This past week, I've been on vacation with my family in Sucre! It is such a beautiful city, amazing architecture, clean... I swear I was destined for an exchange in this city. It's the city of four names, one of them being the White city because all the buildings downtown are painted white. We've done possibly every touristy thing in this town, but it's quite interesting! OMG I'm learning on my exchange ;)
It was hectic trying to get here, because of the weather. It took us over four delayed and cancelled flights, over two days to get here. Apparently, since there are a ton of mountains here, it's difficult to land in Sucre. To add onto that, there was pretty crappy weather in Sucre, which makes it pretty much impossible to land here. But by Sunday afternoon, we got here! I started to realize that I was getting to finally see Bolivia for real. A lot of farming, rural area with brick housing, and the amount of indiginous folk. Walking out of the airport, to 13° weather (brrrrrr) the first thing I noticed were the amount of beggars here. A bunch of kids came up asking ¿regaleme plata? which means, give me money.
This city, since it's one of the capitals of Bolivia, is hugly touristy. There are a lot of tourist agencies (one of which we took a tour around the city with). There are also a TON of gringos here. A lot of the signs in stores are written in English, Spanish, French and German. Very multilingual here. Also, since there are a lot of tourists, there are a ton of vegetarian options for me here.
Since it's such a tourist town, that's what my family has been doing over the past week. I swear that I have hit up every museum, monument and sightseeing thing that there is to see in Sucre. I've seen the dinosaur tracks (it's a giant mountain of what looks like shale, and dinosaur footprints walking up it), went to indigenous art museums, lookout points. I've been on the roofs of two buildings, one being a church and the other being el colegio Don Bosco (the same school as my brothers' in Santa Cruz). I never thought that I would be so intrigued by museum tours, but they've all been really interesting.. And in spanish as well!!
I went to a castle the other day as well, which was really interesting. It was the strangest style though, mixing english, french, oriental, arabic, byzentine plus other styles of architechture, so it ended up looking slightly like a big eclectic looking castle. Part of the castle used to be painted using animal blood, and is now a natural history museum filled with stuffed animals... how ironic?
I've also been to the first, and largest cemetary in Bolivia. It was crazy huge, full of mausoleums and crypts. Lots of presidents and famous liberators had been burried there over a hundred years ago. I had an interesting conversation with my family while we were at the cemetary. My host dad asked me what they usually do when someone dies, if they cremate them (he actually used the word incinerate) which I said that more people have been doing that lately than burrials. My brother then kind of piped in, asking what "incineration" was.. And my dad said when they burn people. He was so weirded out by the concept, and I was very surprised to hear that NO ONE does that here.. I mean, my brother had never even heard of the process before. Then my father asked what they do, ceremonially, when someone dies. I tried to explain a funeral (in my lack of spanish vocabulary).. which he then proceded to explain about how they hold a 24 hr wake etc, the normal catholic procedure. It was interesting, some culteral exchange!
The hard thing about being in Sucre is their accent. Being in Scz, you get used to their lazy way of speaking, dropping the S's at the end of most of their words. Arriving here, I had a bit of a difficulty understanding what the Sureños were saying. Ethan, an exchange student living in Sucre, said the exact same thing about my family and their camba accents.
Been going out a lot, to eat and drink and stuff. I am spending so much money! But Ethan says to justify it by saying I'm on vacation, which I guess I can do. The other night, we were in the cafe, up these really steep stairs.. And for the people that know how clumsy I am, I should've realized that this was a bad idea. I was climbing down them, saying "Dude, I am totally going to biff it down these stairs.." and I fell... flat on my ass, down half the flight of stairs. It didn't help that my sandals had no grip whatsoever on them... I was just sitting there at the bottom of the stairs and everyone in the cafe was staring at me. I looked up at Ethan, and he was crying he was laughing so hard. Now I have a HUGE bruise on my butt, and it hurts to sit down hahaha.
But most importantly, being here with my family has been the best experience of all. I'm not only forced to be speaking completely in spanish, but also learning a ton about my parents and two brothers that came on the trip (Christian couldn't come because he had to work). I've learned that my dad has a very strange sense of humor.. and a horrible sense of direction. My host mom also has a bad sense of direction (they've started calling me their guide, because I can find my way back to the hotel). She is the easiest to talk to, out of my whole family and I think it's because she understands my spanish the best. I've also learned that she loves flowers, and planty type things. I found out that I get along really well with Alan, and that he's a super sweet kid. Oliver has the strangest eating habits out of anyone I've met. He wants to be a big buff soccer player, yet refuses to eat ANY form of fruits or vegetables. He drinks some special power drink every morning, and thinks this is the road to success haha. One day he will learn.
Tomorrow I am meeting up with the rest of the exchange students, and starting on my trip around Bolivia (payed for by Rotary). It's a 10 day trip, around the main cities in Bolivia and I will let you know how it goes when I get back to Santa Cruz on the 19th!