Back to School in Sucre – Days 166 – 182

Tue 17th Jul – Thu 2nd Aug

The nightbus into Sucre was ok despite a slow start which took us 2 hours to get out of La Paz doing various stops – direct my arse! Once properly on the road, I pretty much sleep the whole way – phew!

I get to my guest house and am able to check in straight away. Casa al Tronco is a beautiful place at the top of the city by Recoleta. It’s small, quiet and has awesome views over the city.

I pop out to find the local market but end up wandering into town. I really like the look and feel of this city. It feels much nicer than La Paz. I end up joining a gym which I’m delighted to see has Les Mills classes and a spin studio. Vista gym is quite expensive thou and cost about £25 for weeks!

Underneath is a nice supermarket. As I’m here for 2 weeks I do my first weekly shop in months! Back at the house, I chill on the fabulous sunny terrace overlooking the city…

until I start to feel a bit ill (again) nauseous – and I only ate a sandwich!

Wanting to feel fresh for tomorrow, I get an early night but awake still feeling like crap – not the start I wanted to a 6 hour day in school! Yep, I’m here in Sucre to return to school to fine tune my Spanish. It’s one of the best and cheapest places in all South America…and it’s meagre in comparison to what the costs are back home! Due to time constraints, I plan to cram 72 hours into just 12 days!

My teacher Fernando is awesome! We have a great laugh and his teaching style suits me perfectly. It’s just a shame part of my head is elsewhere with being ill! It’s hard to concentrate when u constantly feel sick.

Despite feeling lousy and a long 6 hours, I force myself to go to the gym. Spin class done (despite my ass not liking it much after Death Rd)

but it has completely wiped me out and the 3 long hills to walk home completely wipe me out!

I avoid the gym the next few days, school alone is knackering. I learn a lot but it’s tough going. Finally it’s the weekend and the plans I had are halted as I can barely get out of bed! After 9 hectic weeks through Peru and into Bolivia, I think my body is simply calling out for a rest and a day in bed with healthy food and Netflix is the order of the day!

Feeling much better on Sunday I decide to do the Sucre city tour. Here thou there aren’t companies like everywhere else and I end up paying 17 with Condor! Lucho was a great guy but the tour did fall a bit short for my liking.

The main things I learn here is that Sucre is actually the capital of Sucre and not La Paz. In 1825 when Bolivia gained its independence, it was declared a Republic in Sucre and it’s written in the constitution that Sucre is the capital. As noted in a previous post, Bolivia experienced a lot of political turmoil and in 1899 when the Liberals and Conservatives clashed and the Conservatives were overthrown and immediately moved the seat of government to La Paz. An agreement was reached and Paz became the seat of the executive and legislative branches of the Bolivian Government and the judicial branch remained in Sucre. Despite protests and a new constitution approved by only just over 50%, Sucre remains the capital of the country.

The other interesting fact I learn is about Casa de Libertad

and the woman who is buried/honoured there. Simon Bolivar is world famous for his efforts in the independence of many South American countries. The last one being Bolivia hence it’s named after him. There was also someone else instrumental in Bolivia gaining its independence – Juana Azurduy de Padilla. An expelled nun for being to rebellious, she and her husband joined the 1809 rebellion. In 1811 they joined another battle in which they list all their land and possessions. Juana and her 4 children were captured but later rescued by her husband. She fought in many more battles and in one in 1816, pregnant with her fifth child she was injured and her husband killed whilst trying to rescue her. Many more battles ensued and she was forced to flee to Northern Argentina working for the army there. At the highest point of her control, she commanded an army with an estimated strength of 6,000 men. She returned to Sucre in 1821 and me with Simon Bolívar a few years later. He was shocked by her impoverished state. He promoted her to colonel and gave her a pension whilst also petitioning the government to give her property back. Bolívar said at the time “This country should not be named Bolivia in my honor, but Padilla or Azurduy, because it was them who made it free”.

Juana never received her property and in 1857 her pension was stopped. She died forgotten and in poverty at 82 in 1862, buried in a communal grave.

She was remembered as a hero only a century later. Her remains were exhumed 100 years on and were deposited in a mausoleum constructed in her honor here in the city. Years later there are now statues of here around the city.

From here we go to Mercado Campesino, not usually one for tourists but as the Central one is closed, Lucho doesn’t want me to miss out. We stop for some fruit and a juice – where again like in Peru, if u use the word ‘yapa’, they refill ur glass – chala (cool)!

And up to Recoleta where I’m staying which is actually where Bolivia’s independence was declared.

Feeling slightly more human, I feel up to eating out and tonight’s choice is pizza at Napolitana – a suggestion from my friend Babisa. It’s the best pizza I’ve had since leaving Montanita…definitely worth a visit.

Monday it’s back to school and back to the gym. This is the first time in 6 months I’ve had any kind of routine in my life. Because it’s through choice as opposed to mandatory, I’m actually quite enjoying it!

At the end of Monday’s class comes a shock, Fernando is going on holiday and I have to change teachers. News I wasn’t expecting and didn’t like but nothing I could do.

Tuesday comes and my new teacher is very experienced but we are on different planets and just don’t hit it off like I did with Fernando. The situation wasn’t helped by her having a lot of personal problems and finding my direct mannerisms and personality a constant dig at her teaching capabilities. I’m 39 years old and too old for this! I’m a firm believer that whatever problems you have at home, u leave there when u come to work. With all this, I request to have my previous teacher back when he returns next week.

Things hit a new low on Friday when she’s frustrated by my questioning for not understanding something and decides to quit as my teacher! The manager of the school tells me to take the afternoon off and I’ll be back with Fernando as of Monday! All rather odd but hey it’s Friday, school’s out and I’ve got that Friday feeling for the first time in 6 months so I go to the gym and buy some wine on my way home! I share this with a French lady on our terrace back at the Casa.

With the Friday feeling well and truly setting in, I decide to head out for the night and go to no other than a good old fashioned aptly named British pub – The Red Lion! I get chatting to the owner and then join a group of teachers from a local school who are on a staff night out, for drinks and food and good old sing along with the great band that’s on. Finally the wine gets the better of me and I need to head home!

My plans of heading to the gym this morning are dashed by a hangover. Not the worst I’ve endured but definitely present. After a lie in I go in search of Cosmo Café – I’d read they do a full English fry up and deem this to be the order of the day….until nausea takes over and I’m unable to eat much of this epic epic find!

I go back home planning to just chill and do some Spanish until my school friend Stef texts asking if I’m still up for going out! I’m not but figure it’s a Saturday and my last weekend here – it would be nice to meet some new people (my guesthouse is awesome but there’s not many people there). Within 10 mins I’m changed and out the door. There’s been a feria (fair) on at Recoleta for the past few days in celebration of Santa Ana so we go there for a few games of table football. It’s great to see do many families and teenagers having such fun with such basic things. Not a drop of booze in sight, no egos and no fighting. The UK could learn a thing or 2 from this but it would probably end up all getting ruined and vandalised.

From here we head to Goblin for a leaving do of some people Stef knows. A mix of Brits, Yanks and Bolivians all drinking and playing card/drinking games in Spanish! Pretty cool really and a tip top night!

Sunday and no hangover so it’s the gym and a wander around the city. I head into the historic centre and Bolivar Park which I find hard to believe wasn’t included in the city tour of last week. It’s a great park and has loads going on for kids – including the hire of these cute little cars.

Little things go such a long way and I really think so much of this could be introduced back home. My friend Babisa told me about an ice cream place so of course I have to try this out…Ice Park on a hot sunny day is just the ticket!

Monday and it’s back to school with a bit of trepidation. I was looking forward to having Fernando again but he messaged me last night saying he’s going to be away all week but has arranged a cool teacher for me this time. My Facebook post alerted him to the drama with the previous! Now I have someone called Gabi and she’s uber cool and friendly and as part of the morning lesson takes me to the cemetery which is bizarrely a must see here. There are many big memorials for the political, rich and famous people

but more interesting (albeit somber) is the way people are ‘buried’ here. Actually not being buried at all but coffins inserted into slots in a wall and glass cases on the front for photos, flowers and memorabilia etc.

Tuesday I finish off the last of the grammar – 14 tenses in Spanish in total and I must admit my head hurts!

Gaby is so easy to get along with, chatty and extremely interesting. We talk about all sorts! Wednesday we head to the the famous El Patio so I can sample their salteñas. A once tiny little place selling these pastie/empanada type things is now a huge and well renowned thriving business.

My last lesson takes me to Mercado Central. After finding out that I hadn’t yet tried Sucre’s infamous chorizo we go for another mid morning snack….they’re bloody good and only 70p! Rather than heading back to class, we again while away an hour or so talking chicos, politics, contemporary issues and my (lack of) future plans! After lunch we go to a rooftop mirador above a school and church to get a great vista of the city.

Having skipped lunch, I’m finally hungry enough to head to the French restaurant I’ve wanted to visit since I came – La Taverne. It has great reviews and they’re well worthy. The food was delicious (despite ordering a Thai curry in a French restaurant) and although many say it’s expensive, it only cost £17 for a starter, main and bottle of wine.

Slightly tipsy and with the rest of my wine in tow, it’s time to get to the station.

I meet a fab woman called Elizabeth from Uyuni and after talk of wine, we tuck into the rest of my bottle!

A woman after my own heart and an interesting journey! I can feel Spanish has definitely improved as we talk about all sorts!

Next stop Uyuni arriving around 4am….

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