After a whirlwind few days exploring Salar de Uyuni, getting stranded in a tiny town and an unexpected stop in somewhat dilapidated Oruro we finally arrived in Sucre via Potosi. We had booked ourselves into Casa Verde for the festive season, I was looking forward to some quiet and uneventful days.
Our last Christmas away from home turned into a bit of a disaster; without internet I struggled to call home and was desperately homesick. Craig and I had an argument about something so laughably petty, but the emotional stress of the day blew it all out of proportion and we didn't speak for several hours. Eventually we realised how silly we'd been and had a picnic on the beach, I got to speak to my mum and all was well. Despite the happy end I didn't want a repeat of that day and so made sure we'd have internet to call home and a kitchen to prepare a lovely dinner to make being away bearable.
Casa Verde was beautiful. We had a huge double bed in a private room with hardwood floors and an en suite. The courtyard garden featured a small undercover pool, sun loungers and a variety of pretty pots filled with plants in bloom. The kitchen was like something from a country living magazine, Belfast sinks, a huge cooker and a beautiful central wooden table.
We spent Christmas Eve and the day before at the Central Market buying supplies for our festive feast. We decided to attempt to make a fruit crumble for pudding on Christmas Day and so bought the various ingredients from stall holders and the supermarket. We watched Miracle on 34th Street to try and get into the Christmas spirit, outside it was hot and so completely different to home.
On Christmas Day I woke up super early to call my mum, speaking to her was all I needed to make the day a happy one. I spoke to my little brother too and exchanged messages with my cousin Lily. I agreed to call again later in the day so that I could FaceTime my grandparents and family. After a relaxed morning we started work on our Christmas dinner, or as close as we could get to one with the ingredients we could find. After much Googling we made vegetarian gravy completely from scratch to go with our pile of roast potatoes and veggies. We didn't have scales to measure anything but our apple and cherry crumble with cinnamon looked pretty decent too.
We sat in the courtyard garden shaded from the hot sun and enjoyed our dinner. The crumble with ice cream was a triumph and I was so pleased that our day away from home was going well. Craig FaceTimed his family and I had a long chat with my Dad and FaceTimed my family too. The evening was spent watching films, playing games and stuffing our faces with Pringles and chocolate, just as it would have happened in the U.K.
We enjoyed our down time at Casa Verde but unfortunately couldn't afford to stay for the entirety of our time in Sucre. We moved just down the road to the Spanish School which was incredibly cheap. Our first of ten lessons took place on December 28th with the lovely Shirley. We went in knowing just a few Spanish words and could only count to about five. By day ten we could count upwards of 100, knew colours, days of the week and a whole load of new vocabulary. We took our new language skills to the market and immediately noticed that we got better prices by using Spanish and it was also a lot more fun.
We'd spend our days having a two hour lesson in the morning and then wander the pretty 'White City' in the afternoon. It felt more like we were citizens of the town than tourists, we were never in a hurry anywhere and milked the concept of 'slow travel'. It was so refreshing and in complete contrast to the rest of our travels, both backpacking and trips closer to home. We never go on holidays where you do nothing for days on end so this was a complete change for us.
Apart from a visit to Santa Clara convent and an evening at a traditional Bolivian dance show our two weeks in Sucre were blissfully quiet. Wandering, cinnamon tea, café stops and shopping at the market were our daily rituals.
While we had plenty of time to think and reflect we decided to change our plans somewhat. After four months of purposefully not planning too far ahead we decided to do the opposite and make some plans that would hopefully help us see more of the world in our year away. We thought about what we really wanted to see and do and decided that we really wanted to see some of Central America and India.
After a conversation with my mum and brother we decided to fit in a week in New York, my favourite city and meet them there. Flying directly from South and Central America to India was very expensive and involved long lay overs in various places. Combining a week in New York worked out the same price for us, and who wouldn't want to include the best city on earth in their trip?
We spent a stressful day booking flights from Mexico to New York and from New York to India. I booked the flights for my mum and brother and an Airbnb in Brooklyn for us all to share. We'd given ourselves just four full months to get to Cancun in Mexico, the challenge gave us a new sense of excitement and anticipation for what was ahead.
On our last day at the Spanish School we had our lessons and went out for ice cream with Shirley. As we left Sucre with our backpacks on the sun was setting; the city sky glowed pink. It was a beautiful end to our two weeks as guests in the 'White City'.
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