Two Bolivian Capitals. So La Paz or Sucre?

School books of geography confusing me – almost all of them say that the capital of Bolivia is La Paz. I perfectly remember it from my classes back in time (I liked how La Paz sounds). Even many Bolivians in conversation call La Paz as a capital. Wikipedia says that Sucre is the one. So where is the truth? 

My parents and friends kinda travelling with me around the world, they have to open maps and books again searching for the place I’ve visited on this small round ball called Earth. “Mom, I’m in the capital.” “Mom, it was not the capital, now we are in the real capital.” And where’s the daughter?
I would never even think that one day I will end up in Bolivia or Paraguay – they sounds too far, too scary, we don’t know that much about Latin America honestly.

The real capital of the country is Sucre. It is written in the Constitution of Bolivia. Here is situated the Supreme Court of the country, but Government and other important guys, as well as all the wealth and treasures of the country are located in La Paz. Little Sucre is so inconspicuous, sleepy, calm that often people call ‘capital’  large, well-known La Paz. Capital in our minds is something big, noisy, busy.

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Sometimes locals call Sucre as Ciudad Blanca, i.e. White City. Its historical center is listed in Unesco heritage list for its colonial architecture, interesting combination of European architecture and local traditions.

City was founded in the 16th century by Spaniards. It grew fast thanks to the silver mining industry of neighboring Potosi. Potosi was a largest silver mining center in South America, a city with a very sad history. In the past they called Sucre “Ciudad de Plata”, the Silver City. For Europeans, Sucre became a luxury place for living, as long as Potosi mines existed.

Gigantic mine in Potosi, which had been feeding the insatiable mouths of Europeans for many years, doesn’t exist any more, and beautiful Sucre was forgotten.

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Later in 1825, here in Sucre, country declared its independence of the Spaniards. Words “la union es la fuerza” on the building of the Palacio Nacional reminds about this important day for Bolivia. The city was renamed in honor of Jose Antonio Sucre, leader of the Latin American War of Independence against the Spanish colonists.

My Sucre

Between hiking in the mountains or constant movement around the country, we often choose for a long-term stop one of the big cities for relaxing. After a week sleeping in the tent, eating ramens, freezing, walking 25 km per day, etc… ordinary things like a good cup of coffee ( mmm, double espresso) with a cake “tres leches” (just like my Mom cooks on another continent!), clean beautiful streets, supermarkets which open until late, bars with craft beer, fast internet and other small things of civilization are very much appreciated.

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On the other hand, big cities attract me less and less. I would love to stay there for a couple of days, chat with people, go out until the morning, do shopping, etc. Church, city museum, main square, shopping street, a couple of restaurants – a typical list to visit in any small city. Of course, there are unique cities that can be explored for a year – and it won’t be enough.

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For me, big cities are associated with a good coffee. In South America, so famous for its Colombian or Brazilian excelent coffee, it is almost impossible to find a good cup of this drink. What you will usually get as a coffee in average “comedor” (little restaurant) is a cup of hot water and a can of instants coffee, if you are a bit more lucky – a very bad liquid of cheap coffee prepared in a large pot in the italian manner. Find a strong aromatic double espresso from coffee machine is not that easy, even in the bigger cities.

Bolivian coffee surprises: Americano here exists in two forms – “Normal americano” and “Americano Boliviano”. The first one is small as espresso, the second is a large cup of coffee – they just put more water. Ones we ordered coffee-to-go from a street kiosk and they served it … in a plastic bag. You can take a straw or make a hole and suck coffee out of the bag.

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In Sucre we just had a good rest. Okay, my friend had, and I worked for 5-6 hours a day (as Internet allowed) – freelancing helps to prolong my backpacker’s life. In Bolivian big cities you can find more or less good internet (but for sure not in the villages). In the evenings we went out to the bar, wandered around the city or communicated with the guys at the hostel.

Opportunities for freelancing in Bolivia

Why not to earn N bucks on a trip? Especially if your work is a simple copypast, sipping beer and chatting with guys from Colombia or Peru? Instead of wasting time on facebook or instagram I worked from every place where I could find decent wifi.

Bolivia is not suitable for normal freelancing. Internet here is slow and you will find it only in big cities. It is possible to find place with a good Internet (and stay there for a long time), but you certanly can’t expect to move around and get everywhere fast, high-quality wifi. On the other hand here it is very, very, very cheap, people are lovely and hospitable and there is plenty of places to visit – Bolivia is one of my favorite countries in South America. For $ 5-8 a day you can definitely rent a cheap hostel and buy food for the day.

What to do in Sucre?

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Sucre is a nice little town that can be seen in a day or two. You will feel the difference with the more traditional, noisy, messy La Paz in a first second.

Sucre is a european-looking city. A pleasant plan for a day can be: drink a cup of double espresso in one of the coffee places, stroll along the white streets and try saltenas (local juicy empanada) or other street food and sweets from cute old ladies selling them on the streets, hike up the hill to La Ricoleta and enjoy the view of the city (you can also visit the museum in the monastery ) and have a dinner on the market on the second floor – try local sausage “chorizo ​​chuquisaqueño”(the MUST, it was the tastiest chorizo of all South America I swear). In the evening, you can go to the Joy Ride , one of the city’s most popular and always crowdy bars or find another bar with craft beer. Stout and IPA were good enough but not the best in my life.

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