I had a hunch.
After all that communal drinking at the Fiesta del Espíritu in Potosí – where you’d be served beer or singani in a small cup, pour some out for Pachamama, drink, then hand the cup back whomever had the bottle to be immediately reused – that I wouldn’t escape unscathed.
I definitely didn’t.
Sunday’s resaca (hangover) from a mix of beer, singani, one meal all day, and the 13,400 foot elevation was a solid one. Two days later, I came down with a sore throat and stuffy nose. I wouldn’t change a thing about partaking in the party with the miners, but sore throats are the absolute worst.
I left Potosí on a rapidito, a shared cab with room for four passengers, if you will, but we were actually five passengers since I guess it’s cool to ride shotgun with a lap child. Seatbelts didn’t work either, which made the fast, curvy drive a little uneasy. Go big or go home if you’re gonna be unsafe, I suppose.
I arrived in Sucre not knowing what to expect besides a pretty, white-washed colonial town (small city?) that is the capital of Bolivia.
And I got that, but it was also pretty white-washed in the sense that there were a whole lot of young, caucasian English speakers all around the center of town (and in my hostel) in Sucre to learn Spanish. Not that I dislike young, caucasian people trying to learn a new language, but I didn’t come to Bolivia, the most diverse nation in South America, to hang out with white people and speak English at cafes & pubs where menus are bilingual and prices are 4x what locals pay. I knew right away I wouldn’t stay long.
I didn’t. 2 nights, 1 day was plenty (infuriatingly slow Wi-Fi was the other negative issue I dealt with in Sucre; the 2nd worst I’ve ever experienced, behind Zimbabwe), and, given my health, what I enjoyed the most about my time in Sucre was the food!
Sure, Sucre was definitely a quaint, picturesque little town that was worth checking out, but as a sick person, I was in the right place for completely selfish reasons. Chicken farms surround Sucre and, thanks to a hot tip from my girl Mallori, I knew that huge, fresh fruit salads were readily available for less than 2 USD at the mercado. I also tried the chorizos, something Sucre is known for, at Doña Natty (thanks to a suggestion from Edson, a fellow passenger in rapidito). They were good, but not 45 Bs (nearly 7 USD) good; I couldn’ve bought lot of chicken soup for that kinda money, because…
At 10 Bs ($1.30 USD or so) for a big bowl of fresh chicken soup (one of them served with french fries floating in the broth; first time I’d see that), or a similar price for a nice grilled portion served with rice and veggies, I took advantage of the situation and ate plenty of chicken during my brief stay. And both mornings I had a mega delicious serving of fresh fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, and nuts at the mercado for 12 Bs. And absolute steal for such a huge portion of much-needed natural goodness to combat the cold.
I also had ice cream, which wasn’t part of the plan, but I’m a sucker (and a fat-kid-at-heart).
A 12-year-old shoe shine boy named Isaac asked if he could take care of my shoes, which have seen better days but can’t really be shined since they’re not leather or pleather. So I declined and thanked him for the offer. Some small talk later he asked if I’d buy him some ice cream, since that was what he was going to buy with the money. I acquiesced and we went across the street to Sucre artisanal ice cream, where we both walked out with triple scoops and only one of us walked out with buyers’ remorse. He was happy and thankful, and I was glad I could put a smile on his face for a minute.
My awesome 98-year-old great-grandfather used to shine shoes in Mexico City when he was a kid, so I have a soft spot for children who, regrettably, are in that line of work.
After taking in a nice, cool, quiet sunrise at the mirador at the top of the hill and getting a breakfast of champions to go (plus a quinoa juice! Trying to kill this cold.), I walked to the bus station to hop on my first truly rickety-to-the-point-of-being-concerned chicken bus, on which I was definitely happy to be the only English-speaker and delighted that I actually couldn’t understand much since most people were speaking Quechua.
Off I went to chase Che (Guevara) in the middle-of-nowhere Bolivia, a great multi-day adventure!