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    South by South America Tour – Bolivia Part 12

    Saturday, September 28, 2019
    Sucre, Bolivia

    Pole position with flair in Sucre, Bolivia.
    Pole position with flair in Sucre, Bolivia.

    The Basilica de San Francisco de Charcas in Sucre, Bolivia.
    The Basilica de San Francisco de Charcas in Sucre, Bolivia.

    I started off the day with a pleasant walk through the gorgeous white paint-splashed center of Sucre to the Mercado Central, the main market that is chock-full of stalls offering up everything from food to cleaning supplies to hardware and tools. I slowly made my way through the food sections, picking up enough fruit and vegetables to last for a couple of days. The way the sellers stack up their arrays of colorful produce and even packaged items is really a sight to behold. It’s just full-on eye candy. I even saw one lady situate herself inside a snug cave in the middle of her items.

    Layered flyers on a pole in Sucre, Bolivia.
    Layered flyers on a pole in Sucre, Bolivia.

    Beautiful buildings in Sucre, Bolivia.
    Beautiful buildings in Sucre, Bolivia.

    Later in the afternoon, I journeyed uphill to the south part of Sucre to pay a visit to the Museo de Arte Indígena ASUR, a small but worthy museum that showcases weavings, clothing, ceramics and musical instruments of the indigenous peoples of Bolivia, focusing on the Jalq’a and Tarabuco in particular. All of the material is nicely displayed, and multi-lingual printed guides are loaned to foreigners. The only bummer is no photography is allowed.

    A nice view of Sucre from a lower section of Cerro Churuquella, Bolivia.
    A nice view of Sucre from a lower section of Cerro Churuquella, Bolivia.

    A shrine next to the rocky stairs leading up Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.
    A shrine next to the rocky stairs leading up Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.

    Continuing upward, I climbed some serious steep cobblestone streets at the base of Cerro Churuquella, where I encountered a pack of menacing, barking dogs. After scaring them away by shouting and pretending to throw a rock at them, I hung a right onto a makeshift trail and ascended through a field to a barbed wire fence, which I luckily managed to squeeze through. There. I encountered a curving, rough, cobblestone road, which lead me to the rustic stone steps I had been seeking that lead to the top of Cerro Churuquella.

    The rocky path leading up to the Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.
    The rocky path leading up to the Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.

    The Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.
    The Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.

    Fortunately, the stone steps go straight up the side of the hill, whereas the road for cars proceeds through a series of meandering switchbacks. But, the price you pay for going straight is having to schlep up the steep steps. That’s great for burning calories, though, which I always need to do. Finally, after emanating my fair share of huffing and puffing, I made it to the top of Cerro Churuquella, where I encountered the Cristo del Sagrado Corazón, a large statue of Jesus Christ supported by a rustic stone base.

    A small shrine at the Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.
    A small shrine at the Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.

    A shrine inside the base of the Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.
    A shrine inside the base of the Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.

    Scattered around the grounds were numerous remnants of fires, with a few still smoldering and smoking. Unfortunately, the place was also full of litter. Apparently, a lot of people go up there to hang out, worship and / or have a picnic or party. Stepping around to the back of the base, I noticed the back doors were open. I walked up the steps and heard someone conducting a ceremony inside behind a shrine, ringing a bell, chanting and singing. As I peeked in, I had to cover my mouth with a cloth to survive the thick smoke billowing out.

    Burnt offerings on the base of the Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.
    Burnt offerings on the base of the Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.

    A picture of Jesus Christ with candles inside the base of the Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.
    A picture of Jesus Christ with candles inside the base of the Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.

    A few minutes later, a really old guy with a lame eye stepped outside and set down a platter with some burnt offerings. Then a younger guy emerged. After they left, I went inside to check out the shrine and snap a few photos. I was enthralled with the thick soot, dirt and grime covering every inch of every surface. It reminded me of Hindu temples in India, although not quite as intense. In two places, there were rows of candles supported by pools of melted wax, a portrait of Jesus Christ and three floral arrangements in plastic drink bottles. I really love the smoky, earthy atmosphere inside temples like that. A little bit after sunset, I made my way back down the stone steps before darkness could make the journey truly treacherous.

    Floral arrangements in plastic bottles inside the base of the Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.
    Floral arrangements in plastic bottles inside the base of the Cristo del Sagrado Corazón on the summit of Cerro Churuquella in Sucre, Bolivia.

    A small glass case containing snacks for sale on a sidewalk in Sucre, Bolivia.
    A small glass case containing snacks for sale on a sidewalk in Sucre, Bolivia.

    Words and photos ©2019 Arcane Candy.

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