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A Lack of Idleness

Sucre, Bolivia- There hasn’t been a spot that I’ve traveled to that I haven’t wanted to leave until now. After one month of Sucre I’m still not ready to leave so I’ve decided to stay throughout June. I get booted out of Bolivia on August 2nd so I’ll hit the road again in July to [...]

Sucre, Bolivia-

There hasn’t been a spot that I’ve traveled to that I haven’t wanted to leave until now. After one month of Sucre I’m still not ready to leave so I’ve decided to stay throughout June. I get booted out of Bolivia on August 2nd so I’ll hit the road again in July to tour around Bolivia before crossing the border into Peru.

At the moment I’m in no hurry to cross into Peru. The Bolivia-Peru border has been brought to a stand still with protests inside of Peru. Before leaving office the previous Peruvian president sold a large portion of land to a Canadian mining company without consulting the locals who live there. Thousands of people weren’t too appreciative of the sale and have blocked several hundred kilometers of road. With no way of moving around once you cross the border other than walking along roads and towns full of angry people means I might have to search for an alternative entrance into Peru come August. I’m hoping the blockades will be lifted soon but I’m not holding my breath.

I’ll be staying in Sucre for June but finished up Spanish classes on Wednesday leaving me with a lot of extra time on my hands during the mornings and afternoons. Going along with the phrase, ‘Idle hands are the devils workshop’ I’ve started volunteering in a local orphanage last week to keep me busy while here in town.

From Sucre 2011-05-Kayqa Wasiky Orphanage

Recently my days have been completely filled with four hours of Spanish in the morning and three hours in the afternoons of chasing nine toddlers between one and two years old around a large room. Without Spanish in the mornings I’ve reclaimed my mornings and no longer need to up everyday by 8:00 am.

My evenings have also recently been busy between Volleyball on Wednesday nights and some extracurricular Spanish practice with a University student in Sucre. She’s been showing me around town to some local parties and BBQ’s where I’m the only white person in attendance. Needless to say I draw a little attention – in a good way. The change of pace has allowed me to break out of the backpacker circuit, which I’ve been enjoying. For June I’ll just keep enjoying my time in Sucre and kiss the other backpackers goodbye until July.

A Quick Guide to Some Bolivian Food

I’ve been in Bolivia for long enough now to have had a good sampling of the local fare and I have truly enjoyed the food culture. It’s a far cry from the bland, Italian diet of Argentina. They like their ‘picante’ here and I’m once again glad to see that a small bowl of hot sauce is standard on all tables. The diet is heavily based on various meats, potatoes and rice. In just over a month here are some of the standard local cuisines I have come across and have eaten my fare share of.

Sopa de Mani – Bolivia is soup country. Every meal starts with a soup. A quick walk through any market or a visit to any house for lunch will have you starting off with a bowl of soup and it’s usually Sopa de Mani – peanut soup. Oddly enough, I haven’t had a Sopa de Mani that has contained peanuts. It’s more of a chicken broth based soup with vegetables and usually one larger piece of meat. A large bowl can fill you up but locals will usually start with this and finish with another large plate of food. One bowl is around 4 Bolivians for a large bowl.

Sopa de Pollo – A similar soup to Sopa de Mani except with chicken.

Saise – My standard lunch dish and my ‘Senorita of Lunch’, Delia, knows exactly how I like it. This along with the next three dishes below will be found in any market. I usually don’t go more than two days without eating a large plate of this stuff. Like so many dishes this plate is served with a large portion of rice and potatoes and onions and tomatoes on top. Saice itself is a tomato based broth that is slightly spicy and contains small cubes of steak and peas. It reminds me of a flavorful but bare bones chili. A full plate costs around 10 Bolivianos and I’m usually stuffed after eating it.

Mondongo – Similar to Saice. Another tomato based broth with a similar spice level served with rice and potatoes. The only difference I really see is the meat. Instead of steak it’s usually large cubes of meat resembling something akin to roast. It’s usually a bit more pricey at 15 Bolivianos

Pollo Picante – Chicken breast or legs that has been cooked in a brown, spicy sauce. Also served with rice and potatoes for 13-15 Bolivianos.

Asado de Olla – As the name suggests. It’s grilled meat that is then dipped in a pot of some type of sauce and then served with rice and potatoes.

Carazón de Res – Cow’s Heart. This has quickly become one of my favorite late night foods. I haven’t seen this served up anytime except at night and only by women grilling it on a street corner. You know it when you see it because it looks like thin pieces of square steak. It’s usually served with tomatoes and lettuce with a spicy sauce on top. Amazingly flavorful. Price: 7-9 Bolivianos

From Sucre 2011-05-Corazón de Res

Pique a lo Macho – Easily my favorite hang-over food on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and I’m wondering why this dish hasn’t made it back to the States. This is just a pile of goodness. The base is a layer of french fries covered in gravy. Layered on top are cubes of steak, sausage, grilled onions and peppers and locotas (spicy peppers). The price is usually 25-40 Bolivianos for a large plate.

Salteñas – A great food while on the run. They’re usually in glass cases outside on the street or being sold by women in/around bus stations. I think these are better than any Salteñas I had in Salta or empanadas in Argentina. They are much bigger and are usually filled with chicken and an assortment of vegetables. My favorite ones are those that are baked instead of fried with a sweet crust and spicy filling. The cheaper fried variety can be found for 1 or 2 Boli’s while the better baked kind will be 4-5 Boli’s.

Papas Rellenas – Take a hard boiled egg or ball of meat, wrap it in a potato, dip it in a batter and deep fry it to get something absolutely delicious. Eggs aren’t my thing so I’ll order the meat version every time.

Tojorí – Not actually a food but great for breakfast. Very filling. It’s a thick corn-based drink flavored with cinnamon and has chunks of corn in it. That may not sound quite appetizing but it’s very rich and tasty. Some prefer it with milk mixed in as well. Usually it’s served with a ‘pastel’ as well which has a flavor similar to an unsweetened croissant.

Honorable Mention – For the past few weeks I’ve passed by a pizza shop every day without taking notice of it as I leave my hotel. Pizza shops seem to be a dime a dozen in Bolivia so why would I pay attention to another one? A few days ago, however, I walked by and something did catch my eye – Pizza Cones. More specifically a pizza crust folded into the shape of a cone stuffed with sauce, cheese, and several pizza toppings. I wouldn’t call it ‘Bolivian Food’ but it’s unique enough to be worthy of a mention and a trip inside. My take? Tasty, I just wish the cones were bigger. If you find yourself in Sucre at some point take a trip over to Camargo Street for a new take on how to eat a slice of pizza.

From Sucre 2011-05

Photos of Sucre:

Filed under: Bolivia, Cubicle Ditcher

About the Author:

Sam Langley left a comfortable and profitable job with an insurance company in the USA to travel the world. He has been going for years, and has not stopped yet. Keep up with his travels on his blog at Cubicle Ditcher. has written 147 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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  • mike crosby June 16, 2011, 10:45 pm

    Sam, just want you to know I just started following your blog. Thanks for sharing, I enjoy reading about your travels.

    I live in SoCal and will be taking a trip to Miami and Maine this year. While it’s not near as adventurous as your travels, I still look forward to the trips.

    You must be getting good at speaking Spanish. My wife is Cuban, and though I love the language, my language skills are coming along slowly.

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  • Sam June 18, 2011, 8:42 pm

    Hey Mike, Thanks for following the blog. Posts are a bit slow at the moment since I’m stationary and don’t have a consistent internet connection. But I’ve been enjoying taking a semi-break from moving around all the time.

    Since I’ve been in Sucre I’ve had lots of Spanish practice and it’s been getting pretty decent. My vocabulary has increased but deciding on which tense I need to use still throws me for a loop at times. Why do you need four tenses for the past!?! Keep practicing though man, it will get there.

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  • Rebecca June 28, 2011, 4:08 pm

    Hi Sam,

    Glad to hear that you are still enjoying your travels. Thanks for the summary on Bolivian food, I’m now ready for lunch! I hope you find a safe passage into Peru.

    Rebecca

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