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Sucre and Potosi, Bolivia

I took Bolivian Air for the first time. The connection in Cochabamba was smooth and the views were about like this the whole trip. Painted mountains, few villages.

Sucre has just over 300,000 people which is roughly half of the Department of Chuquisaca. It doesn't look too big from the air.

One last view of the city before landing. Not many tall buildings for a "capital" city. Seems to be plenty of room to expand.

The city of Sucre was named after this guy who, along with Simon Bolivar (a la Bolivia), liberated much of South American. He was born in Venzuela, president of Peru, president of Bolivia, died in Columbia, and buried in Ecuador!

This road leads up from La Merced up to the main plaza. Beautiful traditional architecture contrasted with the Mac Fast Food here in red.

The twin hills that overlook Sucre, as seen from a restaurant on top of the one and only modern shopping center, SAS. The hill on the right has a large white cross that is illuminated at night.

Sucre is nowhere near as hilly as La Paz (the other capital) but there are a few steep hills here and there.

The Mayans discovered chocolate, right? So I am on a quest to find the best chocolate drinks and desserts in Latin America. In Sucre, you have to try "Para Ti." The "expresso" drink on the left was excellent. The little chocoloate shot was Amaretto (no chocolate) in a choco cup.

Closer view of the one of the churches. My hotel, "de su Merced" is named after this one. Not much to see, but interesting to find graffiti on a religios building.

View from the rooftop of my hotel. The colonial building to the left of center was the orginal seat of government for Bolivia until Sucre lost such powers to La Paz in all but name about a 100 years back.

Lots of nice old churches in Sucre.

There are lots of backpackers in Sucre, many hanging-out and taking Spanish lessons. Others just enjoying the cheap beer. They were all at Florin on this Friday night dancing under this orange tree in the patio.

The band at Florin played a variety of Spanish-language pop music and maybe one song in Portuguese. We danced until 2am and then went for karaoke somewhere. Yes, karaoke is pretty popular in Bolivia.

Welcome to Potosi, where a "mountain of silver" was discovered around 1550. This funny face guards the entrance to the second (and larger) Spanish mint built in Potosi to process the 40,000 metric tons of silver taken from the mountain over the years.

The plaza/square in Potosi is not so impressive. It is overshadowed by Mt. Potosi which is the real reason for this city's existence.

Outside the Casa de la Moneda. It is really a huge building and I noticed that the walls are about a meter thick. Good place to mint money, I guess. Note that this is the second mint in Potosi, completed in 1773.

Saturday night in Potosí. I convinced my new friends to go for Huari instead of the local Potosina beer. I liked the beer in Sucre, Sureña, but not impressed with Potosina.

We played "69" at the restaurant pub until about 1am. It's a silly truth-or-dare kinda drinking game with questions about Bolivian culture and Tigo- the mobile phone carrier that apparently subsidizes the game.

Here's a better look at the big hill-o-money. According to The Ascent of Money, a documentary that I watched recently, the discovery of Potosi increased the supply of silver so much that it devalued all silver currency at the time. This may be the only time that devaluation of a currency was due to "natural causes" instead of over printing by a central bank!

Aside from Mt. Potosi, everything is pretty much downhill from the town of Potosi. Not as hilly as La Paz, but a challenging place for a morning run.

This is my new favorite gas stand, with the one in Lalibela, Ethiopia a close second. I'm not sure if the woman on the bench is the attendant...

Colorful back streets are fun to wonder around. There is a movie called "Tentacion de Potosi" which makes the place look dark and spooky, but I found it to be pretty cheerful.

For the record, this is where we hung-out the night before. Very trendy place not far from the square. I like the metal work on their sign.

About 30 minutes from Potosi, you can find 2-3 different hot spring places. Since my days in Japan, I love trying different hot springs. The cool thing here in Terapaya is the view. The water wasn't warm enough for my taste, though.

The other disappointment is that Terapaya just has a big swimming pool. When we arrived, kids were actually taking swimming lessons. Still, it was cool to see the complex and soak in the water for a bit.

Walking up the hill from Terapaya, I found these plants to be pretty. Shouldn't be too far to the natural hot spring pool...

Yes, here is the Ojo de Dios, a natural, perfectly round lagoon above Terapaya. The guidebook says that some people have drowned due to funny currents caused by the hot water, but it looks innocent to me.

There is a lone duck, with a bad attitude, who patrols the warm water. Nice mountains in the background, eh?

This is the nephew of the caretakers at the lake. He enjoyed playing with my iPhone for a while and insisted that I take a photo of him and his plant friends.

The road from Terapaya back to Potosi passes through a rugged valley, but all I got was this stinkin picture.

Back in Sucre, I made it down to see this building which should be the Supreme Court of Bolivia. This is all the Chuquisaquenas have left of the days when Sucre was the capital and seat of all three branches of the national government.

Lots of cute old things like this in Sucre, the White City.