Don’t Worry, I’m Still Alive!

Greetings one and all,

Allow me to fill you all in on my latest exploits, of which, unlike the last post, there were actually not that many.

After so many activities crammed into such a short space of time, I decided that I needed some serious vacation time to just straight up chill out. Sucre was definitely the place to do so. Perfect climate, beautiful city, a great hostel, and abundant street food made it a relaxation-seeker’s dream, at least as far as Bolivia has to offer.

I met a fella from Colorado, with whom I teamed up with for that week. Our days were simple, yet satisfying: wake up at about eleven, and then strike out into the city to find some good street food for breakfast. Then, at about two or so, grab a beer (or in my case, gin — they actually had Gordon’s!!!), head back to the hostel, and play a few games of cribbage. After this, we were hungry again, so back onto the street for more comida de la calle. And after that, well, it was time to party! What a great week.

A paragraph (maybe two) about the street food. First of all, it was abundant in both selection and quantity. Secondly, and most importantly, it was dang cheap. Our favorites were the renellos (or was it rellenos? I can never remember), which are little balls or patties of mashed potatoes with a filling of either beef (my personal favorite), cheese, or a whole hard-boiled egg. These are coated in a very light batter and then deep-fried right there one the street. It comes with an onion sauce and as much hot sauce as you want (a brief aside: the Bolivians are always surprised to see a gringo eat hot sauce. Without fail, every time I put it on whatever street food I was eating, their eyes would widen slightly and they would ask, “you like the piquante?” Evidently, stereotypes exist.) About four of these little guys count as a good lunch, and they cost a mere 1 Bs. (about fifteen cents) each.

Also available were empenadas, which are a a deep-fried (everything is deep-fried here — you can’t escape it) pastry shell filled with anything from meat to chicken to eggs to all three. These have a variety of sauces and veggies available, and the way you eat them is to stand next to the stand and adding a blob of whatever you like for each bite. Then you order another. They are more filling, but more expensive, weighing in at 2 Bs.

Another amazing thing were the street pizzas. These old ladies would wheel a little propane oven out into a plaza, and sell you a whole (small) uncooked pizza for 6 Bs. Then they would fire up the oven and cook them up for you! I ate a pretty ridiculous amount of street pizzas, I must admit.

My favorite, however, was to eat in the main market. Upstairs (and this is a feature in every market), there exists a cafeteria of sorts, consisting of rows and rows of tables, at the foot of each is a mini-kitchenette (wo)manned by a matron and her daughter. Here was sold “real” food: soups, rice, pastas, meats, and most deliciously, chorizo sausage. It is hilarious walking into that place (and not only because there are never any other gringos there), because all the women would clamour for your attention and try any means possible to get you to sit at their table. I managed to form a bond with one lady, and I sat at her table every day for a week, much to the jealousy of the surrounding cooks. I loved it — good, real food for only 5 Bs. a plate. In fact, I already miss her.

Brandon (the Coloradan) and I did in fact do one thing that broke our daily schedule outlined above. We decided to hike up one of the many hills surrounding the town. So up we went, through the slum, into the woods, and lo and behold there was a stone staircase going right to the top! In hindsight, it was no surprise seeing the chapel and giant Jesus with the halogen halo at the peak.

Up the Stairs to J-Dogg

The views were great.

Then, what with all the street food, the inevitable struck, and we both got very sick.

That was Saturday night. I can proudly say that for the next two days I had the worst diarrhea I have ever had in my life. Maybe you didn’t need to hear that, but it’s too late now! We tried self medicating with bowls of All-Bran to no avail. The extra-strong medicine we got at the pharmacy didn’t work either. And to top it off, we had to spend 19 hours on a bus with no bathroom. Not exactly the best bus trip I’ve ever had, needless to say.

Our destination was Santa Cruz (where I am now), the cocaine capital of South America. Yikes. It is stinkingly hot and humid (I’m sweating like nothing else just typing this), and I can’t wait to get out of here. However, we hear the nightlife is good so we’ll stay for the weekend. Oh yes, it sits at a mere 400 meters, by far the lowest I’ve been since mid-January. I was right — the air is noticably thicker, and dang but it’s nice!

I’m tired of typing, so I’m going to go now.

‘K Bye!

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~ by turvyc on February 26, 2008.

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