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Tarabuco: Some Cool Hats and One Great Statue

Sucre, Bolivia – For the last month and a half I’ve had ‘Tarabuco Market’ on my list of things to do while in Sucre. It’s not in Sucre but the 65 kilometer drive makes it an easy trip that’s possible each Sunday. Any of the dozens of tourist agencies in downtown Sucre will sell you [...]

Sucre, Bolivia –

For the last month and a half I’ve had ‘Tarabuco Market’ on my list of things to do while in Sucre. It’s not in Sucre but the 65 kilometer drive makes it an easy trip that’s possible each Sunday. Any of the dozens of tourist agencies in downtown Sucre will sell you a ticket for the hour bus ride.

Once there I realized that I really wasn’t there to buy anything. Just walking the streets viewing the market and the locals is an event unto itself. The hats worn here aren’t like anything I’ve ever seen before and belong in their own class of ‘different’. Each hat has it’s own significance but when your walking the streets with men that look like they have turtles on their heads or women wearing beaded top-hats with fuzzy balls bouncing around you quickly forget about any kind of significance or that you’re there to purchase anything at all.

Women's top hats that have traditionally signified that a woman is single.

The town itself reminded me a lot of Todos Santos, Guatemala; situated high in the Altiplano surrounded by mountains and countryside. To say the people are traditional would be an understatement and it’s one of the few places I’ve seen where the traditional dress extends to the men as well.

Battle of Jumbate Statue

Once past the hats I realized that there were thousands of ponchos for sale, bags of coca leaves weighing several hundred pounds and more sandals made out of tires than a person would know what to do with. More interesting than all of this was one of the best statues I’ve seen yet. The statue itself is in honor of the Battle of Jumbate in March 1816 where the Tarabuceños defeated the Spanish army. The incredibly realistic the statue portrays a Tarabucan warrior clubbing a Spanish soldier with a cow horn and then ripping out his heart and eating it. There was, apparently, some cannibalism involved.

Wasted Work:

There isn’t anything wrong with the central plaza of Sucre. It has well groomed gardens, tall palm trees, and fountains that create a space any city would want to have placed in it’s center. Not to mention it’s usually remarkably clean and well maintained. That was until a few weeks ago when they started ripping out the surrounding side walks and park benches. I saw nothing wrong with the sidewalks so when I asked someone what the construction was for I expected to receive some answer about possibly replacing the sewage system or water pipes beneath the plaza. Nope.

“They tear it up about every two years as an employment strategy.” was the response I received.

“So there is absolutely no real reason for what they’re doing?” I replied.

“Nope.”

And the point of this is what exactly?

When only 7% of Bolivia’s roads are paved* it seems like there is plenty of infrastructure work that could be done to employ it’s own citizenry. It’s hard to believe that instead of putting its citizenry to work with long-term, beneficial jobs they opt instead to tear up the central plaza of Sucre only to repave it and create short-term jobs without any real purpose. Others seem to agree and think it’s moronic but no one will say anything because no one wants to be the voice against providing jobs for the unemployed.

* http://www.tradingeconomics.com/bolivia/roads-paved-percent-of-total-roads-wb-data.html

Sucre and Tarabuco Photos:

Filed under: Bolivia, Cubicle Ditcher, Random Thoughts

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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  • Wade Shepard July 9, 2011, 10:57 am

    Glad I read your description of that statue. I at first thought it was of a flaming homosexual man with his hand on his hip saying, “Heeeyyyyyy,” while swinging a giant penis. Whew, I feel relieve to know that it was a statue demonstrating cannibalism instead.

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    • Sam July 12, 2011, 6:15 pm

      Yeah, it was hard to get a good shot of the statue in all of it´s glory. You can´t see the gaping hole in the soldiers chest with blood pouring out of it.

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