Down to Warmth


This blog entry about the events of Thursday, January 22, 2004 was originally posted on January 24, 2004.

DAY 96: At 13,353 ft. ASL, Potosi not only has its cold nights, it has its cold days too.  As I typed away in an internet cafe after my complimentary breakfast, it was so cold I had to wear my woolen hat indoors — I wished I had some gloves.

ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH, so I hopped on a bus bound for Sucre, Bolivia’s real judicial capital (La Paz is merely the de facto capital), at a much lower altitude — and much warmer climate.  After a three-hour bus ride down the Cordillera de Chichas mountain range, I found myself at the bus terminal of the much sunnier capital city.  The temperature was still a bit chilly, but warm enough for palm trees to exist in town (picture above).

A taxi took me to the main Plaza 25 de Mayo where I eventually got a decent hostel two blocks away.  They assigned me to a dorm with four beds, but I had the room all to myself.  I killed a couple of hours catching up on Blog duties in an internet cafe where there was no escape from 80s pop music.  In fact, everywhere I went in town — cafes, shops and pizzerias — played the likes of Toto’s “Rosanna” and Information Society’s “Walking Away.”

EIGHTIES POP SONGS DIDN’T DOMINATE the capital city though; as I walked through the Plaza 25 de Mayo that night, a free concert was set up by the government of Sucre.  A twelve-man ensemble — three flautists and nine acoustic string instrumentalists — took position on a makeshift stage to play traditional Bolivian tunes.  All the locals seemed to recognize the tunes because they clapped to the rhythm in all the appropriate sections.  I was quite impressed with the woodwind/acoustic performance; usually I only heard traditional songs on a tape or CD, but it was totally amazing when I saw it live and realized the concentration needed to keep twelve guys play in harmony.

The concert in the plaza was some sort of Bolivian cultural awareness concert, because after the twelve men played a variety of tunes, they were followed by two dancers that danced the traditional Cueca dance — a sensual routine in which a man and woman twirled around handkerchiefs as a form of courtship.  The dance was followed by the third and final performing group, the Bolivian military band, which played a couple of numbers that sounded like they belonged in a funeral procession in Sicily.  Things picked up with them when, out of the blue, they switched from depressing marches to a brass rendition of “Morena de Mi Coraz?n,” the song made popular by Antonio Banderas and Los Lobos at the beginning of 1995’s Desperado.

IT WAS ONLY ABOUT NINE O’CLOCK when the free government-sponsored concert finished.  With the power of The Blog, I managed to track down Sam and Zoe, whom I met on my tour of the Bolivian salt flats and desert.  I met them at Bibliocafe, a small but crowded pub near the main plaza.  They filled me in on their past couple of unproductive sick days — Zoe had food poisoning and Sam had an eye infection.  They were glad to be better and out again for their first “real” day out in Sucre.

The live band at the cafe was only up to the par of a high school garage band, so we left after a couple of drinks to a salsa club — the vibe there wasn’t great either.  We ended up spending the rest of the night at Joyride, a Belgian-run pub that called itself “possibly the best bar in town.”  This was probably true because Sam and Zoe had been there four times since they got into Sucre.  We sat at a table in the outdoor back patio until the early morning, chatting over drinks, garlic bread and nachos served with guacamole (which Zoe calls “Guatamala sauce”).  We reminisced about our trip to the salt flats and continued our inside jokes of the couple we knew as “Mr. Lilliput and Gulliver.”

After being in the cold temperatures of high mountain cities for three days, it was great to come down to the warmth of a new city — and of familiar faces.

Next entry: Kids in the Park

Previous entry: Loogeys in Potosi

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Comments for “Down to Warmth”

  • holy crap!!! am i really first? sorry everyone. enjoying your trip eric. keep the reading material coming. this is just like being with you.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/24  at  09:34 PM

  • EDWIN:  Thanks man… I try to write it so people see what I see, hear what I hear, get sick when I get sick…  otherwise you could just look up information in a guidebook or on the net.  Thanks, and continue to pass the word around!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/24  at  09:36 PM

  • NO!  Not Captain Kangaroo!  :(

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/24  at  10:34 PM

  • i see you are reading the news now. yeah, the captain is gone. never watched that show though when i was a kid. how come out government never gives concerts? though i wouldn’t want to go to any concert that the bush administration is giving. speaking of concerts, i am going to see iron maiden on tuesday. i can’t wait. =) too bad pantera broke up, cause i always wanted to see them too.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/24  at  11:09 PM

  • Hey all, I still need to play catch-up… stay tuned!  Pictures coming from the soon-to-be-constructed “Cretaceous Park” (no, that’s not a joke).

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/24  at  11:11 PM

  • Hey Erik,
    Sucre’s great! Especialy in comparison to Uyuni or Potosi. Spent 5 days there in December, went to The Joyride (which is Dutch, not Belgian by the way) about every day. Funny reading that you did almost the same things that I did when I was in Bolivia. That Cretaceous thing must be about the dinotracks in the cementfactory, right? Am stinking jealous after seeing the pics from your saltflat tour. You were so lucky that it had just been raining, the way the sky is mirrored in the desert and the horizon is lost is fantastic! No such luck for me when I was there, but it was still bloody amazing anyway.
    Am still in Argentina, on the border of the Lake District and Patagonia in a place called El Bolson. Beautiful country around here, makes you wanna put on your hikingfeet. And still southward bound, probably all the way to Ushuaia. When’s your flight out from BA? Might be able to meet up there for a beer as I’ll be getting a flight back there at some point.

    Posted by Pep  on  01/25  at  02:17 AM

  • True story… Bolivia’s national anthem was almost changed to “Love Plus One” by Haircut 100 during the height of the mid-eighties brit-synth invasion.  Muy loco!

    Posted by Tony  on  01/25  at  03:54 AM

  • I bet it’s not -22f in Potosi!!!!

    I’m Frickken Freezing!!!

    I’m glad Sucre is warm, because that’s all I can think of now.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/25  at  04:29 AM

  • what’s up erik? you’re missing out on 8 inches of snow and very slow commutes. i can only hope that a rendition of a song from “desperado” was followed by an appearance from a salma hayek look-a-like. peace.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/25  at  10:45 AM

  • no joke. i am here at work and i still can’t get warmed up. i think my toes are frozen.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/25  at  01:09 PM

  • (earmuffs) fuck the shitty cold you bitches!


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/25  at  04:36 PM

  • PEPE:  Hey man…  what a surprise, I just got back from Joyride again… just had a much needed “Hangover breakfast”...

    I’ll be in BA the first week of March, right after Carnivale in Rio…  will you still be around?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/25  at  04:36 PM

  • High Erik,

    I usually went for the treehuggers breakfast, the one with muesli and fruits and stuff. No matter how bad the hangover, couldn’t face the eggs and what have you in your one.
    Might still be around in Argentina at the beginning of March. Been here since late December and the place is starting to grow on me. At least another couple of weeks in Patagonia before I go back up North again, so the timing might be right.
    Peace man (sorry, I’m in El Bolson now which is Hippieville, Argentina)

    Posted by Pep  on  01/26  at  01:07 AM

  • First Mr. Rogers now Captain Kangaroo, who is next Big Bird?

    Alice -I saw Pantera they were good, I am jealous I did not even know Iron Maiden was playing.

    I am jealous of you too Eric.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/26  at  07:11 PM

  • hey, warren, you can stop being jealous, cause the concert was cancelled. the idiots at hammerstein double booked the place and ended up giving it to the other performance. what it was i dunno. but if it was anything like britney spears, i am ready to kill someone. now i got to wait another couple of years probably cause i don’th think maiden is touring the east coast any time soon. and i envy you that you got to see pantera. you should check out phil’s new band, superjoint ritual. pretty good. i am waiting for the new release by damageplan to see what the rest of the group sounds like without phil.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  05:48 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Kids in the Park

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Loogeys in Potosi


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