I’m over half way through my first month in Sucre now.
It’s probably just as well I have no immediate plans to leave, since the city is in the middle of a blockade, with roads cut off both to the airport and nearby Potosi. ‘How long will the blockade last?’ I asked. ‘until they (who? I’m not sure) reach a settlement’ was the reply.
After my initial excitement that I could get lunch for around £1 ($1.50) I have been forced to conclude that maybe the hygiene in those establishments is not so great. I did think my many years living in Asia would toughen my stomach sufficiently, but apparently not. Clearly there are different parasites here. I have now moved on to paying around £3 for my lunches, in the hope that workers in these places wash their hands occasionally.
On the positive side though, you can buy cheaper versions of a lot of prescription medicines over the counter here. Nothing beats a bit of internet self-diagnosis, followed by a trip to the local farmacia.
The food is ok, but nothing special. Someone told me that you don’t see Bolivian food outside of Bolivia for good reason (i.e., it’s not very good), although this is not strictly true. I googled where can I eat Bolivian food in London? and found around four places.
The main challenge I have faced here (apart from ridiculously slow internet) is shopping. There are a number of small supermarkets (aka convenience stores), which sell mainly junk food: crisps, biscuits and drinks. Then there is one ‘large supermarket’. I use the term ‘large’ sparingly. It contains ‘basics’ and it is expensive by Bolivian standards.
Bolivians don’t use supermarkets much and prefer the time-consuming practice of using multiple small stalls to buy their stuff. You want bananas? Well you go to the woman with the bananas. Oranges? well there’s another stall for those. Shampoo? well there’s a woman with nothing but shampoos.
I have started dreaming about huge, mega supermarkets, selling everything from clothes to food to household and cosmetic goods all in one place. There’s few things I wouldn’t do right now for a nice convenient branch of Superdrug (there’s a British cultural reference for you, but you get the idea).
I still haven’t found where I can buy dental floss, or moisturiser, or cotton wool, or an array of other things that are appearing on my ever-increasing shopping list (actually I did spot dental floss once, in a pharmacy locked away in the cabinet where they put the expensive stuff they don’t want anybody to steal. I didn’t buy it because I thought ‘how expensive must it be that they have to lock it away?’ Now I can’t find that pharmacy again anyway).
Well, it’s all part of travelling they say, but this traveller is getting tired and just wants to find the things she needs in a shop somewhere.
In other news, this blog turned two years old last week. I have changed the focus a lot over the past two years. Eventually I settled on this format that is principally a journal of my travels and other things I get involved with. I have mostly abandoned social media; I resent the time it takes and the intrusion of a thousand people I don’t know sending me endless messages to read their blog/connect with them on other medias/sign up to their newsletters etc. etc; Twitter is like the annoying kid at school screaming for attention all the time.