Children of the Grave

Sucre
May 18th – May 31

We arrived in Sucre to beautiful weather, which warmed up our frozen Andean limbs and soul. Here, we met with my friend France – which whom I worked with in Montreal (she was the English to French translator). She’s the one that pretty much convinced me to go to Bolivia, and now I understand why she always comes back to Sucre; it has to be one of the nicest cities we’ve been to so far!! They call it “Sucre – the White” because all of its Colonial/Baroque buildings are painted in white. When the sun shines of it, it makes the city glow… it almost seemed like it was a coastal city, as if you could find the sea right next to it, but alas Bolivia had lost its access to the sea in the late 1800’s. Anyway, we stayed there two weeks, which was almost not enough. We rested well, ate like royalty, climbed a mountain and I even saw the president!

A view from the streets

A square

A real Krusty burger!!

Funny spangrish moment

I usually don’t talk about our sleeping-facilities, but the place we resided in – La Dolce Vita guesthouse – was one of the best, most luxurious stays we’ve been in (and for 12$/night for a private!) Our room was nicely decorated and actually had lots storage space for our luggage. The gas-powered showers were super hot (a luxury in Bolivia) and we had access to a kitchen, with an OVEN! We totally took advantage of that and made a delicious Tartiflette (a French dish from the Savoie region). I know it’s not Bolivian, but we had found reblochon cheese in the supermarket, and we were extremely excited. Check out the photo, and you’ll see why:

Tartiflette

Tartiflette (A doomsday meal)
For 4:

  • 1 reblochon cheese, sliced in 4 (once horizontally, once vertically)
  •     If you can’t find reblochon – a nice soft cheese with a crust, ask your cheese merchant for a replacement
  • 1 kg potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup white wine
  • 200 g bacon
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Leaf of laurel
  1. Slice the bacon in tiny pieces and cook them in a pot which you can close with a lid.
  2. Fry the onion in the bacon fat until it turns golden. Turn oven on to 250 Celsius.
  3. Cover potatoes with white wine, salt, pepper and laurel leaf and boil, covered, for 12 minutes
  4. Take an oven safe dish, grease with olive oil, then place half of the potato mixture in the bottom. Add heavy cream and half of the reblochon cheese on it.
  5. Add remaining potatoes and cover with the rest of the reblochon cheese (crust facing upwards).
  6. Cook in oven for 30 minutes or until potatoes are done, and cheese is melted and golden.
  7. Enjoy with the remaining white wine!

We found a great metal bar called Rockerz, which served nice beer. The walls are plastered with old metal posters, shrines to bands (Iron Maiden, Kiss, etc) and they had tabled painted with metal logos. We went there twice – and on the second time, I offered them my DJ services haha. It was quite interesting as they never had that in their 9 years of opening; usually they just play music from a computer, or do small concerts. I spinned tons of stuff, but unfortunately the people at the end were getting drunk and asking for really shitty songs (think Power Metal or effeminate glam ballads!) which I had no choice but to put them (according to the bar staff as they wanted to please the crowd). I did have my limits though, and had to get angry a few times for them to understand that what they were asking was far from metall! Grrr!! And some drunk guy wanted to kiss me at the end, but I got to escape the bar just in time hahaha!! So yeah, overall it was an ok experience, and I got to discover a few new bands… among them being the 70’s prog rock band WARA:

And here is what the bar looked like inside:

François and myself at the DJ booth!

My friend France and myself

With the owner's wife, inside Rockerz. You can see Iron Maiden stuff on the right side of the photo.

A really cool hand painted Darkthrone table at Rockerz bar!

Beside that, metal-wise, there wasn’t too much happening in Sucre. They had two pseudo stores, but all they carried were usual metal shirts and CD-R bootlegs… they are therefore not worth mentioning.

May 25th is Bolivia’s independence day. They signed a treaty in Sucre, and therefore now they celebrate that day by doing many events; a military march, free concerts, and other kinds of rallies. I went to check out some parts of the military march, which featured the president and vice-president of Bolivia. Sadly, all I got was this crappy blurry photo… doesn’t he look like Elvis?

Evo, the president, and the vice-president

Army guys. Can you spot the chick?

I also saw some pretty cool looking corpse-painted motorcycle-clad army guys:

Check out the dynamite in this guy's pocket!

A bit further in the march was some traditionally-clothed women and men from Jalq’a, showing off their artisanal work:

Women from Jalq'a

These are the very rare men weavers... and the baseball caps are not traditionally part of the costume haha

This is what they use for weaving (photo taken in the ASUR shop)

And this is the result! This style of ancient weaving can take a year each to make!

I ate a salteña (Bolivian empanada) while watching the march, but little did I know that it was full of yummy but burning sauce; one bite and the juices fell all over my hands and feet. A nearby lady laughed, and told me that I had to separate it in half and then split the juices equally from one side to the other so that there is always sauce when you take a bite; and that way you don’t make a mess. Or you can just sip it like a juice, and then eat the middle part. Anyway, it was really really good; the best empanadas I’ve had so far – even better than in Salta!

The saltenas!

Inside the saltena. Check out the juices... arghhhhhh

A few days ago, we climbed the recoleta mountain, which has been transformed in some sort of holy path (via crucis). It was surprisingly high, but the view from it was fantastic! We climbed it with France and her friend Waira… and Waira told me that back when the Spanish came, they had imprisoned an Inca chef in some passageways under the mountain and had asked the locals to fill an entire room with gold as a ransom. I read about this happening in Peru, but didn’t think they did it in Bolivia as well! Apparently, the passageways are still there, but whoever entered them never came back out alive…

Bottom of the recoleta mountain

Half way to the top!

Myself and François on top of the mountain. It was a tough one hehe

We then went to a coffee place and had some nice freshly-squeezed juice. The place also had a weird tree, which upon close inspection, I found that it was a pink-pepper tree!! The locals don’t eat pink pepper, but I thought it was pretty cool to see:

Waira and France drinking juice (orange/maracuya/pineapple mix).

Pink pepper tree...

We visited a few museums, one of them being the ecclesiastic museum; which had tons of old religious artefacts. My favourite one was a death bed; check out the cool paintings on that one! (I wasn’t supposed to take photos of it hehe)

Death bed!

Another view of the mighty death bed

We also got to celebrate our birthdays in Sucre. For that, we went to the best restaurants in town. For my own 25th birthday, we went to El Huerto (the orchard) for a lunch in their lovely garden. We had the speciality, freshly made chorizo, and for our main meals, François had Titicaca trout with capers and I had bbq’ed roquefort/walnut stuffed chicken fillets smothered in mango sauce and served with gigantic fries. All of that for 24$, paid by my parents as part of my present! Merciiii!!! We were too stuffed for dessert; instead I had a cheese cake later on in the evening haha

These were really fresh, they had bits of coriander and spring onions in them. Yum!

François' trout with buttered potatoes

They turned out really good, just perfectly grilled and juicy; but perhaps not cheesy enough.

François with a mandarin juice

Oh yeah, I had two of these. The Brazilian national drink, caipirinha!

The royal ending.

Two days later was François’ birthday, and to celebrate it we went to La Taverne (the tavern), the restaurant of l’Alliance Française. I had filets mignons wrapped in bacon and topped with mushrooms, red wine sauce and bleu cheese, and François had Titicaca trout once again. For dessert I had a flan, which was a bit disappointing, but still ok. We had fresh juices (tumbo and strawberry) as well as another caipirinha for me haha. Our bill ended up being 20$ there! Incredible!

These babies were absolutely fantastic; they had just the right amount of fat, and they were grilled perfectly. I haven’t had a meal this satisfying since the Crudos in Valdivia, Chile.

The flan was a bit chunky and the fruit salad on top seemed like it came from a can... they should have included fresh berries or something.

My friend France also invited us to a Quebec-style brunch, which included some… MAPLE SYRUP! I was craving maple syrup for so long, and she made us pancakes. I swear, maple syrup never tasted so good. I missed it so much!

Sweet, sweet, maple syrup...

We didn’t even have time to visit everything we wanted in Sucre; the cemetery, the odd European-style castle… but that means only one thing; I guess we’ll have to come back one day!

Potosi
May 31 – June 2nd

Located at 4100 meters, around 3-4 hours from Sucre (depending on how many stops the bus makes!), Potosi is surrounded by rainbow-colored mountains and  was founded in 1545 after discovering silver. Its mines made it one of the wealthiest cities in the late 18th century – but unfortunately the same mines were employing indigenous people and African slaves under really, really bad conditions (millions of deaths occurred). To protect them from the hell below, they worshipped the devil (tio), drank 90%+ alcohol and chewed on coca leaves.  The mines are still active nowadays and it’s possible to visit them (miners are still working with primitive tools – most of them die 10 years after entering the mines), but we weren’t interested in a visit. Instead, we went to one of South America’s finest museums, the Casa de la Moneda. The city itself is quite a chaotic colonial mess, but it has some really nice architecture nonetheless.

An old church turned into the local touristic bureau. The engravings were probably made by indigenous people - which explains the subtle South American traits

A chaotic colonial street in Potosi

Constructed in 1753 (taking 15 years to accomplish), La Casa de la Moneda is Potosi’s biggest and oldest colonial monument, and is also home to religious art, ancient coins, wooden minting machines and tons and tons of skulls and mummies!

Inside the Casa de la Moneda walls

The exterior of the Casa de la Moneda

Check out those weird skull shapes, they were even more impressive in real life. Skulls were deformed according to ranks:

Weird deformed skull

Another weird deformed skull. Melissa? Can you hear meeee?

This little guy was found by a German archaeologist in the laguna verde and colorada areas. Two were found... they are the size of small children, but apparently they are adults! Nothing more is known from them.

These mummies were taken from a 18th century Spanish cemetery. They are small children, and still have their original clothes on:

Mummified children

A skull-less child mummy

Creepy, isn’t it?

Today we went to the Ojo del Inca lake, which are natural hot springs. I know, it’s the third time we go to hot springs, but it’s so cold around here that it’s really nice to be able to bathe in hot water, haha. But of course, what made it so special is the location… we were surrounded by beautiful mountains and puppies!

El Ojo del Inca (The eye of the Inca) - A volcanic crater filled with water!

PUPPIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So now tomorrow we will be going to Oruro for a short stop, and then we’re spending a week in Cochabamba. Talk to you all later!

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10 responses to “Children of the Grave

  • Véro

    Wow tes posts réussissent toujours à me donner super faim haha. 😀

    C’est quoi l’affaire du Krusty Burger? Je pense pas que y’ont payé le copyright hein? Haha! C’est drôle en tout cas.

    Ça l’air froid à cause de la haute altitude, mais c’est combien environ comme température? Je me suis toujours demandé comment je trouverais le climat dans les montagnes en Amérique du Sud.

    …La fille est la deuxième à partir de la gauche, sous le deuxième drapeau, right? 🙂

    • intothevoid

      Ouais, ici il y a de tout… des resto de burgers homer, des chips Tom and Jerry, un Krusty Burger… bien sur, il n´y a aucune histoire de droits haha, ils n´auraient pas assez d´argent pour les payer de toute maniere… en tout cas, tu as trouve la fille! Wooooo!
      Tu nous manques en passant, Vero!!!!!!!

  • Simon!

    Vraiment le fun de revoir ça!

    Nous on avait fait Potosi-Sucre en taxi pour 200 bolivianos si je me souviens bien… (ou p-ê moins, on était cheapos dans l’temps!)

    Un mix de tartiflette et de momies de bébés… c’est sûr que ça donne faim!!

    Les mines d’argent (étain), c’est très particulier… mais ce qui était cool c’est qu’on pouvait s’acheter de la dynamite pour donner aux mineurs et qu’il y avait des sautages à un niveau au-dessous de nous (à moins de 20 mètres en ligne droite). C’est un choc humain assez fort.

    Ha’ta luego pinchi cabrones! (c’est du Mexicain)

  • Sylvain Labonté

    Salut Annick,

    Bien content de voir que tout se passe bien pour vous deux. Content aussi de te voir en compagnie de France , Quel beau que vous faites ,wow ! à travers tes commentaires et tes photos tu nous fais voyager dans notre tête . Tu nous montre la beauté du monde , le vrai monde et non celui que les médias invente.

    On vous salue moi et Annie xxxxx

    • intothevoid

      Merci Sylvain, ton commentaire me touche!! C’était vraiment drôle de rencontrer France en Bolivie, ça faisait tout bizarre car on avait mangé avec elle juste avant de partir. En tout cas, dis allo à Annie si tu peux, et vous me manquez beaucoup!! xxoo

  • Sylvain Labonté

    Euh…s’cuse je voulais dire quel beau voyage que vous faites , wow . Le mot voyage m’a échappé des doigts en t’écrivant 🙂

  • Miguel Zequeda

    Great to see you’re enjoying that beautiful country… When in Cochabamba you may wanna contact Carlos Rojas, who runs one of the best, if not the best Metal record label in South America, Raw Black Kult (www.rawblackult.com). Reach him at:
    rawblackult@hotmail.com

  • Darquos

    Vraiment intéressant de vous suivre dans vos aventures humaines, gastronomiques et culturelles ! Les momies d’enfants sont impressionnantes !!! Dommage quand même que tout soit rédigé en anglais !

    • intothevoid

      Salut Darquos! Heureuse que tu aimes autant. Voir les momies d’enfant en vrai vie était vraiment une expérience intéressante… c’était vraiment morbide haha. En tout cas, oui, tout est rédigé en anglais mais ma famille et ma grand-mère utilisent google pour traduire, et donc eux aussi peuvent me suivre. 🙂 À +!

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