I do not believe that I can give an honest assessment of what the city of Sucre is like. It would be like a tourist in New York spending 5 days in the city without ever leaving midtown, except to visit upstate for a day. This is essentially what my time was like in Sucre. I spent entire days only in the city center. I can however say that I really enjoyed my time in Sucre, and if my travel time was not becoming increasingly limited, I would have like to spend a lot more time there. I think it may be my favorite of the big cities I have visited in South America so far.
Several decent options for vegetarian food made dining a relief. I was quite tired of Pizza and Pasta being my only options throughout most of my Bolivian travels. The city is also quite beautiful. Colonial architecture everywhere is topped with lovely red roofs. The city is full of hills, with mountainous backgrounds, making it a very picturesque place to wander.
Sucre is a college town, and home to the 2nd oldest university in South America. There are small schools throughout the city center that offer spanish classes to travelers. I took a private lesson while I was there to help me improve a bit. I had planned to take a course each day I was in Sucre, but somehow time escaped me and I only took the one. This city makes it very easy and affordable to take Spanish classes to anyone interested.
While in Sucre I visited a small anthropological museum close to the main Plaza. The main attraction in the museum is the Mask exhibit. I regret to report that I have no pictures from this; I was not allowed to bring my camera into the museum. However, I am happy to report that this small exhibition was extremely inspiring. The masks were all part of traditional ritual dances by indigenous peoples throughout Bolivia. The masks were made of anything and everything from paper machete, wood, metal, wire, sequins, mirrors, fabric, and on and on. I want to go home and make masks! After visiting this exhibit, I found myself drawing quick sketches in my notebook of characters that I have met along my travels interpreted in mask form.
There are many interesting day trips available from Sucre. I spent some time debating between a hike to dinosaur footprints and a hike to cave paintings. I chose the cave-painting hike (click to read more about my hike), though given more time I would have happily done both. The group that I went hiking with were all from French Canadians from Quebec. I was the one outsider, but I took quite a liking to this group. I don’t connect with every group of people that I find myself surrounded with, particularly on tours. This crew was a pleasant surprise. They are all staying in Sucre for 2 months working on a project to teach cinema to the indigenous communities in the area. A bizarre project, but a very interesting one.
I ended up spending much of my time with this rag-tag group of Canadian’s while I was in Sucre. And as I have said many times in previous posts, it is often the people you meet on your travels that make a place special. So Theo, Valentine, Kabisha, Frank and Felix – thank you for helping to make my time in Sucre so memorable! My next post will be about our beautiful hike.