6 days of lots of hanging out, dinosaur prints, and mountain biking

Sucre Travel Blog

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Touted to be the most beautiful city in Bolivia and the country´s de facto capital since the congress is held here.  Many tourist come here for different reasons, including relaxing which is mainly what we did.  It is one of the biggest centers in S America for learning Spanish, contains the longest fossilized dinosaur prints in the world, and serves as a basecamp for treking, biking, horseback riding, and paragliding tours.  Our room at Backpackers was like a suite, with high ceilings, cable TV, and our own bathroom (which we had to pay $20 for them to open).  The hostel had 2 courtyards where we ate breakfast in the mornings (when we were up early enough for). June 1st was Justins birthday, so we went to Joyride to watch a movie, and then went out.  The bartender told us about a fun pub, which he later joined us at with another friend.  They then took us to a discotech, which we danced at for awhile and left at 430 am.  June 3rd we decided to do a mountain bike tour through Joyride.  We started out at the pub where we met our guide, Charlie.  Since Sucre is situated in a valley (although it is still at a high elevation), we started climbing out of the city alongs its narrow streets.  The traffic in S. America is very different from the US.  There aren´t really any defined traffic lanes, stop signs, or yield signs, and traffic lights are far and few between.  Crosswalks might be painted, but it doesn´t mean cars will stop or even slow for you.  Cars signs their entering into intersections by honking their horns.  Yet, horn honking also means "get out of the way", "do you want a taxi?", or many other things.  In fact, so many that nobody really pays attention to horns.  So we started our climb out of the city, getting honked at and trying to stay out of the way.  Sucre is a very relazing town, and it was nice to see a little more of it via bike.  As we got closer to the plateau, the homes became poorer and poorer, until once again the homes consisted of the dirt-brick homes that we have seen so many of.  We traveled along the plateau for awhile before dropping down into the canyon where the hacienda we were to have dinner at was.  The road became a little more rough, with larch rocks scattering the road.  Charlie informed us of a shortcut, which was nothing more than a rocky dirt trail alongside a ravine.  Justin tried to dodge a ditch, but ended up hitting a rock and falling along the trail.  We made it to the hacienda, and I admit, I didn´t get to enjoy most of the beautiful scenery along the way as I was concentrated on the rocky path in front of me, and trying not to get shaken off of my bike.  The hacienda was located  at the bottom of the canyon next to an almost empty river bed.  A few other farm and ranch houses were also in the valley.  We followed the river bed up to the waterfalls by foot, which despite their being so little water, were still very pretty.  Eric jumped of the last waterfall into the cold, clear, pool below as none of the rest of us were brave/stupid enough to do it.  We came back to the hacienda which is owned by an ex-senator, whos wife uses it to entertain guests.  The ranch has a large lawn with palm and orange trees from which hammocks are strung between.  There was a pool but of course it wasn´t heated.  We had a BBQ of sausages and argentine style steak, complete with chimichurri sauce and the Bolivian condiment of pured tomatoes and hot peppers.  Salad, bread, and of course french fries were also served.  We ate underneath a canopy that over looked the gardens below with onions growing in it and corn drying on the roofs of the nearby sheds.  A truck took us back up to the plateau, where we go back onto our bikes (ouch), and biked it back into the city.  The sun was starting to go down and the sheephearders were bringing their flocks back, which I almost ran over one of the sheep.  Our butts were sore, but we made it back to Joyride.  We ate dinner at a fondue restraunt and went to bed following.  June 4th we got up and went to a nearby town that supposedly has a great Sunday market that attracts quite a few tourists as the indiginous people from around the area bring in their goods to sell.  Yet, even though there were many vendors crowding the snall dirt streets that branched off the main square, almost all the goods were the same.  It became frustrating because even if you just wanted to look, the people would try to push their products on you, making you feel guilty.  We had enough and decided to eat at one of the cafes in the main square, but this didn´t stop people from approaching us every few seconds and trying to sell us something.  After lunch we walked around for awhile, looking at some of the items.  They had everything from calculators, batteries, shampoo, to fruits and vegetables, and arts and crafts.  We went back to the bus to wait for it to take us back to Sucre.  Justin packed up at left and we relaxed for the night.  June 5th we packed up as well and stored our bags at the hostel while we went to the dino tracks.  A cement company discovered fossilized dinosaur tracks in 1994, and since then it has become a national monument.  Through movements in techtonic plates since the cretacious period (65-140 million years ago), the dino tracks are displayed on an almost vertical wall.  The tracks can be seen because the dinosaurs crossed the lake (which then covered the area), probably running away from the exploding volcano.  The volcano released ash that fossilized the prints.  Yet, not all the tracks were in the same direction, so this theory is a little flawed.  The best tracks were the ones of the velociraptor, which were 3 large scratches from their large claws.  Sadly, there isn´t a museum, and the demonstrations were made with toy dinosaurs in a puddle.  The cement company is also still active, digging and blasting around the wall, damaging the prints.  The wall is also not covered, yet there is supposedly plans to put silicone over them to help preserve the prints.  We walked back across the gravel pit to the Dino-Truck, an old international truck fitted with benches to carry tourists to the site, and went back to the square where it dropped us off.  We picked up our laundry and headed to the bus station for our 6 pm bus to La Paz.,  Once again we were told their was to be heaters on the bus, but of course there wasn´t.  14 hours of bitter cold and not getting much sleep.  We stopped at Potosi (yes, we had to go back that way because there aren´t many roads to choose from) where we grabbed our dinner, FRENCH FRIES.  We stopped at one more place in the middle of nowhere in the morning, so Eric had to jump off the bus while they stopped to load some cargo.  He had to pee right next to the bus and hop back on the bus as it started to pull away.  We continued on to La Paz.
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photo by: AndySD