Aaaaaaand I’m back. Bolivia. Oh, Bolivia, I loved you. I spent 6 weeks in Sucre and another 10 days of so between La Paz, Rurrenabaque and Lago Titicaca. Second only to Colombian, Bolivia will be the country I have spent the most time in throughout my trip. There are so many memories the question is.. where to start?
I stayed at the same hostel the whole time it was there and Kulter Berlin Hostal would truly became my home away from home. The hostel was amazing – by far the best breakfast buffet I have ever encountered, big rooms with comfy beds, nice restaurant specials, a very lively bar, decent wifi (by Bolivian standards) and fantastic people. The hostel was the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights which meant everyone – locals and backpackers from other hostels came to party. Disco lights, blaring music, weekly traditional dance shows and solid happy hour specials kept us all happy.
One thing about the hostel that I hadn’t expected was that the vast majority of us were taking Spanish classes. That meant that unlike the usual hostel where people stay 1-3 nights most of us were there for 2 weeks – 2 months. During the week we all got up for breakfast went to school, came back for lunch, had an afternoon beer, spent some time doing our homework, then got dinner, had a few more drinks and were in bed by 11ish. Having that much time together gave us a chance to make some real friendships and have lots of inside jokes (cue the boom boom room). Many of my favorite people from my trip are friends I met in Sucre. One things I regret, not taking nearly enough photos with everyone! I have since had many Sucre reunions both planned and just run-ins. The run-ins are fun. Hey.. I know you.. Sucre? Kulter Berlin? Ahhhh yeah! Good times.
Sucre was an easy fit from the beginning because I had ended the Uyuni tour with a group of friends and we decided to continue traveling together. I was the first to arrive in Sucre and they were quick to follow. With their arrival came lots of celebrating, lots of sneaking in outside alcohol (gotta love that budget travel life) and plenty of dancing.
My first Saturday night there we went out to a club and at about 3 o’clock I decided to call it a night. I cabbed back to the hostel and remembered that instead of 24 reception like most hostels there was a lock on the door with a passcode. Did I remember said passcode? Absolutely not. To add to that it turned out I didn’t have any money to pay for my taxi. Whoops. I’m in luck! There is a guy just about to go in! Ok, taxi man I’m really sorry but just wait here and I will back with money. I had money in my room, just not in my pocket. The guy, Keith it would turn out was equally excited to see me. He too did not know the passcode. Shit! So, hi, we haven’t met but I don’t have any money can you please pay for my cab? Stellar way to make friends. Keith paid, we waited and waited and waited until someone who was smart enough to have written down the passcode arrived. Once we got we met up with Keith’s friends who hadn’t noticed he had been missing but were excited to have him back. I then shared the potato chips and cookies I had left over from the Uyuni tour. The snacks had kicked around a Jeep for 3 days and then my backpack for another 3 days so it was all in crumbles but perfect food for some very hungry drunk guys. Friends it was! One night so many lessons – always tuck some emergency cash away for safe keeping, when your friends offer to cab back with you take them up on it and when doubt snacks will make everyone your friend.
One of the main reasons I spent so long in Sucre was because I was do a workaway placement. For workaway you are trading up to 20 hours a week for lodging and some meals. I worked as a receptionist at a Spanish language school in Sucre call Academia Andina. In the mornings I would open the school, welcome the teachers and the students, make photocopies and occasionally collect tuition payments. One special day I had to chase down a pick-up truck to switch out a 20lb gas tank (like the kind for a BBQ) so that we had gas for our kitchen stove. Needless to say a slightly confused and panicked gringa nearly knocking over the teeny-tiny locals walking down the street all while yelling in Spanglish for the truck to wait provided entertainment for the entire block that day. More often then not I just sat there and watched The Wire on their laptop. Whenever possible I snuggled little baby Luna, the perfectly adorable 4 month old daughter of the owners, Jo and Abel. In exchange for that my hostel with the fabulous breakfast and few families meals were provided. It was a pretty sweet gig.
I also took my Spanish classes at Academia Andina. In Sucre 1:1 classes are about $5 an hour so that fantastic and part of the reason it was so popular among the backpacker crowd. I learned a lot in my classes and I’m glad I took them. I wish I had done more/studied harder/absorbed more but… that’s the way of life. Classes were great though. Highly personalized and sometimes we even did excursions which kept things interesting. We also did cooking class twice a month and got together to play wallyball. Wallyball is volleyball but in what is basically a squash court with a net and the walls are considered in-bounds. It was super fun, I would like to play again.
After a few days my Uyuni friends continued on their journey. I was bummed to see them go but I continued to meet more great people through the hostel and school. The weeks went by surprisingly quick (just like my time in Colombia!) I actually loved having a schedule that was fairly consistent after months of all the time free time. Free time is great, don’t get me wrong but structure is something to be appreciated too. Halloween arrived and the hostel had a huge party. They went all out with decorations and got super into their fog machine. I didn’t have a costume so I just wore a lot of black and did some black eyeliner face painting instead. We danced all night, drank way to much and spent the remainder of the weekend recovering!
One thing about Sucre was that we were all terrible tourists. I visited 1 museum and no churches. I did go see the dinosaur footprints. To be honest the children’s play area was far more exciting then the dino tracks. I did finally in my last week or two make it to the Sucre Hat Factory. We arrived a bit late though so we didn’t get the full tour. We did spent a while trying on hats though!