More Breathtaking Bolivia

Sucre, Bolivia is a gorgeous white-washed UNESCO-site of grand architecture.

And at ‘only’ 2810 metres altitude, it was a bit of a breathing break!

Money from Potosi flowed here as people found the temperature warmer here.

The city centre is Plaza 25 de Mayo.

It is anchored on one side by the Catedral, which takes up most of the block.

Other prominent buildings around the square.

A trip up to Museo de la Recoleta, to the right of the church.

It is a former Franciscan convent established in 1601.

Looking down over the city from a shaded and breezy proménade.

Museo de Arte Indígena focused on the woven fabrics of indigenous groups as well as how the costumes and music are part of their culture.

Men’s traditional weaving is very different from the fine intricate designs of the women.

It was very interesting to actually see dancers wearing similar outfits at a Sunday presentation downtown.

Sunday is a great in these Latin American cities. They block off central streets for walking and bicycles.

This street is usually jammed with cars honking horns! And with no pedestrian rights.

Iglesia de San Francisco (1581).

Central Mercado

A lovely shaded spot with a bench is very welcome!

Temperature drops to 5-9 at night then up to 25.

I’ve been trying some traditional Bolivian dishes.

Sopa de maní (peanut soup) didn’t taste like peanut butter!

Quinoa has shown up several times. This is with chicken in tomato vegetable sauce.

Mondongo is a specialty of Sucre. It is pork cooked in a spicy paprika sauce with choclo (dried corn like hominy).

These were part of a menu del día (menu of the day) that is offered at lunch. Usually had soup, a choice of main, and a dessert for a fixed price.

Here it is about 45 bolivianos ($9 CDN)

And I like the conversion rate – $1 CDN is about 5 Boliviano compared to 600 Chilean Peso. That was just too many zeros!

And then a trip to Cementerio Municipal.

There were hundreds of smaller cubicles decorated with flowers, candles and photos.

Some were in apartment style complexes.

Smaller for the children.

Larger for the wealthy families.

It was like a beautifully kept park.

Back downtown they were busy decorating the square for Christmas and planting new flowers.

Another lovely colonial hotel a half block from the Catedral.

COVID update. Masks are required in enclosed areas. Wearing one, with my reduced oxygen, is something I don’t miss.

So today it’s a flight to La Paz on Amaszonas (yes, that’s correct spelling) Airline to save a 12-hour bus trip.

Sucre airport was a 45 minute taxi ride but only 70 Bolivianos (CAD $13.50). They had to go that far to find flat land!

I landed at El Alto airport, which is 4062 m altitude, and the world’s highest international airport.

It was a 30 minute taxi to my hotel in La Paz, though the hairiest traffic I’ve seen!

Sucre was calm and the streets were on a grid system.

La Paz is mainly the opposite! It was built in the valleys between the Andes. Those are houses in the background!

The best way to reach the heights around the city is with the Teleférico. It’s an aerial subway!

It began operation in 2014 and now has 26 stations on 10 lines. The lines are named for colours. The cars and stations are also colour coded.

I took a trip on Celeste (light blue), transferred to Amarillo (yellow), then to Plateada (platinum) and back on Morada (purple) line. Over an hour and a half for 10 Bolivianos (CAD $2).

It was so quiet and peaceful.

Illimani is a beautiful snow capped mountain (6428 m). For comparison, Kilimanjaro is 5895 m.

San Francisco Plaza is a large people watching spot.

San Francisco Basílica (1548) collapsed under heavy snow in 1610 but was rebuilt in 1743-1772.

The facade is decorated with Catholic and Bolivian flora and fauna to recognize the combination of new and old traditions.

I’ve noticed these vaccination tents set up in major pedestrian traffic areas. Great idea!

And they are offering up to 4th shot of Pfizer or Sinopharm. There was also a blood pressure tent too.

But still masks are required indoors and this fellow was spraying feet and legs of people entering the church. I must have snuck in while people were exiting a service.

Mercado de los Brujas translates to ‘Witches Market’ but the shops are just selling offerings to Pacha Mamá (Mother Earth).

These may be herbs and special firewood, but also dried llama fetuses that should be buried in the foundation of a new house. The fetuses come from miscarriages or death in the cold weather.

Museo de Etnografía y Folklore is housed in a 1730 mansion.

It was very well done. My favourite was the display of ritualistic masks and the video showing mask makers at work.

Some amazing hats made from feathers.

More food!

This was an upscale menu del día. There was a lineup to get in and I ended up at the counter looking at the open kitchen.

It was fun at watch twelve people moving smoothly while doing some amazing plating!

Bread in the style of a neighbouring village.

My Rellenó de Achojcha – stuffed chili pepper

Santa de Pollo – chicken with a potato croquette.

Chirimoya ice cream with white chocolate curls

All three courses plus the beverage was only 79 Bolivianos (CAD $15.50) before a tip.

In a more modest place I still ate well for 15 Bolivianos (CAD $3). The first time I had soup and chicken. The second, soup and Pique Macho (stirfry beef, onions, peppers over fries).

But fast food started at 30 Bolivianos, and chain restaurants at 50.

Plaza Murillo was surrounded by some grand buildings.

Asamblea Legislative Plurinacional

Catedral Metropolitana (1835), with weddings.

The services must not last long because the first wedding’s Mariachi band was still playing when the second started. It was a bit much!

I’m fascinated by the Cholitas – indigenous rural Bolivian women who wear the colourful skirts, shawls and bowler hats.

I’ve read that for years they have faced much discrimination. They were barred from public transit, taxis, restaurants.

They have been very entrepreneurial to make a living. But they are now getting into politics, media, and teaching. Strong and resilient women.

Their outfits tell a colonial story but they have turned it to pride. The skirts were from a Spanish decree to mark them as inferior slaves, similar to the Basque in Spain. Traders brought the bowler hats from England, intending to sell them to Bolivian men. But they were too small so the traders convinced the women that these hats were all the rage among fashionable women in London.

Protests are common.

A salteña mascot

These Micro buses (3/4 sized school bus) are common, as well as minibuses.

Well, tomorrow I’m off to Peru, so time to post this! See you there!

6 thoughts on “More Breathtaking Bolivia

  1. Oh my god Leslie, how beautiful is their country, amazing. Wish you were here for brunch tomorrow but it looks like you have a much better selection. 😂. Your pictures are beautiful!

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

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