Monthly Archives: November 2013

StanStone The App for Great Travellers

ATTENTION BACKPACKERS!!stanstone

There is a cool new backpacking traveler App that has just been launched here in Sucre. I really like the concept these guys have going. The app allows you to search other users in your current location. So if you arrive in a certain city and the hostel you are staying in is not very sociable, you can connect with other users and potentially meet new friends.

You can also share pictures of your current location, write your current news and share your travel journal. I really think this app has the potential to enhance the backpacker experience, all it need is a bit of support to get it out there.

Here is what the developers say. “Connect and follow all travelers in the world according to your position and travel style. Build & share your travel guide with useful tips thanks to a camera specially designed and easy to use. Give daily news to your friends/family stayed at home…”

So if you have an I Phone then download the app from the Apple app store now and spread the word and connect to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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Six Weeks In Sucre

So, I have just celebrated my sixth week in Bolivia’s capital, Sucre. You may ask why I have spent 6 weeks in the same place when there is so much more to see in this incredible continent. The answer is simple. Its comfy and a hell of a lot of fun. The hostel I am ‘living’ at (Wasi Masi) is a magnet for social behavior and I have been lucky enough to meet some amazing people. I had originally decided to stay here for a month while I took Spanish classes, but I just could n’t bare to leave this city and my Sucre crew. Another reason for my prolonged stay is the same reason what keeps all good guys in a place for longer than they anticipated. A great girl!! Sucre has become one of my favourite places in Latin America, possibly the world!

Caspar, Me, Arnaud

Caspar, Me, Arnaud

During my time here I have attended a rock concert with one of Mexico’s biggest bands, ‘Molotov’. I have been to watch the local football team, ‘Universitario’ smash one of the best teams in Bolivia, ‘The strongest’. I gate crashed a Bolivian student party with my fellow Sucre crew members. I risked my life watching the annual Sucre street race. I spent an incredible day with awesome people visiting the 7 waterfalls site. And just yesterday I randomly saw Bolivian president Evo Morales giving a speech in the main Plaza. All this mixed with some incredible party nights in my favourite haunts ‘Cafe Florin’ and ‘Mitos’ and the generally awesome weather has made it near on impossible for me to leave.

The Sucre Crew

Caspar: Caspar is probably my best mate here in Sucre. He is a fellow long termer and has just celebrated his 5th week here. He is from the German speaking part of Switzerland. We have shared many a good times and he can always make me laugh with his Borat style accent.

Arnaud: Arnaud is French. He has been in Sucre for a month. Together with Caspar and myself we form the 3 amigos. He had planned to buy a bicycle here in Sucre and cycle down to Ushuaïa. But he has been another victim of Sucre’s charm and just can’t leave.

German Mike: German Mike owns a popular hostel here in Sucre. I met him at the bar in Florin. I would meet him here at the same place every night. He closed his hostel for renovations 6 months ago. He was having too much fun partying to re open it. He is a really cool guy and even though he is fluent in Spanish, he still sounds extremely German when he speaks the language.

English Dave: I also met English Dave in Cafe Florin. He was cycling around South America. He arrived in Sucre a few months ago with a shoulder injury and has been here since. He has recently missed his flight back home to the Uk. He can be found trying to improve his moves in the many places here giving Salsa lessons. He introduced me to Marion.

Taso: Taso is from Toronto, Canada. He spent just over 2 weeks here in Sucre, while he partied and learnt Spanish. If it was n’t for his smooth intervention I may not of ended up getting to know Marion.

Nick & Stav: Two really cool American guys who got the whole Wasi Masi crew going. They were here for 2 weeks volunteering at the hostel. On the first night they organised a really nice bbq, and it was here I met Caspar.

Josh: Another fellow Englishman and long termer. Josh has been studying Spanish here for a month. He cooked me an awesome English roast one night and my stomach still craves another!

Dara: I met Dara on my first day here in Sucre while watching England vs Montenegro in Florin. He’s from Ireland and I still remember one of the first things he said to me. “I hope England qualify, because then I have 31 other teams to support in the world cup”. He lives here and has a Bolivian girlfriend and daughter. He his currently opening a hostel here.

Anton: Anton is a musician from London. He has been travelling for 3 years with his German girlfriend. He was in Sucre for 2 months while he wrote and recorded new music. I met him on my first day here in Florin watching the England game.

The Concert

One of Mexico’s most famous rock bands were headlining a ‘free’ concert in the city. I use the term ‘free’ loosely because it was n’t entirely the case. You had to exchange a child’s toy for a ticket wrist band. Apparently the toys would be given out to under privileged children at Christmas. I have my doubts though, this is Bolivia after all! I decided to buy a pretty cool illuminating yo-yo. However once I arrived at the ticket exchange I was told “No, Mas Grande”. In other words my toy was not thought to be a big enough gesture. Obviously there was a stall right outside selling bigger gifts at inflated prices. I decided to purchase a rather cheap and tacky plastic football. Strangely this was acceptable to the ticket dispenser and I was granted my wrist band.

The concert was outdoor. The weather had taken a turn for the worse and the night was a bit chilly. The music was n’t really my cup of tea. It was quite heavy rock but I still enjoyed seeing the locals jump around and go literally crazy to every song Molotov played.

The Football Game

A few of us from the hostel went to watch the local team play. Universitario were the under dogs to La Paz’s The Strongest. When we entered the stadium we opted for the safe seats on the corner. Here is where families sat and chatted through out the game. It lacked atmosphere and I was quite jealous of all the people stood in the hardcore end behind the goal, jumping and cheering at every opportunity. Luckily Cesar who worked in the hostel arrived and suggested we should move up with the real fans. This was quite an experience, there was a band, fire crackers and huge banner the completely covered all of us and even a local dog who had come to cheer on his team.

Under the huge banner

Under the huge banner

The game finished 4-2 to Universitario and was full of incidents. There were 2 penalties, a red card and one of the funniest incidents I have witnessed ever at a football match. The opposition goalkeeper assaulted the ball boy because he would not throw back the ball. He slapped him then kicked him in the nuts. This stopped the game for some 10 minutes while players, coaching staff and club officials all clashed with one another. The standard of the football was poor at best and the only similar standard I can relate it to is that of Portsmouth FC.

Universitario vs The Strongest

Universitario vs The Strongest

The Student Party

I was walking through the main Plaza one evening when I came across a noisy drunken street parade. It was a huge group of students, playing instruments and dressed up in fancy dress. They were celebrating the end of term and marching the street before their big party. We asked where the party was, and then rounded up a few other gringos and later crashed the party.20131126-163816.jpg

The party was in a massive hall and was completely packed full of drunken students. There was a dj playing the standard cheesy commercial dance music that every other bar plays in Bolivia. But it was good fun. The funniest moment was when a group of about 10 Bolivian guys were battling for the attention of 3 of the girls that were part of our group. They surrounded them like a pack of hungry Hyenas, all trying to delivering their best chat up lines pushing each other out of the way in the process. I would like to say they had some success, but I guess a drunk group of young skinny Bolivian boys just did not appeal to the girls.

The Street Race

This has been a real highlight of my stay here. Caspar, Arnaud and myself were walking back from our favourite hangover recovery place, Cafe Mirrador when we came across closed streets and a big police presence. We were told by an officer that there was a street race and we were actually at the finish line and the cars were due anytime. Of course we had to stick around and see it. It can only be best described as treacherous. In any western country there would be tough safety measures in place. Barriers, marshals and paramedics would be visible. But this is Bolivia, and only a handful of Police were evident. They gave a series of whistles to warn the spectators when the cars were approaching at speeds of 60/70 mph. Some diced with death by standing in the middle of the road, only moving once the car was visible. The risk of a serious accident was extremely high, but like I said. THIS IS BOLIVIA!

Street race

Street race

It was an awesome thing to see up so close. And the risk of danger only enhanced the experience. The unbelievable noise of the engines echoing around the tightly compact streets and the odor of the burning rubber made it an unforgettable experience.

The 7 Cascadas

My girl, Marion who also happens to be a tour guide offered to take a few of us to the 7 waterfalls which is located just outside of Sucre. It was a half hour bus and another 30 minute hike to the site. None of us knew what we were getting ourselves into. Once we arrived at the site Marion showed us the first pool we could swim in, with an option to jump from a 15 foot rock. But the only way to reach the rock was to scale the treacherous rock face. I love jumping from high points into water but me being a bit of a pussy when it comes to climbing and heights, decided to give it a miss this time.

The first pool at 7 Cascadas

The first pool at 7 Cascadas

It was time to move onto the next pool. To my horror she told us the only way to reach the next pool was to scale the exact rock face which I had early decided “no way”. Marion was first to go, climbing it with ease just like Lara Croft would do. We all managed to get to the top, helping each other on the way. This was my first experience of rock climbing, and probably my last! To get to the other pools more climbing was required.

Me and Marion at 7 Cascadas

Me and Marion at 7 Cascadas

But it was worth it. The natural pools were beautiful and a dip in the green colored water was truly refreshing in the baking afternoon sun. The only problem was to get back we had to negotiate the same rock faces we had early climbed up. We all made it down unscathed and all agreed it was an awesome day.

El President

I was truly fortunate to witness this event. The night previous I had been walking across the Plaza and noticed one of the main roads was closed to traffic and it was filled with brand new Police vehicles. A security guard told us the Chuquisaca Department had be given a brand new fleet of Toyota Hilux’s by the Bolivian Government.

Evo Morales and the Bolivian Government

Evo Morales and the Bolivian Government

The next day I was taking an early morning stroll across the plaza when I noticed a stage was now constructed next to the new patrol cars. A crowd was slowly gathering and an announcement over the PA system informed that the president’s arrival would be imminent. An hour and 15 minutes later Senor Evo Morales finally arrived to a ecstatic chants of “EVO, EVO” from his loyal supporters. The national anthem followed with passionate fists raised as they bellowed out their national song. There were lots of handshaking and embracing. Various officials took it in turns to address the crowd and tell the president what a good job he was doing. I’ll be honest, I never actually got to see Senor Morales speak because I was quite frankly bored with the draw out process. It was still a pretty cool thing to see though.

So, there is a round up of my time in Sucre. I am still here and I am still not sure when I will leave. Has anyone else stayed longer in a place than they originally intended while travelling. If so where and why?

October

What Happened in October (26/09/13 – 31/10/13)

So, I have been away just over a month, 36 days to be precise and thought it was time to share a little summary of my adventure so far. I have traveled from Lima in Peru all the way to Sucre in Bolivia where I am currently studying Spanish for the next few weeks or so. I whizzed through Peru fairly quickly as I have traveled through most of the country on my previous visits and I wanted to squeeze in a months worth of Spanish classes here in beautiful Sucre. I am seriously in love with this city, Bolivia’s capital. I have made a bar my local and have made various Ex Pat friends here and will be truly sad when I finally have to move on. I am already planning on coming back here next year and making this my base while I wait out for the World Cup! So here are few stats.

Countries visited: Peru, Bolivia

Places visited: Peru- Lima, Cuzco, Puno.

Bolivia- Copacabana, Isla del Sol, La Paz, Sucre

Total Distance Traveled: 1544km / 959 miles

Distance Traveled by air: 992km / 616 miles

Distance Traveled on bus: 459km / 285 miles

Distance Traveled by boat: 93km / 58 miles

What I Spent

Peru: £212.33  7 day s =£30 a day

Bolivia: £752.49 29 days = £25.95 a day

Total Spent: £964.82 36 days = £26.80 a day

What I Listened To

3 Most Played Tunes: 

  1. “Black Gold” by The Foals
  2. “Cassius” by The Foals
  3. “Only Love” by Ben Howard

What I Have Been Watching: The Walking Dead Seasons 1-3

What Have I Been Reading: “Cloud Road” by John Harrison

Best Part: Discovering the magic of Sucre and all the very cool people I have met here. I really think I could live here..

Worst Part: Getting sick from the altitude and bad grub. Flying from sea level to 11000ft is not a good idea and I was ill for about a week.

Funniest Moment: While watching a Bolivian soccer game, Universitario vs The Strongest, a ball boy was time wasting and refused to give the ball back to the opposition goalkeeper. The goalkeeper snatched the ball back, squared up to the boy, slapped him then kicked him in the nuts through the advertisement boards. Definitely the best thing I have seen at a footy game!

Universitario vs The Strongest

Universitario vs The Strongest

Favourite Drink: Cubre Libre

The Beer I Drank Most: Huari (Bolivia)

Favourite Bar: Cafe Florin (Sucre, Bolivia)

Favourite Club: Mitos (Sucre, Bolivia)

Favourite Hostel: Wasi Masi (Sucre, Bolivia)

So there is my first 5 weeks of travel. It sounds a lot of money that I have spent but that is including 80 hours worth of one on one Spanish lessons so I don’t think its too bad. I have been living it up to, eating out most nights and partying quite a bit.

My Favourite Photo:

Sunset on Lake Titicaca

Sunset on Lake Titicaca

Whats Next?

I finish my Spanish classes on 08/11/13. I will leave Sucre the next day and head to Uyuni to hopefully to the 3-4 day Salar de Uyuni tour and finish up in Tupiza. I then plan to head into Argentina to Salta and then hopefully go to Buenos Aires for a night or two to meet an old friend. Then I will go to Mendoza to see my 2 good Argentinian friends and drink a hell of a lot of wine! I will then have to rush down to the south of Chile where I will start work in a hostel for 3 months. Next month is going to be quite hectic.