Sarah celebrated her birthday this year climbing up to Dead Woman’s Pass on the Inca Trail. For me, the mark of another passing year would land the day we flew from La Paz to Sucre… perhaps a little bit less interesting than Sarah’s. But I’d argue that flying in Bolivia is always an adventure.
But, Christopher, did you say fly? Why, yes I did. Besides interesting natural wonders, rich indigenous cultures, and occasional political unrest, if there’s one thing that puts Bolivia on the map for the discerning traveler it would have to be just how inexpensive it is to travel in.
To celebrate my birthday, Sarah and I decided to check the airfare to fly between La Paz and Sucre instead of taking the 16 hour bus. And wouldn’t you know, not only was it quite economical to fly but the cost also didn’t change whether you were booking 2 weeks or 2 days ahead. So, upon returning to La Paz from Rurrenabaque (yes, the flight back was just as nerve racking as the first), Sarah and I did something that I didn’t know you could do anymore. We walked right up to the airline counter and bought (with cash) two tickets to Sucre for two days time… my birthday.
Little did we know that this small act of birthday indulgence/getting soft after too many overnight bus rides would end up saving our bacon. A day later, mining cooperatives in the Potosi area would blockade major routes between La Paz, Sucre, and Potosi in protest to a government proposed tax. The blockades would prevent buses from traveling to these cities for the next few days, stranding travelers.
Alas, thanks to a little birthday spoiling, we successfully boarded our AeroSur flight and headed down to Sucre. Of course, the faded green seats with still functioning ash trays gave us a few clues to the fact that our airplane had had a few birthdays of its own.
What we found when we landed in Sucre was a beautiful town, brimming with whitewashed walls and colonial architecture. What we also found was the absolutely lovely Bed and Breakfast, Casa Verde, that Sarah had booked us in for the occasion.
This had to be one of the nicest places we’d stayed in during our trip… lovely room, large courtyard with swimming pool, gorgeous common area… and breakfast with eggs, fresh juice, fresh bread, and homemade muesli. (Most breakfasts for the last week or two had consisted of bread and jam)
Before heading to dinner, we shared some great Bolivian wine (yes, Bolivians make wine in the southern part of the country) and relaxed in the courtyard. We had chosen the French restaurant La Taverne to celebrate the evening.
Dinner ended up being nothing short of amazing; Fillet Mignon, Grilled chicken in mushroom sauce, some more Cab Sav and just a little chocolate cake to top it off. And for a night cap, we headed over to a nearby pub after dinner for a few mojitos. The perfect little end to a great birthday night.
Sarah and I started off my birthday celebration with the idea of spoiling ourselves. After six months of being on the road, it felt like the perfect excuse to loosen up the purse strings and live it up a little. Only thing was that when everything was said and done, our lavish time in Sucre ended up costing less than half of what it would have probably cost in Melbourne.
So I guess the secret to spoiling yourself… on a shoestring… is probably a lot less about what you do and a lot more about where you do it.
And Bolivia is a great place for a little spoiling! (stay tuned for a little sticker shock we’d experience upon entering Chile a few weeks later)