Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 2: Sucre es una ciudad hermosa.

This morning I woke up to the beautiful sunshine peeking around the draperies of my three huge windows.  I climbed out of bed and immediately opened the curtains to soak in the view of Sucre.  I walked up the terrace, deeply inhaled the fresh Sucre air, and I was surprised how quiet it was compared to yesterday, but I guess it was still early.

I joined Nick and Susan for breakfast at the Hostal a little after 8.  The variety of food was shocking, compared to Huancavelica last year.  There were lots of pastries, including pound cake, an apple cake, and some meringue pie, as well as fresh fruit and an assortment of breads, and of course, meat and cheese.  There were also freshly made crepes with a bunch of different fillings that looked really good, but I was still too tired to assemble anything before my first cup of coffee.  And once again, I’m wishing I had a juicer.  The fresh orange and papaya juices were delicious, as always.  I actually only had one cup of coffee because I preferred the juice over the coffee.  For those of you who know me, you probably don’t believe me, considering I drink a pot of coffee per day (usually before 8 am!) when I’m at home.

After breakfast, Susan had to work and Nick went to the Archives.  I was not yet fully comfortable with venturing out into Sucre on my own.  This is for many reasons: a. my Spanish isn’t great, b. I do not want to be hit by a car (the drivers and pedestrians here are all in a rush all the time), and, most importantly, c. I did not want to get lost.  Although Nick gave me a tour yesterday and oriented me somewhat, I was so tired that I don’t think it all was retained.

So, I spent the morning basking in the sunshine on the high terrace at the Hostal reading a guidebook about Sucre and Potosí.  I found a few things I want to do here in Sucre tomorrow morning, including visiting El Museo de Arte Indígena, El Caserón de la Capellanía, and La Capilla Virgen de Guadalupe.  Most things here open in the morning for a few hours, close for a few hours at lunch, then reopen for a few hours in the afternoon.  I’m going to try to visit all three places tomorrow between 9:30am and noon, which is when the earliest place opens and the latest place closes.

I have also been looking at things to do in Potosí.  Obviously I will be going to La Casa Nacional de Moneda (the National Mint), where the refined silver was stamped into silver coins to be sent back to Spain.  I would like to go to El Museo del Ingenio San Marcos as well, which houses a 6 meter diameter water wheel that powered the machinery in the refining mills that crushed the silver ore before the mercury was added.  I also would like to visit some of the churches from the colonial times as well.

But perhaps the one thing that I want to do the most and the least at the same time is a mine tour of Cerro Rico.  Cerro Rico is the silver mine, and is still being mined for what little silver remains, as well as zinc, tin, and other minerals.  For around $10 US, you get boots, coveralls, and a headlamp, as well as a 4 to 5 hour guided tour around and into the mine.  The mine is still active, so there are many gases and dusts in the air, tight spaces, muddy passageways to crawl through, and temperatures up to 115°F.  I’m truly torn as to whether fully experiencing what it’s like to be a miner and the conditions they work in outweighs the fears I have.  It will be a physically demanding adventure, and would be mentally and emotionally draining, but I know I will regret it if I don’t take advantage of the opportunity.  But…I have a few days to decide.

Lunch today was pretty decent.  Nick and I went to Los Balcones, which over looks the main plaza.  I had the salad bar (no lechuga para mi), which was small, but pretty good.  They had quinoa, which was delish, along with some other fresh veggies, some beans that looked like lupini beans, and some salads and slaws.  I also finally had llajua, which is a spicy tomato puree that I am going to be making a million gallons of when I get home.  It is really simple, but so delicious – on everything.  There were also these spicy pickled onions on the salad bar that I would like to make as well.

Dinner was pretty good.  We went to El German, el restaurante vegetariano, with Nick going, of course, for the Mocha Cake.  I had a baked layered dish of potatoes, quinoa, egg, and cheese.  It is by far one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten.  I will be most definitely trying to mimic this dish in my kitchen.  We returned from dinner and I sat staring at the stars on the terrace for a while.  They are so beautiful.  It was so peaceful and relaxing just staring off into space.

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