Sizzling Sucre Bolivia: Spanish Classes, Salsa Lessons, and Sickness

We had some great adventures in Sucre, both up and down experiences in the city. I finally started my  Sucre Spanish Classes and I took Salsa lessons, too. But, in the past few days, I’ve read a lot of posts from other bloggers about Sucre, Bolivia. And, I’ve noticed a reoccurring theme. Sickness. It seems like a lot of travelers get sick when they reach Sucre. Unfortunately, we were not immune to that, although we certainly were not aware of it.

Overall, Sucre was and is a stunning city with incredible architecture, stunning landscapes, and fascinating history. It is certainly the prettiest of all of the cities in Bolivia. But, we missed far too much of it. So much in fact, that I feel myself wanting to go back and do it again. That doesn’t happen very often. As nomads, we are generally quite content to explore and move on to the next place. But, I can’t help but feel like we got a little jipped with Sucre.

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Spanish Classes in Sucre, Bolivia

As frustrating as is to feel like we didn’t see as much of Sucre as we wanted to, it wasn’t a total failure. I finally started my long overdue Spanish lessons in the city. Sucre is quite famous for its numerous Spanish school, and for the very low cost of such lessons. We chose to stay in a hostel that offered Spanish classes for the pure convenience of it. We are without any excuse an attachment family. We do everything together and we are proud of that. But, taking Spanish classes is a little more personal of an endeavor. Still, I was not thrilled about disappearing for hours on end for the sake of language.
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The nice thing about taking lessons at the hostel is the relaxed homey atmosphere and the availability of private lessons. I requested a local, female teacher and we were off. The kids were allowed to simply come and go, say hello, play on the floor, or interact a little bit. They were part of my classes as much as they wanted to be, and I didn’t feel isolated from the family during my studies.

This experience happened at a place called the Colors House in Sucre. It was a very nice hostel in a historic building, close to downtown. All the rooms circled around an inner courtyard with a restaurant, and the Spanish classes were held upstairs in small, private rooms. My teacher was Valeska. A twenty-something lawyer turned Spanish teacher and tour guide. She was an absolute delight and I really enjoyed the Bolivian flare that she brought with her. I certainly got some deeper glimpses of Bolivia through mingling with her.

The classes them-self were not quite what I expected, although I do believe they were completely effective. I had this idea (which was completely unfounded) that Spanish classes would consist of me sitting across from somebody practicing the language in the most basic sense. Turns out that is not quite how it works. This was like being transported back to high school all over again, learning the rules of language like a true novice. We are talking the meaning of verbs, nouns, and adjectives. Writing phrases on the whiteboard, going with homework, the whole bit.

But, you see, this perfectly crafted for me, the quintessential writer. I love grammar, spelling, punctuation, and language in general. I am also a very visual, applied type of learner. I need to see it, do it, sabotage it twenty times, and then I get it. I spent 4 days in classes lasting 2 hours. I barely scratched the surface. I believe I may have hundreds of hours ahead of me before I am speaking like I should be. But, I do see light at the end of the tunnel. I will learn Spanish. Even if takes me the entire four years of traveling around South America.

And Salsa Lessons in Sucre, Too!

Towards the end of my first Spanish class, Valeska invited me to Salsa Classes. Turns out she also teaches some genuine Latina hip-swinging motions…for free…inside the same hostel. This not normally my type of thing. I don’t dance. At least not well. I am a white girl from the Midwest. That is my story and I’m sticking to it. But, on the other hand, my husband is Latino. And he does dance. Very well actually.

A little over a year ago, I made to personal promises to myself about this nomadic life across South America. #1. I will learn to speak Spanish fluently. and #2. I will learn to dance. They seem like reasonable ambitions, right? I just never knew that I would knock them both out on the same day.

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Taking Salas lessons was a total blast, no matter how much of a dufus I was. It was pure hysterics as myself and three other ladies tried to move like this saucy Latina. I was like a dog chasing its tail, looking behind myself the whole time trying to figure out how to lift my arse in the air like that. The other three girls weren’t in much better shape. An Asian gal and two girls from France, none of us with a lick of rhythm.

After an hour of grueling of stepping, hip-swinging, and twirling our toes we were all exhausted but thrilled with our progress. My husband stood by, quite stunned and impressed I think. This was way out of my comfort zone: to dance, to come into personal contact with complete strangers, and ultimately to not let myself be embarrassed.

He came onto the dance floor and whisked me off my feet, just like he has so many times before. And I didn’t fight it even if I did trip over his feet a few times. We sashayed around the room, all eyes on us, in the perfect moment of effort and effortlessness. It may very well have been just one class, but I think it might be the start of something new and beautiful for us. I can’t wait for the opportunity to do it again.

Stay tuned for more on Sucre in the next post, including more details above surviving our illness, the spectacular historical district, riding on public buses, the amazing colonial mansion hotel we stayed in, and our visit to the largest set of dinosaur footprints in the world!

*Please excuse the lack of photos! Our external hard drive needs to be repaired, and of course, most of our fabulous photos are locked inside it until we find a good place to rescue them.

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