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Sucre: “the White Capital” of Bolivia

Even though La Paz has taken over as the administrative capital of Bolivia, Sucre is still being the constitutional capital, with the historical reason being that it was located close to the wealth and silver mines in Potosi which will be our next stop on this journey.

“La Ciudad Blanca” or the white city probably has the most calm and relaxing athmosphere in Bolivia, and the city center is well kept mostly with clean, white building walls and some impressing churches and government buildings around the Plaza, the center of the city.

The city also has a pretty mild climate as it is located much lower (at 2700 masl) than the other capital La Paz, where we met our tour group a couple of days ago. We will follow G Adventures and our group for a fifteen day adventure through some of the highlights of Bolivia, Chile and Argentina before ending the tour in Buenos Aires.

Today, our group of sixteen people split up from our hotel, Independencia, to go to different activities such as hiking, quad biking, horse back riding through beautiful nature surrounding the city, most of the activities ending with a visit to a wall with over 200 dinosaurus footprints (Cal Orck’o), located about 20 minutes outside of Sucre, on the way to Cochabamba.

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Cycling Los Yungas aka “the Death Road”

Months ago, around the same time we booked our around the world tickets, we also booked a day tour activity called the “Death Road”. An old trade route where hundreds of trucks had fallen down the steep cliffs that followed the narrow road that today is mainly used for cyclists. This day trip had been our parents biggest concern for our travels, but when getting on top and seing the amount of people that take this cycle tour every day, and getting a good security explanation from our bicycle guides at Vertigo, we quickly saw that this is a trip that anyone can do safely by just going in their own pace.

At 8 o’clock in the morning we set of on the one hour drive to “La Cumbre”, the start of our tour, located at 4700 meters above sea level. From there we had a 45 minute downhill ride on tarmac, crossing through beautiful landscape while getting used to our bikes, before we once again jumped into the van to drive a few kilometers to the starting point of the Yungas Road, also known as the Death Road.

At 10.50 we started paddling downhill through clouds and muddy roads. The climate changed several times between sunny, foggy and rainy, and the temperature gradually got warmer as we went down. After five hours, 54 kilometers and a descent of 3500 altitude meters we could call ourself survivors of the death road. We had reached Yolosa, which was the end of the cycling part and drove from there straight to a hotel where we could have a shower, a swim at a pool and a good lunch, while talking to other groups that had done the same crazy ride. On the three hour ride back to our hotel in La Paz, everyone were sleeping after the exhausting downhill ride, and when we returned to our hotel at 8pm we were so finished that we just went straight to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

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La Paz, the Highest Capital in the World!

Flying into La Paz in the morning was incredible, where we could see the shantytowns laying around the airport in El Alto at 4000 meters, while the nicest houses were located down in the valley where it was almost a thousand meters lower, and therefore a lot warmer.

These were things that were well explained on a free walking tour, that starts every morning outside of the worlds craziest prison, the San Pedro Prison, which is fully run by the 2500 inmates and their families that live inside. Rapists and murderers were placed in a much worse prison on top of a mountain, where it was constantly cold, but in San Pedro there were criminals of bribery, narcotics, fraud etc who are mainly living peacefully together with their families on the inside, with just around 10 people patroling the prison on the outside. The kids and wives are allowed outside to go to work and school, but the prisoners have to stay inside, where they have their jobs, rented apartments and had their own markets and restaurants.

It was also really interesting hearing how it worked on the bolivian markets, where bartering only would lead to higher prices or rejection, while talking nicely to them and maybe flattering the sales ladies will give you the best prices. All ladies selling apples and grapes will sit next to each other, while the ones selling the same cheeses will be sitting next to each other, so the Bolivians will choose the lady that is nicest to them and be loyal to that sales lady through generations, as the sales lady then will save the best chese for them and give them some extra every time they come buy from them.

They also explained a lot about the “Cholitas”, the natives wearing long skirts and a hat that revealed if they were single or married by wearing it straigt or on the side. The only thing they could reveal through their thick clothing were their calves, which was the most important part of a woman because strong legs would mean that they were suitable to work and carry children at the same time. The Cholitas with the strongest legs were the ones fighting in the Cholita wrestling shows, where lots of local men would gather at the arena every sunday to watch these women with the same kind of eyes that people back home follow the Victoria Secret fashion show. Quite fascinating to hear about, and even more fascinating to see live on the stadium. Tickets were sold at our hotel “Las Brisas” and at most agencies for 80BOB/12US pp which included return bus ride, entrance ticket, popcorn, postcards and water.

The wrestling show was quite interactive and crazy, where the Cholitas got the whole crowd engaged by yelling, spitting, throwing water dragging the audience up to the stage to wrestle or force-kissing them. These things and the fact that every second someone could be flying over the fence and into your lap made you really alert throughout the show. The Cholita wrestling show is not anything I would have gone to see at home or would have watched on tv for that sake, but here at the stadium in Bolivia where everything could happen it almost got us as pumped with adrenaline as when riding the death road, and for anyone being in La Paz on a Sunday, I would definately reccomend going.