We did not spend long in Santa Cruz - just long enough to meet up with our friend Evelyn and to recover from our long journey. On Tuesday we woke up and decided to leave that day. We had to pack in a bit of a rush to check out in time and store our bags for the day. We caught a micro to the bus station (thanks to some translating by Evelyn), which was considerably cheaper than a taxi at B$1.50 each. We got there at 4:30 and managed to get tickets to Sucre on a bus that would leave at 5 precisely. I thought this was a bit hopeful and in the end we pulled out of the bus station nearly two hours late.
It took about 17 hours to get to Sucre with a few stops along the way. We got a taxi from the bus station to the centre of town for B$3.00 each. As we were about to discover Sucre is much cheaper than Santa Cruz. The first hotel we went to was Residencial Bolivia and we ended up staying there for the week. We had a look at a few others during the week but didn't find anything that was as good value. It cost B$55.00 per night for a double room with a bathroom just outside. After a doze and a nap we went to the Centro Boliviano Americano to sort out our spanish lessons. We thought we might have to search around a bit to be able to start lessons the following day but it was no problem. It costs B$30.16 per hour each and we have arranged to have 4 hours of lessons a day. It will be a bit strange having a structure to our day again. We were so hungry by dinner that we went to La Repizza and shared a family sized pizza for B$45.00. Skip the rest if you don't want to know what tenses we learned and what our dinner cost each day.
Thursday 21st November
We started our spanish lessons by going over the basics such as the alphabet and numbers so our teacher could see what level we were at. We had learnt enough from a course in England to get by so far but were hoping to build on that. In the afternoon we went over the present indicative tense and she asked us to come back in the evening to finish it. In total we had 6 hours on spanish lessons today and by the end I was really tired. We also found time to visit the natural history museum in the afternoon, although it only took us 20 minutes to see everything.
Friday 22nd November
We stuck to three hours of lessons in the morning today in which we went over the preterite tense and practised a few exercises. Spent the afternoon learning verbs and catching up on some sleep. In the evening we ate at a Swiss restaurant called Arko Iris and I had more vegetables in one meal that I did in 6 weeks in Argentina. It was reasonably priced at B$21.00 for a large dish of baked mixed vegetables and a side dish of rosti. On the way back to the hotel we stopped of at a small cafe a couple of doors down from Cafe Capital. The owner is one of the friendliest people we have met so far and the cake was pretty good too.
Saturday 23rd November
Another four hours of lessons today. We concentrated on speaking and reading today. The biggest problem was our lack of imagination in making up conversations. We tried to have a bit of a night out but we were so exhausted we were back at the hotel by 9.
Sunday 24th November
We had a rest day today and went for a very late breakfast at the Cafe Kaypichu, a vegetarian restaurant. They have a good range of set breakfasts priced from B$10.00 to B$18.00 including fruit juice and a hot drink. In the afternoon we just rested at our hotel and did some of our homework.
Monday 25th November
We had a very intensive tense learning day today and got through the imperfect, conditional and future tenses. It is going to take a while to remember all the irregularities. At lunch time we walked up to the mirador where there is an impressive view over Sucre. We had lunch at the restaurant up there but the portions were pretty small. The Museo de la Recoleta is nearby, which used to be a monastry (B$8.00 per person). There are four pretty courtyards, each of which had a different purpose. In one of them there is a 1500 year old cedar tree that is absolutely massive. After lessons had finished we went to the Museo de Arte Indigena, a very interesting museum that covers the history of textile making and gives you the chance to see some of the weavers at work. There are displays of work from the different regions and information about all the strange rituals the weavers follow to try to improve their weavings. It is definitely worth paying the B$15.00 entrance fee. I had not appreciated before how complicated the weavings were - they can take up to 3 months of work. Afterwards we ate at El Germen, a vegetarian restaurant run by a German woman. We both had falafels followed by the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten (and I've tried a lot).
Tuesday 26 November
In the morning we went over the perfect compound tenses, which are fairly simple We had the afternoon off but just rested and did some homework before our evening lesson, when we looked at the subjunctive tense. This tense doesn't actually exist in English and I was expecting it to be more difficult than it was. It will probably be more difficult to think about using it in practice though. Ate at El Viaje Bodega for B$63.00 including cheese pancakes, chips, a large pizza and drinks.
Wednesday 27th November
Our last day of lessons today so we concentrated on speaking and reading. We also went over the difference between 'por' and 'para', which both mean for (amongst other things) in different circumstances. Later in the afternoon when we had just got back to our room there was an enormous storm, with the loudest thunder and lighting I have ever heard. The rainy season had arrived. We managed to sort out our bus tickets for the next day to Potosi (B$15.00) at a travel agency just down the road from our hotel.