Saturday, January 7, 2012

And we thought Panama was hot...

One thing Sam and I were really looking forward to our trip (other than, of course, going on this incredible adventure together) was missing the Boston winter.  However, we did not think about the weather taking extremes in the other direction.  Let me tell you, Santa Cruz in January is HOT.  And it does not cool down much at night (hence our need to switch to a room with AC). Coupled with the fact that there is really not much to see in Santa Cruz, we did not particularly enjoy our time in this city.  
There was a nice square in the center of the city with a beautiful cathedral on one side, people protesting in support of political prisoners, and some crazy Christmas lights that lit up the square at night. 

Otherwise, we spent most of our 2 days in our air-conditioned room or hanging out by the pool.

We also went to this incredible store called Artecampo that supports over 1000 women in rural areas by selling their beautiful handicrafts.  (Yay for supporting the local economy!)  Overall, we were not disapointed to leave Santa Cruz on Friday and head to Sucre, the second capital of Bolivia (the other one is La Paz) where we will be spending the next couple weeks taking Spanish classes and living with a host family starting tomorrow.  After spending the last few days in weather reaching the upper 90s and not cooling down much at night, we were happy to walk around in 60-degree weather.  Also, I must add that most backpackers get from Santa Cruz to Sucre by taking a 20-hour or so busride that can only be described as hellish.  Sam and I being the adventurous people that we are to decided to take the half-hour flight and get a nice view of the crazy windy road between the two cities.  

Right now we are staying at this really cute hostel called Hostal Wasi Masi.  It is by far both the nicest and cheapest place we have stayed so far (only $17/night for our own room and bathroom). 

It is a short walk to everything, and they have a small restaurant where for a mere 28 Bolivianos (or just over $4) Sam and I were both able to eat a delicious traditional Bolivian meal that consisted of chicken soup with chick peas, rice, and half a potato; a huge plate of rice, a fried egg, fried potatoes, and some sort of flat fried meat patty; and custard.

There are tons of places to study Spanish here; apparently everyone staying at our hostel is taking classes, and we found out many people have been living here for weeks (Sucre is that type of city where people come to visit for a bit and end up staying for much longer than they intended).  We haven't done too much yet--yesterday we mostly wandered around the city, hanging out for a bit in a park, and talking to people at the hostel.

As far as we can tell, we are the only people from the U.S. currently staying here.  Today we attempted to go to a museum, which was closed for no apparent reason (see a theme here?) and it has been pouring off and on all day, so another low-key day.  Tomorrow we are excited though to go to a market in the city of Tarabuco, about 1 1/2 hours from Sucre, which is known for selling local textiles; and in the afternoon it is off to meet our host family!

Overall, it has been really interesting to come to Bolivia, and many things about it have surprised Sam and I based on what people have told us about it, so some general observations/thoughts (which hopefully won't make Sam and I sound too naive):

  • It is more built up and diverse than I think either one of us was expecting
  • There are a lot of places selling U.S. and European-brand clothes at U.S. and European prices, which we found interesting considering this is the poorest country in South America
  • I really miss being able to eat fruits and vegetables whenever I feel like it.  After my doctor telling me to not eat any raw vegetables here and absolutely don't eat lettuce unless it's been soaked in purified water, I did not know what to do our first night here when I found my dinner sitting on a piece of lettuce (ridiculous I realize in retrospect, but I think Sam and I are a tad paranoid when it comes to the gastrointestinal department).  It's also weird to rely on bottled water when I so rarely drink it at home.  


  1. Awesome. Here is a photo of me getting a haircut in the courtyard of wasi masi!/photo.php?fbid=536083946602&id=29100243&set=a.536083657182.2049294.29100243&ref=bookmark&__user=29100243