Archive for June, 2011
Posted on June 30, 2011 by jason
We’re out the door to pick up our new upholstery (hopefully) and hit the road. Adios, Sucre.
We already mentioned the weirdness with all the used Japanese (Chinese?)… uh, Asian buses rumbling through town. Well, a few other vehicles were notable as well.
First, Angela spotted a VW Notchback on her way to class. I don’t think I’ve seen one of these in person in over a decade, so she definitely gets full credit for the Über-rare VW spotting.
I will take credit for spotting the giant VW LT-35 that pulled up beside us at the camp site, though. A cool Austrian couple hopped out and immediately exclaimed “Vee have your big brother!” I didn’t know these existed, and it’s an impressive machine. Kinda like a Syncro on steroids.
And, if you are a Toyota Landcruiser fan, this is your city. It’s crawling with them. Without a doubt, I’ve seen more Landcruisers in Bolivia than anywhere else, and I can say with absolutely certainty that Sucre is the Landcruiser capitol.
That other thing… I have no idea.
Posted on June 29, 2011 by jason
We’re still waiting on the upholstery. Angela went by the shop yesterday and they haven’t been able to find the right color material. In order to speed things along, we chose a slightly lighter beige color that they think they can locate immediately. If all goes well, we’ll hit the road tomorrow. Sucre isn’t a bad place to be stuck, but we are really itching to leave.
We were going through some of our photos while waiting around and we completely forgot the weekend we burned tiny trinkets as an offering to Pachamama. This required another trip to the ‘witch’ area of the market.
We passed on the various and sundry carcasses and dried toucan beaks (!) and went straight for the pacha offerings. Our witch doctor sprinkled some animal fat and other goo over our gifts to make sure they burned well. Our guy at the camp site even helped us with the proper ceremony that included kissing the Earth. A nice touch.
The general idea is that Mom Earth with return the favor and present us with real versions of this stuff over the next year. Can’t hurt.
Posted on June 28, 2011 by jason
It took an email from my mother the other day to remind the both of us that it was our anniversary. That’s life without a calendar, I suppose. I’d post some embarrassing photos from when we took off to Europe and eloped 13 years ago, but that hard drive crash last week wiped them out. Such is life.
I was quick to offer Angela a unique anniversary gift, though. “How about all new furniture… for the ENTIRE HOUSE?!” I didn’t quite get the response I would expect if our house was bigger than 50 square feet, but she took it.
We’ll hopefully get our interior finished and be able to roll out of town very soon.
After more time in Sucre, all we can continue to say about it is that it’s just really nice. I can see why it’s a burgeoning destination for immersion Spanish classes. We met lot’s of other folks – no Americans – from around the world who have come here for just that. We went to a big party the other night and we thought it would be a great place to practice our Spanish.
Everyone from our school was there. All of the students mingled together and spoke English. All the teachers were on the other side of the party speaking Spanish. Funny – you would think everyone would try to take advantage of the opportunity.
On second thought, considering the crowd, I guess they actually were trying to take advantage of the opportunities – chatting up Aussie girls is probably way easier in English.
On the other hand, Bode has got all the teachers in the palm of his hand. Our chocito barely has to say a word in Spanish and they melt. One day in the future, “let’s go for a ride around the block on your motorcycle” will probably have a completely different result.
Posted on June 26, 2011 by jason
One of the reasons we intended to stay in Sucre a while was to “get some things done.” Sometimes we feel like we have all this stuff to do – and we do – but it’s usually a revolving non-specific list of things that we can never remember. We need to get something accomplished, but don’t know what it is*.
Anyway, after lingering and only getting a few things accomplished here, we decided to hit the road and head over the the highest city in the world – Potosi. But, within a few minutes of pulling out of our camp site, we drove by a tapaceria. That’s an upholstery shop – and hey, that was on our list!
Every seat in the bus is torn (except mine) and this would be a huge thing to cross off our bus project list. Angela had seen this place earlier and we decided to pull over and talk to the guy. He took a quick look at the inside of the bus and said 4oo B for the whole thing. That’s about 60 bucks.
I double checked the price and he assured me it was correct. I showed him the giant cushion in the back for the bed and he nodded that it was included. I explained to him the rear bench seat construction and he nodded that he got it. The rear-facing jump seat… si, si.
This seemed a little too good to be true – the material should cost more than $60 USD. Before we agreed to go ahead, we figured we’d throw in the custom upper bed for Bode. I guarantee he’s never seen one of those before. He didn’t skip and beat and said no problem he’ll include that too for the same price.
Just to be sure, I went over to his shop and inspected some of his work and materials. He showed me what he was working on and there was a guy in the back measuring fabrica and putting it on a machine. Granted, I saw some loose seams, but we just can’t go wrong here if the price sticks. I went back to the bus and grabbed my tools to start pulling out seats. An entire Westfalia custom re-upholstered for 60 bucks. We’ll see how well this works out in a few days.
After that, we had to figure out what to do while we wait a few more days in Sucre. Camping is out, since we now don’t have beds. We found a hostal near downtown – $15 USD a night that includes wifi and secure parking. All of our stuff is now sloshing around the inside of the bus, so it was an interesting ride around town.
After we parked, I could smell the distinct odor of what is probably my clutch, so there is potentially one more major project that could force us to stick around Sucre. I know I smoked it up pretty good climbing a few of the hills on our long trip here. Maybe it will fix itself, maybe it’s trashed. No clue. I’ll take it for a test drive manana and try to figure it out.
*One of those things is answering email. We do try to answer all of them. This week, Justin at The Great Family Escape asked us about traveling through Peru.
Posted on June 23, 2011 by angela
There is a huge clothes market near our campsite. Apparently, these clothes were intended to be donations to Bolivia but somehow end up for sale on the street. The storefronts range from clothes piled up on the road to tiny stalls where a few articles can be hung up for show. Of course, you can also buy all the usual market stuff too – dried llama fetuses, giant bags of peanuts, etc.
Some of the clothes are brand new with the manufacturers tags still attached. Others are obviously Goodwill donations (with tags) or were rejected somewhere along the line (JC Penny, we see your tags too.) Apparently the clothes come in large shipments and each weekend the enterprising locals have managed some sort of system to get these to the street vendors.
Some of the vendors specialize in a particular type of clothing, though many seem to get the raw end of the deal, selling only old belts or used flip flops.
Our first attempt at visiting the market was a complete failure. It was overwhelming, and really you needed to sort through piles and piles of clothing for hours. But, there is some good stuff in there. Name brand high-quality snow gear can be found if you really search.
So, we returned with a plan–we needed cold weather gear and we would concentrate on that.
Though we were fairly successful in finding some winter clothes, we quickly became more interested in the mannequins. These must have been donated as well… from a Halloween store.
Posted on June 22, 2011 by angela
Bolivia – and Sucre in particular – are big on chocolate. That suits me just fine. For research purposes, we visited most of the shops in town.
Conclusion: if your chocolate shop doesn’t have chandeliers, you’re in the wrong place.
Posted on June 21, 2011 by angela
We are really enjoying Sucre.
Our camping spot is sweet, close to town and with use of a kitchen and dining room. We’ve spread out and made ourselves at home. Usually there are about 2 other vehicles camped out here (mostly French). The spot is basically the garden and casita of a business. A business you have to know about because there are no signs indicating this is neither a generator rebuilding business nor a campsite. GPS coordinates get you here, but you have guess which door to bang on.
The owners are sweet and talkative, but I can’t understand a word they say. The man serenaded us the other night with a charango. She took all of us campers to the mercado to buy supplies. When the wifi signal goes down, the son is brought in to repair it.
Our morning walk to Spanish school is beautiful but the car pollution (see the buses) makes us choke. There is usually a marching band in the plaza at some point during the day (all ages). Most the stores close from 12:30 until 3pm, the others only open after 4pm or on weekends. The only store that seems always to be open is a man that repairs old soccer balls. From the looks of it, he has a lot of business. We can’t seem to get anything accomplished.
It’s a nice town, it’s set up for tourist which means the things you need are available somewhere (a seamstress, an English language book exchange, etc.) It is the constitutional capital of Bolivia (though now seats of government are in the megalopolis of La Paz), but really a small college town. The altitude is only 9,000 feet, so we finally feel as if we are getting some oxygen in our heads.
Oh, and kid-wise it is perfect. It’s sunny every day. There’s an excellent park, with rides for about 30 cents. There is a modern 2 screen movie theater, where on opening day of Kung Fu Panda 2 (dubbed in Spanish) our tickets were $2.25 USD each and the medium popcorn and 2 small sodas added another $2 to the total. There is also the town square with climbable statues and pigeons.
Bode has the best Spanish teacher, too. She’s very good with him, though I’m afraid he’s calling the shots. The other day I heard them having a pillow fight (his idea). I really wonder how this kid will fair in a ‘real’ classroom.
And, only today we learned that along with our buddy Big Blue, we received an “Honorable Mention” in last year’s GoWesty calendar contest. We figured we were just plain rejected. We’ll try harder next year.
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