Monday, 16 March 2015

Passing by, Potosi – Sucre – Santa Cruz

There will always be a place or places where you just skim by, there not by choice but merely a stop to break the journey along the way especially when one is rushing to get somewhere far away by a certain time. Thus that was Potosi – Sucre and Santa Cruz for me in Bolivia trying to skip hop as fast as possible to the border town of Puerto Quijarro - Corumba so I could try to get to Rio in time to keep my promise to meet a friend by a certain date.


Potosi was a gruelling-winding 4 hours bus ride away from Uyuni. I have done longer bus ride bus before but somehow this one was just edging on my nerved and I could not wait to get out of the bus when we reached Potosi. Arriving at night in Bolivia is not a good idea I realized as bus stops are usually out of the way a few miles outside the city and with most cities in Bolivia leaning on slopes getting lost and just wandering around is not very pleasant and can be quite exhausting.

Taxi was hard to spot at night as well since only a small sign or sticker on the front window marks the cars as a taxi. I manage to get one after nearly half an hour blundering about and gestured him to the preselected hostel Koala Den.

Other than the silver mines there is nothing much to do in Potosi and I was not keen on entering the mines for one bit. There are tours where they first bring tourist to the miners market and nice tourist will be obliged to buy coca leaves, equipment’s or even dynamite to be given as gifts to the miners while visiting the mines to show sincerity. Working in underground construction sites before I wish some nice tourist would come visit my workplace and bring me goodies but hell I work down there for the money and was pretty sure mining silver was the same thing. Call me inconsiderate but everyone does things by free will … there is no such thing as no choice …

I did however tried to locate the miner’s market by foot which I did and the market which was not a market but really just shops along a street selling construction gear. I would say it was like a hardware shop along a street. Potosi did feel a little more dangerous for some reason. I walked everywhere to places I guess I should not have walked, got looks and stares and felt really unsafe outside the main square when I was wondering further and further away to unknown places and at many times I almost just turned back but somehow kept going. Nothing happened but I could not shake that feeling away.

Without much to do I left after two nights of rest to Sucre ….

The most interesting sign I have ever came across during the travels so far and also the most enlightening one was at the bus station in Sucre about the taxi’s in Bolivia

What great notice signpost. The first time that I have an inclination of how much a taxi should cost thou it made no difference as the Taxi drivers will never give a foreigner a local price tag so I settled for 5 Bolivianos instead which was still cheap.

Sucre is known as the most beautiful city in South America. I can’t say much to that for it seems true with all the nice neo-classical building which seems to outshine any other city I have visited so far in South America. Still it was nowhere near the beauty of the cities in Europe.

The place is known for tours to see the dinosaur tracks imprinted on a Clift but that’s about it. I could not be bothered …. Passing by remember but good to know it’s there I guess.

The other mission I had was to find a memento for Bolivia. While researching about the border town of Pueto Quijarro they mention about a mine and about a stone called Bolivianita or the actual term Amtrine. Apparently the only mine that produce this kind of stone was in Bolivia where it is a mix of two type of crystals in colours of purple and yellow. No other mines in the world have its kind of property so I was set on a hunt to find it.

Almost could not find any bolivianita and I had to resort to scouring the internet for places to buy bolivianita in Sucre. It was still not easy even than for there was no central big souvenir market that sells it, so looking at the shop name and address I went on a hunt. Once I found the first shop that sells bolivianita, I then know what I was supposed to look for, jewellery shop the expensive kind but as small as 16 m2. So from show to shop I hunted the gemstone, and compared prices and look at the shapes and eventually bought more than I should.
Santa Cruz

If I was passing by Potosi and Sucre I was more or less just stopping for a piss break in Santa Cruz. Got off the bus just to find the cheapest hostel there is before I headed back to the train station to get a ticket the next day on the famous Death Train to Puerto Quijarro.

I was in Santa Cruz on a Sunday …. Everything was close

I did had a quick glimpse of the city which was set in rings of circle. Circle upon circle and although flat it felt worse than La Paz. Santa Cruz was warm climate and after traveling through all the high altitude, cool climate of Bolivia, suddenly you get tired just from the heat and humidity.

Out the next morning on the 18 hours journey on the Death Train to border town Puerto Quijarro.

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