Potosi was tough.
Some incredibly bold thieves made off with Lucie’s professional camera just after we arrived in town. Instead of heading as planned to our Warm Showers host at the edge of the city, we staged a two-day stakeout downtown, hoping to recover this indispensable piece of equipment. We prowled the thieves’ market in the “Barrio Chino”, where hoodlums gather after sundown to sell their ill-begotten wares. While we tried to look tough and blend in, it was clear to everyone that we were only there because we’d been robbed and were looking for our stuff. It was hopeless. The few honest merchants scorned us, while the crooks simply avoided us. Our chances of recuperating the camera seem very bleak.
On December 21st, we escaped Potosi, where we stored our bikes and most of our gear, and headed by bus to Sucre, reputed to be the jewel of Bolivia and the most laid-back city in South America. “The White City” of Sucre immediately overwhelmed us with its opulence, splendour and tranquility. At 2700 meters, the city enjoys a fairly warm climate, a nice break from the dry cold of the 4000-meter altiplano. Palm trees strung with lights line the streets. The wide boulevards give onto beautiful colonial palaces. People seem happy and unhurried. To us, it was a paradise.
After almost 15 months of living in our tent and sleeping on the floors of fire halls, we gave ourselves permission to live it up for Christmas, and stayed in a comfortable hotel (for $5 a night)! Our $5 gift limit got us a surprising amount of booty. Our presents had to be edible, drinkable, extremely useful, light and/or small. We now have a lot of chocolate (Sucre has at least four gourmet handmade chocolate shops), new socks, a lighter, nail clippers and a razor! These may seem small tokens, but we were nonetheless both very merry opening our presents together on Christmas morning. Connecting with family in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and Egypt via Skype helped to keep the Christmas blues at bay. We took part in a Christmas parade on the night of the 24th followed by midnight mass in the Cathedral. On the night of the 25th we treated ourselves to a fantastic meal with wine, Caesar salad, steak and cheesecake at the jet set Joyride Café just off the main Plaza. We had a wonderful Christmas.
We’ve topped up on hot showers, exquisite Bolivian espresso coffee and fine cocoa, and are headed straight for Tupiza and then Villazon, the Argentine border. We hope to be in Argentina before the New Year.
A huge, red-ribboned “Thank You!” to our friends and families who have shown us so much support from the beginning of our expedition. While some of you are living this adventure through us, we are living this adventure thanks to you. We’re ecstatic to have made it this far.