Impressions

16 06 2009

Last night – and this morning – I’m not really feeling like making a post.  I’m doing so partly for your sakes, and mostly because I know that I’ll never have these impressions and feelings again, so I’m trying to write them down.  I don’t think I’m going to succeed very well, but I’ll try.

There are a lot of “different” things about Sucre.  I’ll mention some in random order.  Some of the stores have parking lots.  This would indicate to me that there are more people who own their cars here.  Santa Cruz is a much bigger city, and in the downtown area I’m hardly coming across any people in native, traditional dress.  In Sucre there are lots of them, Quechuas.  Even where Giovanni took me in La Paz, perhaps because we were near the market, there were lots of Aymara people.  There is a lot of poverty here all the same.  I was startled a block from the center last night to notice a man who had spread out a ragged denim jacket on a very low window sill, pillowed his head on his bag of belongings, and gone to sleep. 

I had eaten my second supper – the first was just something I’d figured out how to order in a snack shop, and I knew it wouldn’t last until morning.  Then after I’d used the internet a little while, I was tempted by a mint ice cream cone – less than 75 cents – in a fancy ice cream shop next to the plaza, and was going back to the hostal eating it.  Someone coming up the street noticed, doubled back, and asked for a coin.  I didn’t give him anything.  It was the first time I had seen an able-bodied person on his own two feet begging, and he wasn’t old at all.  But if those circumstances won’t make you feel guilty, I don’t know what would. 

Santa Cruz has shopping malls, an Osh Kosh store, and you run across American brands of candy on the street vendors’ stands.  It’s true that there are more light-skinned people here, I think. 

Late yesterday afternoon, after being here several hours, something about the atmosphere felt quite oppressive.  I think it is the change in altitude.  There also is a change in temperature; it’s probably running around 80º, but I felt kind of miserable, whatever the case.  It went away after supper.  It’s also kind of humid here.  Not humid compared to home, but my glass sweat a little bit in the café last night when I was eating pollo a la plancha (basically grilled chicken breast) and drinking a big glass of lemonade.  I didn’t realize it was so dry in Sucre, but it feels sticky humid here in the evening to me now.  They say there are mosquitoes here, but I haven’t met them.  It’s probably more of a summer thing.

I spent one night in Santa Cruz when I got here, but I was scared I would get lost if I stepped out of the glass doors of the hotel.  I was scared for a day or two in Sucre, too, but the fact is when you’re staying near the downtown area of a city here – near the plaza which is called the “heart” of the town – you just can’t get lost.  It’s like “all roads lead to Rome.”  And here people are friendly enough you wouldn’t mind asking for directions.  But that would so take the fun out of it.  I went out this morning to buy some more camera memory.  I just pretty much walk, maybe around a block, and there isn’t anything, so I head off in a new direction, and probably circle a block, and so on.  That’s why it took me forever to find a place to eat yesterday afternoon, besides the fact that places close when there isn’t much business.  I’m guessing they take the siesta pretty seriously here.  And I left the hostal at 8:30 this morning and nothing was open. 

Anyway, I finally stopped in at a place that sold print cartridges and asked about camera memory.  The lady there actually volunteered the information that I could find it a couple of blocks away.  I found a store that gave me a fair price on it, I believe.  Culture shock again – They wanted to give me a receipt for my money!  They even had a computer, but they made the receipt out by hand.  They asked me to sit down, and as I was waiting I commented, “In Sucre they don’t give receipts.”  The lady laughed at that, and started asking where I was from, how long I was there, and the ever-constant question, “Did you like Bolivia?”  It’s one I’m able to answer honestly.  They tried really hard to get me to go down to the Centro Boliviano Americano and get hired to teach English in Bolivia several months out of the year. 

Today, if I ever finish with the preliminaries, I mean to go out to Biocentro Guembé and spend the day there. It looks fascinating, although I have a feeling that this isn’t the best time of year to go.  But I don’t have many options.  And if I’m ever going to make it out there, I had better get off of the computer.

As mentioned above, this post is as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s.  So I hope you’re not bored by it, and I won’t send out a general email announcing it.

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