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Travel on     

Posted by Katherine Putnam on June 28th, 2010

“Life’s like a road that you travel on when there’s one day here and the next day gone…”

So I said I would update once a week…and then Chris and I took off for Sucre and that was the end of that. So here’s a Reader’s Digest Condensed version of our week in Sucre, complete with more pictures than you could possibly want.

We left for Sucre Wednesday, June 16th at 8:30 p.m. Our mode of transportation? Flota. For those not in the know, a flota is a night bus. Comfortable? No. Working toilet? No. Enough bathroom breaks? No. Conducive to sleep? Absolutely not. Therefore, as soon as we arrived at the Wardens’ (FH missionaries who kindly hosted us) apartment we crashed for a few hours before spending the rest of Thursday exploring a few parks and public areas (Plaza 25 de Mayo, Parque Bolivar), and ending it all with a scrumptious dinner at a small restaurant we found up at the Recoleta.


Friday we got up early to catch the Dino Truck that would take us slightly outside of Sucre to visit the Parque Cretacico, a small museum/park dedicated to the dinosaur tracks discovered at that site. Though relatively small in size it was a novel experience to see the dinosaur tracks on the expansive cliff wall (formerly horizontal tracks had been pushed vertical due to shifts in the earth over time, and the tracks were discovered while mining for raw materials) and to look at all the dinosaur models that peppered the grounds. We ended one novel experience only to walk right into another when we arrived back in Sucre. We were walking back towards one of the main plazas in search of some food when our eyes began to burn, sting and water profusely. Our confusion ebbed when we saw tear gas containers and police in riot gear farther up the road. There were still other pedestrians out on the street, so we continued past young men carrying rocks and ensconced ourselves in Cafe Amsterdam where we waited out some more tear gas and amused ourselves with food, drink, cards, and the World Cup. While back at the apartment, dining with the Wardens, we learned that the tear gas (and burning tires, which we did not see firsthand) were the result of university students rioting over a kerfluffle involving the ousting of the former mayor of Sucre, and the appointment of a new mayor by less-than-democratic means.


Saturday started off with a few kerfluffles of their own. First we were treated to the lovely, peaceful sounds of Sucre’s annual street race (that’s right, cars and motorcycles racing at high, dangerous speeds through crowded city streets with little to nothing to stop them from careening into a crowd if they miss a turn). Luckily our breakfast spot of the day was behind one of the few (only?) safety precautions: a wall of sandbags. After breakfast we took a micro outside of the city again, this time to try and visit the Castle. Oh, you noticed I said try, did you? That’s because it was closed. No real reason given, even though we arrived during their posted business hours. So Chris thought it would be fun to wander around the area a little bit. Well, turns out it was a military base and they didn’t think it was too fun that two gringos were just wandering around. My question: have they ever heard of a “Keep Out” sign? Maybe “Private Government Property?” We took things a little slower for the rest of the day; we played cards and relaxed in Parque Bolivar before joining the Wardens for dinner at Hong Kong (the restaurant, not the city).


Sunday we went to church with the Wardens before having yet another bit of “excitement.” On our way back we came across a street where we could see the motorcycle race pass. (Yes, Saturday was only Day 1 of the street races.) We stopped for John Warden and Chris to take pictures of the bikes as they passed. The speed of the racers was incredible: incredibly fast and incredibly stupid. Not to mention that, between riders, people would mingle out into the street or meander across. True, there were flaggers to warn them when the next bike was coming…but seriously? Then the unthinkable happened. I had turned to look at Chris, who was raising the camera to capture a shot of the approaching bike when a commotion from down the street drew my attention away. I turned, just in time to jump out of the way of a body that was careening down the street towards me; Chris moved out of the way too and we watched in horror as the body of an old man came to a stop ten or more yards down the street from us. John had been standing closer to the initial scene and told us that the old man had simply walked out right as the bike was passing, despite the obvious sound of an approaching cycle and the flagger’s warning. My memory of the event is jumbled and blurred by fear and adrenaline and disbelief; what I clearly remember is sitting, shell shocked, during lunch, listening to John and Jenny say that we’re lucky that the cyclist didn’t have time to react, otherwise he may have accidently veered the bike into the crowd and towards us. It was an odd thing to be grateful for and made me feel like a horrible person, especially when we learned (the next day) that the old man had died of head injuries. After such a horrible afternoon it was a relief to revisit Hong Kong with Chris and see the beauty of the fountain/light show at Parque Bolivar that night.


Monday was a public holiday so we had a much quieter day. We had a leisurely morning/afternoon of souvenir shopping and playing with the Wardens’ young daughter Ella (which only made me miss my nieces…and their mother…and their auntie). We took the Wardens’ recommendation and went to dinner at a local steak house (for lack of better term) called Pica Buey: so good! The meal was gigantic and I still can’t believe how much we ate.


Tuesday we stumbled upon what became our favorite breakfast spot: Cafe Abis. Fairly cheap “American” breakfast: fried eggs, toast with butter and jam, bacon, ham, tea or coffee and fresh fruit juice. That morning we also went to visit the FH office where Chris worked last summer. Unfortunately several of the people he wanted to see were not in, but we got to sit in on part of devotions, meet a few people and take a tour of the office. Later in the day we went on to tour the Casa de la Libertad (Freedom House) where I opted not to pay to take pictures. After that we went to the Museo de Arte Indigena (Indigenous Art Museum) where I took a few pictures despite not knowing if it was allowed. I’m rarely in a museum mood, so I wasn’t surprised that I got a little bored, but there were certainly interesting aspects to both locations. We continued the good food streak with ice cream at Parque Bolivar (I got a great flavor–tumbo–that we can’t seem to find a translation/equivalent for) and dinner at Chris’s favorite pizza joint, Napolitan.


Wednesday was one of my favorite days. We signed up for a horseback riding tour with an organization called Joy Ride. We ended up being the only ones on the tour (besides the guide) and the three of us embarked on a three hour ride to a small town outside of Sucre. The trail was a little harrowing at times and definitely a little hard on the posterior, but so much fun! Chris rode a big, gentle gelding named Benjamin and I rode a smaller mare named Emilia. The ride ended in the aforementioned small town where we visited a woman named Dona Nena who treated us to chicha (a drink made from corn), bread and goat cheese: very refreshing! She was a hoot, especially when she would address Chris and I, as she would dramatically slow down her speech and practically shout at us. I know we (Americans/English speakers) do this all the time, it was just funny to have the practice turned on us! It was also surprising to stand up to bid her farewell and find that she barely came up to my waist! From there we took a trufi back to Sucre where we enjoyed a free drink from Joy Ride for taking the tour. We opted to have dinner at Joy Ride as well (we did our best to tackle pique macho: beef, hotdog like slices of meat, fries, egg, tomato, onions, peppers, all sitting in the hot beef juice) before enjoying our other freebie from Joy Ride: movie tickets. The Joy Ride Cafe evidently shows movies frequently, and we were lucky enough to have free tickets to the “funniest Bolivian comedy in years,” a film called Who Killed the White Llama. It was VERY funny, though a lot of what we found funny was, likely, unintentional. My favorite part was the guide who showed up in each scene dressed as a different person; he was a taxi driver, a reveler, a businessman, a bum and he even dressed up as a woman several times. Ask me about the scene where he is a cholita giving directions to some gringos: it was our favorite.


Thursday we had a final breakfast at Cafe Abis, visited with another FH couple that Chris knew from the previous summer, packed up and boarded another flota (night bus) bound for Coch. After arriving home at 4:30 am (Friday, June 25) Chris and I went to our respective houses to crash mightily.

Since then we’ve been preparing for conference and departure and the wedding (photographer booked and reception venue soon-to-be booked) while finding time to hang out and visit a few of our favorite haunts for the last time. We went to Beirut (an awesome buffet that became an after-church favorite) and Las Islas on Sunday, and today we went back to Tunari (a delicious steak house here in Coch) for my birthday. I also got a birthday manicure and pedicure today which was quite fun and much needed (boy did my feet need sanded down due to the dry season). We’ve also been to the movies since arriving back in Coch; though neither of us knew anything about the movie (or the source material), Chris and I decided to indulge in an action flick and went to see The A-Team. I had a blast watching that movie! Howling Mad Murdock, Faceman and Baracus really cracked me up, and I thought it was a pretty solid action flick with great casting; I’d like to see it again.

On that note, I’ll bid adieu until (hopefully) a departure post. One week until I’m winging my way back to the US of A; nine days until I’m back home!


Katherine Elyse

“There is no Plan B.”
“You spin me right round baby right round…”
“Hang on everybody, I want to try something I saw in a cartoon once!”
“You should see these bullets in 3-D…it’s like we’re actually being shot at!”
“I love it when a plan comes together.”

4 Responses to “Travel on”     

  • Aunt Deb says:

    So now we know what you should do with that English degree. Write travel brochures!This was a great posting.Always knew you had a way with words.Thanks for sharing.

  • natalie says:

    Can’t wait to see you and hear all the stories!

  • aunt sherry says:

    Really enjoyed the post and can’t wait to see you at home and hear stories.

  • […] Last week we were able to visit Sucre for a relaxing and enjoyable break from the big city. Katie has written a great post about our activities there and put up some photos, so I will point to that. […]

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