We haven’t really posted any updates on our travels in the last month because, to be honest, we’ve not actually been travelling! We’ve inadvertently found ourselves living in Sucre, Bolivia…
I’ve not met a single traveller here who hasn’t stayed longer than they’d originally intended. This isn’t helped by the fact that there were protests going on in a neighbouring town so no one could actually, physically leave, but my point remains. We arrived with our friend Fay who was supposed to stay two nights. She stayed a week. Our friends Sarah and Dom had already been in town five weeks and were supposed to be leaving when we convinced them to stay another two. You can say you’re leaving Sucre but I won’t believe it until you’ve actually gone.
We had always intended to stay at least two weeks while we knuckled down and did some Spanish lessons. Checking into the best hostel in Sucre – 7 Patas – was amazing and it sucked us in right away. The place is like a big share-house. Most guests are learning Spanish and are around for a while and it’s a tight-knit little group. Within the first few nights we were there we had a communal pizza night whilst we watched South America’s soccer tournament, the Copa America. Three weeks later we found a room in a new apartment up for rent which was cheaper than the hostel. We’d have been mad not to stay around for another two weeks to enjoy private living! We were definitely going to leave after that though. But then we realised it will be my birthday the week after and it’d be nice to spend that with our friends here. So we’re just going to stay one extra week… I won’t be surprised if we never actually leave this town.
So, what’s sucking us in so much?
We’ve made a great bunch of friends here from the hostel guests, the hostel workers and our Spanish teachers. There’s a lifestyle here. Sucre (technically Bolivia’s capital) is a beautiful colonial city with gridded streets and pretty courtyards. It’s big enough to keep you entertained but small enough to feel familiar after a couple of days. We have our favourite cafes and bars and because everyone either works or is at school the Friday Feeling is a real thing again and weekends are something to celebrate. Unfortunately more often than not it results in us at the shitty (yet wonderfully cheap) club called Mitos at 3am singing along to a stupid Enrique Iglesias song.
Also, Bolivia is cheap. We’re paying $75 a week for our room with its en suite and the fully equipped kitchen (with bloody shocking joinery. I don’t understand how that cabinet maker remains employed when he can’t make a drawer shut) and are paying next to nothing for groceries. Bolivians aren’t interested in supermarkets – there’s only about 2 in every city. They are all about the market. We have our vegetable casera (special lady who you are loyal to and in turn she looks after you) who gives us a massive bag full of vegetables for about 3 dollars and always chucks in some free chillis and tomatoes. And a decent bottle of red wine is $2.50.
Learning Spanish was a big part of the reason we’re here and I’m sure you’re wondering how it’s going after Fish’s latest post…
Before we arrived here the extent of my Spanish speaking was the ability to rap Troy’s parts of Troy and Abed’s Spanish Rap from Community’s first season. Fish and I learnt this in the airport on our way to South America and whilst it amuses the locals no end, it’s not particularly useful in everyday situations. From watching Encino Man approximately 5000 times in my life I can also say “the cheese is old and mouldy, where is the bathroom?” which is only a little more helpful. At the recommendation of my dear friends Danny and Alisha who spent 4 weeks here a few years ago we enrolled ourselves at Me Gusta Spanish School. Bloody good advice it was too and if you’re ever wondering which Spanish school to choose in Sucre don’t even hesitate – Me Gusta is the best.
Our first week we did lessons together from 8:30 til 12:30 and it was trying to say the least. I’m impressed we’re still together. Not least because making me get up before 10am for reasons other than a flight or because the building is burning really is not to be recommended. 4 hours a day is absolutely draining. My brain was fried. In the afternoons I didn’t even want to read, write, or listen to music (my Candy Crush addiction got to rehab levels). I put in more hours studying than I did in university (I can hear you now, Mum, saying “well that wouldn’t be hard!” Cheers.) So the next week Fish stayed home to study by himself and I carried on with just three hours a day, giving myself a little extra sleep-in. By Thursday I came home in tears – reflexive verbs and past tense had pushed me to the brink. The good thing to come of this was that Fish bought me flowers and chocolate. So, swings and roundabouts I guess.
Now I’m doing just two hours a day in the afternoon with our friend and teaching extraordinaire Vicente. Vicente is a Veterinary student, English teacher, guitar player, ex-professional soccer player and All-Round-Great-Guy who is growing his hair to donate to cancer patients for wigs, and gives his old t-shirts to street dogs to keep them warm in winter. He also has 17 scarves which he colour coordinates with his outfits yet is straight. What an enigma!
Vicente and his mates have been awesome to have around not only to show us the good spots in town but also to practise speaking Spanish with. They’re very patient as I’m sure I make very little sense. In fact, Vicente confirmed that very tactfully in my lesson yesterday saying “you make lots of mistakes but at least you try”. Story of my life, V-dog. So anyway, my Spanish is getting better and is at least functional.
So, our month and a half in Sucre has been fabulously relaxed and at (very rare) points productive. It’s the end of the tax year and our returns are looking good – we’re looking at rescheduling our flight home to early 2016. We’ve even managed to rake in a tiny bit of income through online freelancing. I’ve actually been paid to write! How ridiculous yet awesome. I may never have to take an x-ray again…
This weekend we’re going camping in the countryside and next weekend I’m having a shared birthday celebration with our Melbournite buddy Anton. And then apparently we’re leaving. But I’ll believe that when I see it.
(The title of this blog is, of course, from Hotel California by The Eagles)