The views and opinions expressed on these blog posts are solely those of the original author, myself,  Amanda Cox. These views and opinions do not represent those of any company, government, or organization I may be affiliated with.

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Review of Vista Fitness Centre: Western-Style Gym and Yoga Classes in Sucre, Bolivia

I just arrived in Sucre a few months ago, but I knew that if I was going to be here for a year I would have to figure out a routine. Not just where to live and work, but where to buy groceries, the best restaurants to eat, the cafes with great internet, and a gym to stay in shape and clear my head. Thankfully, after only about 2 weeks of asking around, I managed to find a gym with yoga classes – score!

Not a bad place to spend a Saturday afternoon! #yoga #wifi #cafe #greatview #sucre #bolivia

A photo posted by Amanda Cox (@mandyrox2) on

If you’re in Sucre and interested in getting/staying in shape – read below to find out more about the gym!

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Dancing in the Streets: the Festival of the Virgen de Guadalupe in Sucre, Boliva

South America loves it’s festivals! For those who don’t know, most of the countries are predominantly Catholic* and they love to celebrate all the different saints at various times of the year. Sometimes it’s a bit annoying (church bells early in the morning, and marching bands practicing late at night when you’re trying to sleep) but mostly it’s really fun.  I love how much energy it brings to the city, and it can turn a sleepy town into a vibrant explosion of colour, music, and dancing – it’s really quite a sight to see!  In early September, Sucre celebrated it’s patron saint – the Virgen de Guadalupe.

* In Bolivia, they identify as Catholic, but the rituals are not all the standard ones you would find around the world. When they were first colonized, they already had their own beliefs – especially related to Pachamama (or mother earth).  Therefore, they call themselves Catholic or Christian but still retain a lot of the rituals and beliefs they’ve had for hundreds of years.

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So many colourful costumes! 

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Learning a New Language – Hopefully….

One of my biggest challenges since arriving in Bolivia is the language.  I know how to explore a new city to find the best restaurants and restaurants. I have experience with noisy traffic and stray dogs. I can handle the cold temperatures and random storms.  But the language is not something that requires just “being flexible” and “going with the flow”.  It requires actually learning something – a lot of somethings in fact!

I can honestly say that communication has been one of the biggest things to overcome during my experiences in international development.  Even if you’re speaking the same language, there are major cultural differences between countries, and major communication style differences between people.  When talking to colleagues and managers, there’s always a compromise to be made between speaking clearly to get your ideas across and seeming too rude and forward. In Bolivia, I find that the opposite is the case.  You have to be a little bit pushy to get anything done.  If you wait for your boss to set up a meeting it will never happen, and if there’s something you need – you have to ask.  If you wait around, you probably won’t get that much work done while you’re here.

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Picking up a new idioma is more than just nodding and understanding.  There are millions of words, hundreds of verbs, and at least 10 different verb tenses – yikes!  I’m enjoying my work, but it’s really hard to have meetings and get my point across when I can only use small, simple words to explain complex ideas.  Thankfully, I’ve been taking classes and have been able to learn a bit of vocabulary, a few words at a time.

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Daily and weekly routines: Boring or Necessary?

When you first arrive in a new place – it’s really easy to be in tourist mode. You want to check out “the top 10 places to go” in the city, whether that includes museums and statues, parks and beaches, or restaurants and bars. It’s all well and good until you start to get a bit bored. There are only so many cathedrals and exhibits you can see, or so many late nights drinking at the club before you realize that this is not a sustainable lifestyle for an extended period of time. After a few weeks, whether it’s on purpose or not, you’re probably going to develop a routine to help schedule your days. I think that actively planning this routine can lead to healthier, happier choices that make it easier to integrate into a community and be satisfied with your life.

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Sometimes just “going with the flow” and leaving free time in your schedule, allows you to make time for friends and go on fun adventures in your city. Left: Steve at a BBQ with our friends in Sucre. Right: Me, after buying some groceries at a local tienda (and practicing our Spanish with the shop-keeper).

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A hectic few days! Arriving in Bolivia

Originally we were supposed to have about a week in La Paz for orientation and to get acclimatized to the altitude before heading to Sucre.  But plans change, and after a crazy 2 days of travel, we had to spend most of the next week travelling as well!  It was definitely a whirlwind but I think we handled it pretty well.  Although I’m normally a very organized person who plans everything to the last detail – Steve and I are both pretty good at going with the flow when necessary….

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Views of La Paz and El Alto on the way to the airport.

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Just a hop, skip, and a jump! – Travelling from Toronto, Canada to Sucre, Bolivia

It had been a long few months to get to this point.  People always ask how you’re feeling: Are you nervous to move to a country you don’t know much about? Are you excited to go on a new adventure? Are you sad to be leaving everyone behind?  To be honest, the last couple of weeks are just stressful.  I don’t even think about these things!  All I can think about is packing one box, one room, one suitcase at a time.  The last few months have been a few giant to-do lists of everything that needs to be accomplished before moving to another continent.  But once you arrive at the airport, all bets are off! Sitting on the plane you finally realize that this is happening, it’s real, and there’s nothing you can do about it!

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Steve’s parents were nice enough to drop us off at the airport in Toronto.

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15 Ways that Sucre, Bolivia Compares to Other Places

It’s human nature to make comparisons.  Especially when you travel, it’s very easy to say “I don’t like this because it’s different from what I’m used to at home…” (well, you might not say this out loud but you might think it…), or “This is so much nicer than it is in X country.”.  These comments can be positive or negative, and are a big part of learning about a place; including the social norms, culture, infrastructure, services, and all other aspects of life in a new place.  It’s not necessarily bad to make these types of judgements, as long as you try to understand why things are a certain way, and get used to living in that place without complaining all of the time.

Since I have traveled quite a bit, I thought I would give you a feel for what Sucre, Bolivia (my new stomping grounds) is like compared to some other places around the world that I have visited.  But keep in mind that each city has it’s own unique culture and history that shaped the way it is today.

Note: All images and videos below are mine, taken from my travels over the last 10 years, except for 3 exceptions (#2-Map of Sucre, #8-Map of Montreal, #14-Sidewalk in Mexico). For each set of pictures, the image on the left is from Sucre, Bolivia and the image on the right is another city (which is written in bold in the paragraph below it).

Here are 15 different things about Sucre that remind me of my travels:

Mountains - Bolivia  Mountains - Nepal

1. Sucre is located in a valley, surrounded by mountains – like Kathmandu, Nepal. Everyday when you look out the window you’re reminded by the light brown border on the horizon (this picture was taken from the plane between La Paz and Sucre). Steve’s not used to it yet, so he always thinks that it’s cloudy for a bit, until he realize that it’s just mountains – but it’s actually always sunny (at least in winter) with beautiful blue skies.

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