October 18-19, 2015
We arrived into Sucre fairly early (around 7:30 am) after a very uncomfortable bus ride from La Paz. The bus stopped every few hours for bathroom breaks and there were a few instances where our bus had to wait 30-45 minutes for government officials to inspect the cargo. I guess they are cracking down on drug smuggling? We walked to our hotel but had to wait an hour until our room was ready. I was able to pick up a package that my dad had sent over three weeks ago—it was my ATM debit card…the one that was lost in Piura, Peru. Sylvie and I bought a half roasted chicken and an order of fries for $5.75. I carry around a bottle of mustard and BBQ sauce with me wherever I go, which made this dinner that much better! We both slept like shit on the overheated Bolivian 12-hr bus ride.
Our accommodations at Casa de Huespedes Condor B&B:
During the two days in Sucre we walked around the town. We visited the Central Mercado, Parque Bolivar, the Indigenous Art Museum, and the town center. Even though much of the town was shut down on Sunday we did walk through a citywide race that seemed to starts at the city’s main square. The square had beautiful gardens, relatively speaking.
The buildings that surrounded the main square were stunning—whitewashed with certain elegance that we haven’t seen since Cusco. In fact, so many of the buildings are white that Sucre has become known as the White City. People seemed to be a bit better off here than they were in La Paz. During an evening stroll through the town square we stopped to watch some teenagers break dancing
One of the highlights of our time in Sucre was our time spent relaxing around our hotel’s courtyard. After washing some of our clothing in the sink and line drying them, we enjoyed a few bottles of local beer that we had purchased in a nearby grocery store. When I say ‘nearby’ I mean it was less than 30 minutes away (maybe 10 blocks?). We had bought some vegetables at the central market earlier in the day and had the brilliant idea of going back to the supermarket to buy some ranch dressing. The veggies with ranch dressing and a cold beer was such a treat!
We went out to a fast food chicken restaurant during our last night in Sucre. We had ordered 10 chicken wings with a coke and a side of ‘pure’, or mashed potatoes ($5.75). I cleaned the bones!
We booked a 3-day tour to the Salt Flats for $123/pp. We later kicked ourselves for not shopping around enough because after we had booked our tour we asked another agency for their price and they quoted us a price that was ~$30 USD less (combined). We’ve learned to not care too much about which agency with book with. Mostly all agencies combine passengers on various tours until the group size is at capacity. The accommodations and services are essentially the same for all tours. Booking in advance is always the most expensive and least flexible option. For example, booking the Salkantay Tour in advance would cost $475+ (more than twice the price of booking the day before)
Our tour leaves from Uyuni Wednesday morning and returns late Friday evening. We could have chosen the option to have a transfer to Chile after our tour but we’ve decided to head onward to Argentina. Once we return to Uyuni we’ll have to catch an overnight bus to Villazon, a Bolivian city on the Argentine border. Once we cross over into Argentina we’ll have to take another overnight bus to Salta where we’ll stay for a night (maybe 2). Then we’re onwards to Mendoza via a 19.5-hr bus. Busing is very expensive in Argentina and Chile with rate exceeding $5USD per hour of travel per person. That means the 19.5-hr bus ride will cost us $~200USD. Hitchhiking is very common in Chile and Argentina and we fully plan to capitalize on any/every opportunity we have to do so.
In Mendoza we will stay with a local family for 7-10 days where we will help them on their fruit farm and vineyard. I may also have the opportunity to help them sell their produce in a local market.
During our walk to the bus station this morning we came across a dog that seemed to know exactly where we were walking. For 30 minutes this dog walked ahead of us leading the way. Even though we knew the way to the bus terminal we were stunned that the dog had actually led us all the way (over 2 miles) to our destination. We bought the dog a treat and even put peanut butter on it to show our gratitude but the dog didn’t seem interested.
We were planning on taking a 3-hr bus ride to Potosi and then transferring onto another bus where we had to travel for another 6 hours to get to Uyuni. We were lucky to learn that there was one bus that went direct from Sucre to Uyuni that departed at 9:30. I had read that this bus departed daily at 6:30 so I was happy to be able to catch this bus. For $18 we bought two tickets and the departure tax.
While we waited for our bus our new friend, the dog, continue to follow us around. We got a bite to eat and loaded up on snacks for the 9-hr bus ride.