When I rolled into Sucre yesterday afternoon, three things about the city stood out immediately: The size, the character of the buildings, and the temperature.
I'm suppose to be in the constitutional capital of Bolivia, but it hardly feels like a capital city. Everyone always talks about La Paz this, and Santa Cruz that—Sucre never even gets a subtle nod during conversation. But the center of this city gives off a vibe that I'm not sure I've felt before—aristocracy.
This city knows how to do downtown right. I'm walking around town saying: This is Bolivia? Who knew! Gorgeous green parks and plazas are flanked by massive, brilliant-white colonial buildings, shining in the warm sun. This town has some of the most pleasant park design I've encountered yet.
The mixture of pine and palm trees is very odd. I'm in a temperate limbo between hot and cold. Put on a pair of shorts and stroll around in the 25° mid-day weather (77°F)—don't mind if I do! Street food is lacking here, but there's enough to be found in the chaotic masses of people in and around the markets (a sensation I can't imagine absent in my daily/weekly life at the moment).
The poeple aren't snobby here, it's just the presence of their city (center) lends itself to that of supremacy. I know that folks are proud of their city (they tell me so) and they have every right to be; it's' a nice town.
Excellent minibus infrastructure lets me get around just about anywhere I want to, and sometimes places I didn't mean to. I hopped on a bus that ended up taking me in the wrong direction, and eventually—because I was curious where it was going—out into the far outskirts of town. Buildings turned from white-painted concrete back to mud-brown brick buildings outside of town, but many residences still have an upper-middle class feel to them. I'm surprised at the number of lovely two-story homes I saw.
Hunting For Heaters
I pushed hard today, and canvassed the right parts of the city. Out of the dozens and dozens of locations and people inquired, I found two who claim they can supply me with 300 immersion heaters (in 24 hours or less). They're more expensive here than I'd like to see them bought for, and I've e-mailed Andy for clarification and instructions.
These little guys are apparently coming from two different places: Somewhere in Argentina, and from Santa Cruz (here in Bolivia). The units that Andy posses are fabricated in Santa Cruz, but the city is way off my intended path. I don't have much interest in busing for 17–20 hours to get there (only to backtrack along the same route a few days later).
I'm in an awkward place (mentally). In my head I'm pressed for time, there's an interesting time of year approaching rapidly and I'm not sure what to do—Halloween is almost here.
Argentina Versus Bolivia
I've been thinking long and hard about what I'm going to do tomorrow. I'm contemplating where I want to be for October 31 (Halloween) and November 1 & 2 (All Saints/Souls Day). I've never been in Latin America for such a time of year, and wouldn't mind positioning myself to see something of interest.
Salta, Argentina, is a city that I'm on the cusp of rallying to. The problem is that I'd be rushing off to an Argentinean city without reason—I have heard nor read anything conclusive about festivities there. Salta is simply a larger city with a decent reputation that I was planning on visiting (as my first city in Argentina) anyway. I've e-mailed a backpacking scout; he's seen a little Halloween promo activity starting up.
If I'm going to make it into Argentina by the 31st, I'm going to have to push it. The game plan would look something like this:
- Oct 26: Afternoon departure for an overnight bus to Tarija (17+ hours)
- Oct 29: Early morning departure for a "scenic" (so says my guidebook) 10-hour trip to Villazón, on the border with Argentina
- Oct 30: Cross the border in the morning and push to Salta (8 hours)
- Oct 31: Halloween
- Nov 01: Day of the Dead / All Souls Day
- Nov 02: All Saints Day
A friend of (and co-worker with) my dad, an Argentinean living in Buenos Aires, tells me that Halloween celebrations were nonexistent 10 years ago, but have been growing in popularity since.
Do I roll the dice, leave the wonderfully cheap cities of Bolivia, and push hard into a country I've been waiting to experience?
Unless I hear from Andy tonight, doing so will probably mean I won't be able to procure the immersion heaters for him (from Bolivia, at least). Then again, I have no particular interest in busing 20 hours to Santa Cruz, only to return along the same road to get to Argentina in a weeks time anyway. If I'm going to leave town, I need to buy my ticket now.
Hummmm… Decisions, decisions…