We caught a very tiny plane from Santa Cruz to Sucre. The plane ride was about half an hour while a bus from point to point would have taken upwards of 15 hours, and likely more due to the rainy season, floods and potential landslides. The cost of the flight was not too expensive—only about $50 AUD each and while a bus fare would have been a lot cheaper, sometimes your time is worth more than your money. The flight was a bit bumpy and made me very nervous but seeing Sucre from the air kept my mind occupied. It is an area which looks very different to Santa Cruz. We left the jungle for a sepia-toned desert landscape with brightly verdant plants and golden cheddar yellow flowers everywhere. The people look a bit different as well—more ethnic and friendlier. All the older generation wear more traditional clothing and the ladies wear blouses and long skirts which appear very thick around the waist–either several layers of material, or they have to be wearing a hoop of some kind. They also wear their hair long in twin braids which they flip behind their shoulders. A wide brimmed hat completes the look. I have been warned not to take pictures of them as they get very angry. I must admit though, that my fingers itch for my camera every single time I see an interesting abuela. The older men wear caps like my grandfather used to—I always thought they looked Mennonite and I am finding out that many Mennonites indeed do live here in Bolivia.
Part of the charm of Sucre (the traditional capital of Bolivia) is that it looks very European which makes sense as Spain settled Bolivia. The streets are on a grid, the architecture looks Spanish—white walls, archways, red tiled roofs, etc. We went to Casa de la Libertad (house of Liberty) museum where we were lead around by an English speaking tour guide who taught us a bit about Bolivian history. We learned that Bolivia used to be called “Upper Peru” and that parts of it included what is now Argentina. Also, the first two presidents of the country after they declared independence in 1825 from Spanish rule were actually Venezuelan by birth, but every other following president has been born in Bolivia. The country is actually named after its liberator, Simón Bolívar who was also the president of Gran Columbia and Peru simultaneously. His second in command Antonio José de Sucre was appointed as the second president and so the country’s capital at the time was named after this second president.
Sucre also has a university in its center, so there are a lot of more modern looking Bolivians as well, as the younger generation does not normally wear the traditional dress. We were only in Sucre for a couple of days but really enjoyed eating local (cheap) food in the market for our lunches and wandering the friendly streets.