An imposing government building on the main plaza
From the very beginning I was pleasantly surprised by Sucre. The weather was certainly a big improvement due to the 1000 meters of altitude drop from Potosi and the old colonial buildings created a great atmosphere. The central plaza is one of the prettier plazas that I have seen in South America with big leafy trees and colorful flowers lining each walkway. The central market is also amazing with its colorful variety of fruits and vegetables so invitingly arranged, it definitely grabs your attention. At the center of the market is an open courtyard lined with fruit stalls all run by women where they each sell various fresh fruit juices for 3Bs and delicious fruit salads for 4,5, or 7Bs.
The Cathedral tower through the plaza foliage
The assortment of fruits available leads to some good combinations with a tumbo (unripened passion fruit) a unique addition. Other than the fruit stands there is also a place that sells meats and sausages which grills up sausage sandwiches to order for 8Bs that are really tasty. Some of the other meat sellers have this strange custom of displaying the cow heads and partially skinning them so that the snout and fur around the nose are still visible while the rest of the skull has been flayed down the flesh and cartilage; I guess whatever works to move the merchandise.
My visit also managed to coincide with an annual film festival they hold in Sucre with various movies about human rights. Some of the movies were in English while others were in Spanish with English subtitles or Quechua with Spanish subtitles.
Colorful cornucopia of fruits and vegetables in the market area
One good movie I saw was called Mardi Gras: Made in China about the slave labor factory where they make the beads for Mardi Gras (http://www.mardigrasmadeinchina.com/
), another interesting movie, Under Juarez: The City Devouring its Daughters, was on the serial killings of young women in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, TX, and the suspected cover-up and protection of the real culprits that allegedly leads all the way up to Mexican president Vicente Fox (http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/382524/Bajo-Juarez-La-Ciudad-Devorando-A-Sus-Hijas/overview
There wasn´t really much else to do in Sucre, but it was fun just going to the market and eating and drinking fresh fruits and vegetables.
Cow heads anyone?
The road blockades in Bolivia had been extended indefinitely since the protesters felt that people weren´t taking them seriously, but as the weekend neared word came that the blockades would be temporarily lifted for the weekend and would resume the following Monday or Tuesday. To bring things up a notch the taxis and minibuses decided to strike on Friday so the streets were remarkably empty and peaceful without their omnipresent honking. Amazingly enough, this lift to the blockade coincided with a big festival and parade that were planned for Saturday in Sucre. Bleachers were set up in the street around the main plaza and early Saturday traffic was blocked off around the plaza. It was hard to figure out what time the parade actually started as everyone gave different answers but things finally got underway around 2pmish from the stadium and snaked through the streets of town arriving in the plaza around 4pm.
Dancers at night during the parade
In what might be the longest parade ever things finally wound down around 2am. The parade was composed of people from the different departments of the local university and each department were dressed up in costumes with different themes and music which were evaluated by a table of judges. They had been selling tickets to the bleacher seats and for sidewalk space, which had been marked off with paint, all week, but no one gave us a hard time about sitting in the bleachers. The parade certainly didn´t run smoothly as there were inadvertant 20 minute breaks between groups, leading many to lose interest and wander away from time to time. Later in the evening around 9pm or so the streets were completely full and they had begun shooting off fireworks in the plaza and along the parade route. The city had done the responsible thing and put up a few porta-potties which consisted of wooden plywood boxes strategically positioned over the removed sewer grates with pipes draining straight down.
The street at night in between parade groups
Of course there weren´t enough of these so most of the men were just peeing on cars or in the recessed corners of buildings yielding streams of urine that flowed down the roads. At about this time the street vendors really got going and confirmed my belief that Sucre must be the street food capital of South America, there were probably some 40 different kinds of street food: popcorn, chocolate popcorn, chips, anticuchos, hamburgers, milanesas, papa rellenas, street pizza, cotton candy, peanuts, donuts, cake, chicken, fruit juices, choclo, chicken and beef sandwiches, the list goes on and on.
The next day the streets smelled like toilets and I was happy to be heading onward to Cochabamba; with the blockades resuming shortly, who knows when I will be able to leave there.