Sucre: The Shelbyville of Bolivia


July 27, 2012 by Leah

After our four-day, three-night tour of the Salar de Uyuni and other amazing high-altitude landscapes*, after three nights of sleeping in sub-zero temperatures and using “baños naturales,” Tali and I needed some serious R&R. We had booked a hotel room–yes, an actual HOTEL room–at the Hostal De Su Merced, one of the nicer hotels in Sucre.

*We´ll blog about the Uyuni tour once we can upload photos.

Of course, getting from Uyuni (where the tour finished) to Sucre was no easy feat since it was Sunday and the normal bus wasn´t running. For a significant fee, our Jeep driver from the Uyuni tour agreed to take us to Potosi (a three-to-four hour drive). From there we took a taxi the rest of the way to Sucre. The taxi was about three hours as well. By the time we arrived in Sucre at around 8 p.m., we were exhausted. And, after four-days, three-nights in the Bolivian wilderness, we were absolutely giddy to have the most basic human comforts.



“We have a minifridge!”

“OMG a TV!”

Basically, we went from “baños naturalezas” to padded toilet seats in less than 12 hours and we were ecstatic.

The next morning we took extra-long hot showers and dried off with our CLEAN TOWELS and went down the hall for breakfast. When I say “breakfast,” I mean a classy, breakfast buffet with fresh squeezed orange and carrot juices, egg and bacon scramble, cakes, crepes, granola, fresh fruit and basically everything our hungry hearts desired. (After barely eating for a week due to food poisoning and other stomach issues, this was the perfect place to get my appetite back).

When we left the hotel, the first thing we saw was graffiti on the white wall across the street. It read:

“Potosi es Springfield. Entonces, Sucre is Shelbyville.”

(Or, in English: “Potosi is Springfield. Therefore, Sucre is Shelbyville.”)

And oh my goodness, was this ever true.

(If you´re confused, you haven´t watched enough of The Simpsons.)

Potosi, the mining city at 4,090 meters (the highest city in the world) is not exactly “nice.” The miners there work under pretty terrible conditions and mining is the city´s only tourist “attraction.” Historically, the folks that got rich off the silver mines in Potosi used that money to build Sucre, located at the much more pleasant altitude of 2,750 meters.

Sucre is lovely. The buildings are all white and Spanish colonial style. The parks and plazas are lush and green with trees and fowers and statues. There were people walking around in suits. It´s clean, and compared to the other spots we´ve visited so far in Bolivia, Sucre is warm.

Our favorite part was the Mercado Central, or Central Market. This was three stories of fresh fruits and vegetables, butchers, bread sellers, gelatin stands, and these incredible fruit stalls that served freshly-made juices, milkshakes, and fruit salads that looked like something out of a food magazine.


The third floor was crowded with food stalls–people cooking traditional Bolivian dishes on a few burners and selling it for super cheap.

In the two days we were in Sucre, we ate 3 traditional meals, 4 milkshakes, 1 fruit salad, and 1 gelatin treat with this delicious citrus whipped cream at the Central Mercado. We regret nothing.

We climbed to the top of the San Felipe Nery church to watch the sunset over the city. We went shopping and added a pair of jeans (Tali) and an extra t-shirt (Leah) to our wardrobes. We ate Chinese food. We visited a museum of creepy folk masks. We ate more hotel breakfast buffet. Tali got a great haircut. We sat in the central plaza and relaxed, watching kids sell birdseed to other kids to feed the pigeons.


I was sad to leave Shelbyville, er, Sucre. It´s definitely my favorite of the cities we´ve visited so far.


2 thoughts on “Sucre: The Shelbyville of Bolivia

  1. Yulia says:

    so, this is week three and from the sounds of it, you two are having a great time, all the temperature and other challenges nonwithstanding. I am going off to the relative peace and warmth and quiet of Cape Cod and will not be able to read your blog but plan to have my own vacation away from civilization experience. Have a great time, I will catch up on everything as soon as I can.
    Love you, keep on writing, this is a great idea and makes us part of your trip almost in real time. Lag for deserts and internet taken into account.

  2. Andrea says:

    Ahhh sucre!!! I miss it. I’ve been there two times and reading your blog and seeing pictures brought back the memories!! Hope you are having a blast traveling I’m soo jealous!

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