Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 1: Bienvenidos a Bolivia!!

After five flights and 24 hours of travel, I finally landed in Sucre, Bolivia.  I flew from Pittsburgh to Chicago to Miami to La Paz to Santa Cruz to Sucre.  Going through customs in Santa Cruz was much easier this year than last year.  I don’t know if it is because my Spanish has very slightly improved or because I wasn’t hauling around a suspicious looking piece of scientific equipment.  I was able to get myself a visa, go through customs (getting the red light AGAIN! this year), and get another plane ticket before leaving for Sucre.  Relatively uneventful compared to last year.

Once Nick picked me up from the airport, I settled in at Hostal de su Merced.  Let me tell you, this place is unbelievably gorgeous.  The main areas are open patios, with beautiful flowers everywhere, and there’s a very high terrace that overlooks the city.  I have three huge windows in my room that look out over the city, and the view is just incredible.  The room itself is quite enjoyable, with dark wood furniture, high ceilings, a TV, and even a mini bar.  The painting of two naked little boys on the wall kind of freaks me out, but, it’s a small price to pay for such a beautiful room.

After I dropped off my things, Nick, Susan, and I went to Café Joyride for lunch.  It used to be owned by a German guy, then was bought by an Italian guy, but the food is pretty general.  In true South American tradition, I had a sandwich for lunch.  After lunch, Nick showed me around Sucre for about an hour.  The history in this town is just amazing.  The buildings are hundreds of years old, and there are a lot of historic sites I would love to learn more about (and will, in the next day or so).

Nick went to the Archives this afternoon, and Susan had to work, so I came back to my room, and settled in.  By settling in, I mean that I opened up the huge windows to let in fresh air and immediately fell asleep in the sunshine.  I was exhausted from the travel, and very much needed to sprawl out.  When I woke up, I went out to the terrace and took some pictures before happy hour.

The place we went to for happy hour was high up on a hill here in Sucre.  The view was amazing.  You could see the entire city from the patio.  We sat on the patio until dusk, watching the lights turn on in the city, then ventured to dinner.  We went to a little French restaurant that was pretty good.  It was a warm, cozy atmosphere inside, with wine bottles on display all over the place.  The food was pretty good too, and it wasn’t a sandwich, which is always a plus.

After dinner, we went and picked up a Mocha Cake that Susan had ordered from a little German restaurant.  We came back to the hotel and shared the cake with the kitchen staff.  Oh my gravy.  What a delicious slice of heaven!  I’m not usually a sweets person at all, and typically pass on dessert for another glass of wine, but this cake was so good I could have eaten half of it before going into a sugar coma.

Just like last year when I arrived in Huancavelica, there’s some kind of band playing music outside of the hotel.  It’s loud, and sometimes it’s in English and sometimes it’s in Spanish.  Must be a welcoming gift just for me…ha!

Edit: One thing I forgot to mention yesterday was the amazing view from the airplane as I flew from La Paz to Santa Cruz.  I watched for about 25 minutes as the hills of the Antiplano rolled by.  Within minutes, you could clearly see where the Altiplano dropped off into the jungle.  Clouds were covering the jungle, but the change in landscape was very clear.  See the pictures on Facebook from the airplane!

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