Sucre, Capital de Bolivia [41/50]

The ride from La Paz to Sucre was too far to do in one day, so I rested in the desolate mining town of Oruru on the way. This ended up being a wise decision as it took forever to get out of car-chocked La Paz. La Paz is located in a broad, deep valley and the way into the valley is the same way out of the valley, which I couldn’t figure out because it defied my logic based on machine-learned experience from other cities in less challenging locations.


In Oruro, I met a young French/Chinese cyclist entering the ramshackle, adobe fringes of the beat-up town and stopped for a chat. He had a wild, rugged look in his eye and was deeply tanned, disheveled and driven by an infectious curiosity. We spent the evening talking about riding, about solitude and traveling the more interesting back roads of Bolivia. I enjoy meeting travelers like him that take things one step further and ride thousands of kilometers, often through extreme and exceptional conditions, to explore the world and its people at a stately pace (far beyond the two-minute-noodle dictates of the instrumentalist, poverty jet set). In the morning, he rode off into the desert along a dusty, gravel road towards the salt lakes and I felt a little mediocre as my transportation has something that resembles a motor.


Sucre is the Capital of Bolivia (and I know someone told you that La Paz is the capital which isn’t true so stop stop saying it right now). Sucre is a colonial city, set out on an orderly grid with a lively Plaza del Ames and numerous luminescent white churches and civic buildings protected by a UNESCO World Heritage overlay (which is good because South America has the world’s ugliest Modernity hotly contested by Canberra).


It has an excellent arts scene, numerous cafes and bars and the second oldest university in the Americas. It is a small city on a human scale, so it is possible to walk most places (and stop for cake and coffee on the way).


Bolivia is one of the world’s great indigenous countries, and the majority of the population of ten million people originate from indigenous groups such as Amerindians and Mestizos. However, it is also one of the poorest and least developed countries in South America, making it inexpensive but challenging to travel within. For instance, petrol is subsidised for locals at less than half the international market price, but travelers must pay the international price. This isn’t an issue with a 125cc moto but there is a problem when eighty percent of petrol stations won’t sell petrol to foreigners (as I think that they don’t want to do the paperwork). I went to six petrol stations on the road from Oruro to Sucre, and none of them would sell gasoline to a gringo. At the last one, I finally lost my temper and said something disparaging about the Bolivian revolution of 1952 and used a hand gesture common in the United States in the 1970s to add emphasis. This Mad Max petrol system doesn’t fill me with confidence to travel further afield in Bolivia as it is prone to rorting and extortion (and running out of petrol in the desert doesn’t appeal). I wonder what Che would have done on that fuel guzzling, shit-box bike of his?


The hostel where I stayed in Sucre had a deal with Spanish lessons so I spent my week brushing-up on Spanish as I still have about three thousand kilometers, dozens of hotel rooms and two countries to ride through (hopefully, with petrol). Sucre has some excellent Spanish schools and just like Cuenca in Ecuador, has a reputation as one of the best places to learn Spanish in South America. Next I will ride the moto across the Uyuni salt flats in Southern Bolivia and then cross into the Atacama desert in Chile, one of the driest and most inhospitable places on the planet (hopefully with water).




2 responses to “Sucre, Capital de Bolivia [41/50]”

  1. Novian Masyhuri Avatar

    Is there always have hot weather?

  2. Craig Avatar

    Yes (sorry it too me 5 and a half years to respond)

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