castle was later bought by the military, all of the furniture was taken out, holes were put in all the walls in search of hidden treasure, and it unfortunately has not been preserved well over the years. Also… it’s pink! Although not the most popular Bolivian tourist attraction, it was a super interesting place to visit and learn about.
Later we had a late lunch at a cafe in the main plaza and explored the central market. No trip is considered good (in my books) if you don’t get ice cream, so we enjoyed ice cream in the plaza while watching an impromptu parade! It’s very important to add that my ice cream was arroz-con-leche flavored, which is such a tasty food here, and even better in ice cream form…
As the evening rolled around, it was time to head to the airport and we got back to our home in Cochabamba around 9:30pm. Overall, it was the most perfect weekend with a good balance of adventure and relaxation and since we don’t get out of Cochabamba very often, I can’t explain how grateful I was for this quick weekend trip. We were definitely spoiled, which is good for a short period of time, but life isn’t meant to be a constant vacation, so it was also good to get back to work with our girls on Monday :)
Now for a general hogar-update:
The last month and a half at the hogar have been interesting, as it always is! We celebrated three holidays: Family Day, Mother’s Day, and a religious holiday that celebrates a Marian devotion (Fiesta de María Auxiliadora). There are constant holidays here, and they’re always celebrated all-out. I have to say, it keeps life very exciting and the constant preparation for the next holiday always keeps me on my toes. On Day of the Family, all of the sisters from the community came to organize games for the girls and we had a very fun day of playing outside, winning little prizes, and eating lots of good food. On Mother’s Day, we (aka volunteer Hannah) taught the girls a dance to perform for the sisters as a gift, and I even celebrated my first Mother’s Day, being recognized as a spiritual mother :) It was special for sure! Lastly, La Fiesta de María Auxiliadora was definitely all of our favorite party of the month (given that there were 7!). We decorated the hogar, attended a special mass in the next-door town, got take-out for all the girls, had a cake, and just had a huge ball. We all went to bed quite happy that night.
I absolutely can’t forget that May 1st was my future god-daughter’s birthday! This lovely (and mischievous) girl asked me to be her sponsor for her upcoming confirmation in October, and here in Latin America that makes me her godmother– which is a true honor. To celebrate this special day, we spent the whole day in the city going shopping at the market, getting ice cream, going to the movies, and eating dinner out! We had a fantastic day and definitely made some happy memories. It makes me really happy to know that I will always have a connection here to Bolivia through her, and I can’t wait to continue growing in relationship with her over the years, even if it be from a distance.
Well, this was a long (and overdue) post, so if you made it to the end, congrats! I hope y’all are having a fantastic weekend and that you’re enjoying some warm weather. Enjoy it for me, plz.