Tired but happy that I had survived the long bus trip to Sucre without any “interruptions” (regarding my stomach) I got into a taxi at the bus stop and told the driver the name of the hotel that I had booked. “Muy caro, muy caro”, the old friendly man whistled – and for Bolivian terms 25 USD p.P./night is definitely a lot. But after having felt that miserable and sick for the last few days Michel and I had agreed to treat ourselves to a nice place for a few days. And when I entered the lobby I instantly knew we had made the right decision because the beautiful, old colonial-style house was absolutely smashing! Fountains bubbling in the courtyard, beautiful views over the historic city center and a big comfy room with – yes – down covers!!! This was again one of those moments where you learn to greatly appreciate the everyday things from home far more than you would ever do at home. Since there is no heating in any of the houses and all the places in the Altiplano in Bolivia and Peru with altitudes of 2.700 meters and far higher get really frosty at night (particularly in the damp wet season) this down cover was like X-mas, Birthday and Easter all at once to me! Originally we had planned to stay in Sucre only for 2 days but since Michel had some problems with his motorbike and needed to get it checked we ended up staying there for 5 days. This was a good opportunity to slow down a bit and relax which was – in hindsight – the best thing to do. Sucre – the city in white (because all buildings in the historic center are white and there are still strict rules that your can’t color your house however you want) – used to be the capital of Bolivia and still is the constitutional capital of the country (in 1898 the seat of government moved to La Paz). It lies at an elevation of “only” 2.750 meters and has a population of 250.000. The old center has beautiful colonial style buildings, a charming, quiet, green Plaza with all major museums and official buildings around it. Sucre is also known for its pretty, numerous churches, sometimes you have 2 or 3 churches next to each other. It is a lovely city to spend a few days at, the center is very compact and you can do everything on foot. We visited 2 nice markets, one being a colorful food market and the other one being a combination of a food market and market-for-all-you-need, particularly clothes. There were generally very few tourists around (maybe because of the rainy season) and on the markets we were pretty much the only gringos which was a nice thing to experience. Visiting the churches – despite the huge number of them – turned out to be a bit tricky because they all have limited opening hours (a lot of valuable interior got stolen in the past so they need someone to watch over the churches) so it took a few attempts till we managed to see some of the truly beautiful churches from the inside. The main cathedral featured a great museum with some amazingly fine artifacts from the 15th and 16th century and it is also home to the Virgen de Guadalupe, the city’s patron. Originally painted in 1601 the work was subsequently coated with highlights of gold and silver and adorned in robes encrusted with diamonds, amethysts, pearls, rubies and emeralds donated by wealthy colonial parishioners. The jewels alone are worth millions of dollars, making it the most valuable Virgin in the Americas. On our last day we walked up the steep streets of the town and chilled out at a nice outdoor restaurant which gave us a great view over the whole old city center.
Instead of hopping on another tiring, long 12 -14 hour bus trip to my next destination, La Paz, I opted for the luxury version and bought a plane ticket for 80 USD which took me only 45 minutes to get to Bolivia’s capital.