I finally made it to Sucre yesterday after a nice, short 3 hour bus ride. I met a German girl in my hostel, and she was going to Sucre as well for the New Year, so we traveled together. We got to Sucre and searched around for a hostel, and I ended up at an Alojomiento (pretty much rooms in someone´s house). It was the cheapest I found and am paying 80 bolivianos for 3 nights, a little more than $10. I am happy to find something cheap, especially since a lot of places will raise their prices for New Year´s Eve.
Sucre is a pretty beautiful city. It´s known as the Ciudad Blanca, or White City. Almost all of the buildings in the center are white, and there are a bunch of really nice churches and plazas. Today I had lunch with the German girl and some other people we met (3 guys from Brazil, and a girl from Minnesota). After that, I saw a German guy I met in Potosi, and I walked around the city with him and a guy from Austria. Last night, I met 2 girls who studied in Newcastle, Australia which is where I studied for a semester almost 3 years ago. It was funny to know people in common with them who lived in the same dorm as me. The world is small.
I have been traveling for almost a month now, and I must say that I love it. There are many things that I love about traveling, and a few that I don´t like.
To start out with things that I don´t like. It´s difficult to continually meet and then leave people. You start to have a connection with someone, and then you go off on your seperate ways. In many places, it is difficult to meet people. If you aren´t staying in a hostel with a bunch of people, it´s very challenging (at least for me) to be able to meet people outside in restaurants, bars, wherever. I loved being in Potosi because I probably met and talked to at least 25 people within a few days. However, now that I am in Sucre and in a not-so-hostel place, it´s difficult. The German girl is staying in a proper hostel, so I am kind of mooching off of her to meet people there. I also really like to meet local people, and this is extremely difficult when there is now Couchsurfing. I also don´t like the time of searching for hostels. Carrying around bags and asking for prices in 5 or 10 places gets tiring very fast. Luckily I only have to do this once every 3 days or so on average.
Now for the good things. I absolutely love the freedom I have. It´s by far the most freedom I have ever had, and it´s a great feeling. Most of the time I have a general plan, but it often changes on how I am feeling. For example, I was thinking about going through Paraguay to get to Argentina, but it ended up being too much of a hastle to get a visa so I changed my route. In no way will the new route be worse, just different. I have also added a new destination for a bit later in my trip that I hadn´t included before (but more on that later). But just think of the freedom you have when traveling with sufficient time…if you don´t like a city, you can jump on the next bus out of town. If you like you a city, you can stay for a month. If you don´t like a country, leave it and the next one will probably be better. You can take it easy and read a book in the plaza for the day, or you can go bike down the most dangerous road in the world. It´s incredible to be able to control your life to that extent.
Next reason is meeting people. Travelers are almost always up for meeting new people. That´s a huge part of traveling. And depending on where you´re at, you will meet different people as well. I haven´t met many Americans at all in Bolivia, but traveling in Europe you will meet a ton. I have met several Colombians, Brazilians, Argentines, and other South Americans, which you won´t find as much in Europe. I haven´t met many Asians or Africans in South America, but of course you will meet many in the US and Europe. You can learn something from everyone, and everyone has their own story. Maybe they are driving motorcycles from Alaska to the south of South America. Maybe they are taking a gap year between high school and college. Maybe they´re having a midlife crisis and sold everything and are traveling or living in South America. Maybe they are taking off time from work. Everyone has their own story, and it´s always interesting.
Finally, I love the adventure of it all. No day is ever the same. One day, I might be in La Paz, the next in the jungle swimming with dolphins, followed by touring a mine. Something interesting will happen every day (which is why I am able to write so much now in this blog). It´s constant exploration of new cities, new activities, new experiences, and new people. It´s not going to the office 5 days a week, coming back to cook dinner and watch tv or read every night. Then on weekends do something new (or the same). Every day while traveling is an adventure in itself. There are a lot of highs and a lot of lows (mainly when feeling a bit lonely). For me, the highs are extremely high, like the jungle tours, bike rides, meeting new friends, and the lows are just annoyances or even just funny (feeling lonely, searching for hostels). I have even turned a lot of what would be lows to taking it all in for funny stories (See the post about kids peeing in buses and naked babies laying on my sweatshirt on my seat). These are all just part of the ride that I have absolutely loved so far.
I have realized that I have a huge advantage when traveling with my lack of pickiness. Whether it´s food, hostels, or whatever else, I am not on the picky side. For example, most of the local restaurants have set menus for lunch and dinner. I absolutely love eating here. They will always say what they are serving, but sometimes I don´t understand and I hardly ever care. About 90% of the time, I enjoy it. I have come to accept places that have cold food and most people wouldn´t set foot in. I never ask questions, just eat what they bring me and enjoy it. This is an advantage of the amount I am spending, since these restaurants are usually half the price of other restaurants. For example of why it´s an advantage, I went with a British couple to a local place in Rurrenabaque. It was such a different experience with them. They were asking many questions and didn´t completely understand. Overall, they weren´t really that comfortable with the place and ended up not liking the food much. I doubt they will go back to local restaurants. Also, after living at the house in Peru for 2 months, I can take almost anything. When searching for hostels in Sucre with the German girl, I liked the one that I am staying at and thought it wasn´t bad. She didn´t like it at all so she is paying almost 50% more to stay at a place sharing a room with 7 other people while I have my own room. Needless to say, I got a nice, uninterupted 10 hour sleep last night while she was woken up at 7am by others moving around in the room. In my opinion, it´s a great advantage!
I am often debating whether selling my computer was the right move. Right now, I think it was the right thing to do for a number of reason. I don´t have to worry about it getting stolen, and now I just have my camera and lens and passport to really worry about. Having a computer sitting in my bag seems ripe for the pickings for anyone looking to take something. I am also happy for the fact that I just don´t have a computer. If I did have a computer, it would be much easier to be more closed and just sit in my room. It provides a lot of entertainment, but would cause me to not experience as much in the cities. However, the down fall is that I don´t have a computer, so I don´t write as much as maybe I would if I did have one (but I think I do update the blog many times from internet cafes). It would be nice to have my own music once in a while, and I would be able to watch movies on the computer. But I think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, so I am happy with my decision.
That´s all for today. Hope every has a good night and I will post again tomorrow. Go Hawkeyes!