Two weeks ago was my birthday, so Steve and I decided to do something special. We wanted a weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. A lady I know (Janilee Porter, a fellow Canadian) suggested that we come stay at her hotel for the weekend. It’s called Oasis Boliviano and is only about 30km from the city, but it feels like a totally different world. This was perfect for us, because we could easily leave Sucre after work on Friday, and return on Sunday afternoon without wasting a lot of time on transportation. However, it also has the quiet feel of a rural area, with the sounds of a river and birds while you relax in the hammock!
We ended up staying for two nights, and did a ton of fun activities while we were there! We had time to make traditional bread, visit a fish farm, enjoy some local guitar music, relax in the hammock, swim in the pool, build a water filter, and learn more about the community. It was great to relax and get away from all my responsibilities in the city. I love getting away for the weekend, and always feel refreshed when I return!
Here’s all the things we fit into the weekend, but there’s a lot more to do if you’re planning to stay for a longer time.
- Travelled from Sucre to Teja Hausi (public transport)
- Delicious dinner (traditional soup and hearty potato salad)
- Singani (drinks) and guitar with Reynaldo – Practice Spanish
- Optional extra: Enjoy the outdoor fire-pit
- Wonderful French toast breakfast in the garden
- Tour of the hotel and grounds with Trevor
- Swim in the pool (hot day)
- Lunch (Vegetarian lasagna)
- Work on volunteer project (construction of a bio-sand filter)
- Chill time and vegetarian dinner
- Enjoyed a movie in your room (Spanish/English options)
- Ate breakfast (scrambled eggs and toast)
- Made bread in traditional oven
- Walked over to visit neighbours (growing tomatoes, fish farmer, etc.)
- Optional extra: Eat a fresh fish lunch
- Swim in the pool (hot day)
- Enjoyed pot-luck lunch with friends from the city
- Taxi back to Sucre
Note: All activities with an asterisk (*) beside them indicate things that we didn’t do while we were there, but that are available if you’re interested in them. Make sure to ask Janilee before you come and she can help you arrange them!
Traditional Activities – Oasis Boliviano isn’t just a hotel, they also have a lot of activities to offer as well. Many of the activities focus on the traditional culture of the area, and try to involve their neighbours and others in the valley as much as possible.
Making bread in a traditional horno – One of the most delicious parts of the weekend was making bread. I don’t normally love the traditional type of bread they make in Bolivian because it’s usually quite hard and stale. Thankfully for us, we made it, and then got to eat it fresh with melted butter – yumm! So good 🙂 It takes about half a day to do all the steps because you have to heat up the oven, let the dough rise, cook the bread, etc. However, it’s possible to do some of the other activities (especially the relaxing activities below) while you’re waiting for the next step in the process. The lady who helps you (Leonar) is very sweet, lives locally, and is a total expert! It’s really interesting to see all the different steps that go into making the local bread, and the traditional outdoor oven is quite cool to watch. There are also other cooking options, such as making a traditional dinner/lunch dish if you prefer.
*Practice/Learn a bit of Quechua or Spanish – In Bolivia, the main working language in the city is Spanish. However, one of the biggest indigenous languages is Quechua, and many people (especially in the countryside) speak it as their primary (or sometimes only) language. We didn’t take any classes while we were there because we’re trying to focus on Spanish classes for now, but we did chat with Reynaldo (tour guide/fish farmer) for hours on Friday night at the hotel, which was great Spanish practice for us!
Take a tour of the grounds and learn more about organic agriculture – Trevor, the son of the owner, has lots of interesting projects going on around the property, and I found them extremely interesting. You can learn about organic agriculture, the rain-water collection system, different attempts to deal with waste disposal/recycling/composting, how the water filters work, etc. Let him know what you’re interested in and he’ll tell you all about it.
Build a bio-sand filter that can help to provide fresh drinking water to a family in the community – Trevor also has a project/NGO where they building bio-sand filters for people in the community. You won’t be able to finish the whole filter in just a day (because there’s many different steps involved) but it’s really cool to be involved. Some of the steps including assembling the mold, making and pouring cement, filtering sand for the filter, etc. The filters have been used all over the world, are made from cheap, sustainable local products (like sand and gravel), and remove at least 95% of the things in water that you shouldn’t be consuming. The most interesting part about the filters is that their effectiveness actually increases over time and if they’re built correctly they barely require any maintenance. Therefore, can filter water for a whole family indefinitely without any cost/energy inputs (except water).
*Hike to the Top of a Nearby Mountain – We didn’t do this because I’m not a great hiker, but it sounds really interesting. A local tour guide can take you on a hike up the mountain. Not only are there beautiful views, and tons of interesting history, but you can also learn a lot about the landscape and plats (such a medicinal uses) along the way. The pictures I’ve seen from the hike are beautiful.
Walk around the communities to see local activities (such as meeting neighbours, learning about farming, visit the river, and see/eat at a fish farm) – While our dough for bread was rising on Sunday morning we were able to take a walk around some of the local communities. We saw different parts of the river, walked near many different types of farm land with various crops, saw the harvesting of tomatoes (this depends on the season), and visited a fish farm (which apparently makes very delicious fresh fish for lunch, but we already had other plans). The total walk probably only took 1.5 hours and wasn’t very strenuous. *You also have the option of working with an oxen to learn how they plow the fields on a nearby farm.
During a relaxing holiday, you don’t always have to do a million activities which fill up your day. Some of my favourite parts of getting away from the city are taking an opportunity to relax and enjoy your surroundings. Here are a few of the things you can do at Oasis Boliviano to enjoy your time in the peace and quiet of the valley.
- *Bring your friends for a game of volleyball or soccer
- *Let the kids take a swing on the play structure
- Have a nap (or a beer/wine) in the hammock
- Enjoy a meal in the garden
- *Try your hand at a game of pool (billiards)
- Take a walk by the river
- Feel refreshed in the pool on a sunny day
- Watch a movie (Spanish or English) in your room on the small, portable DVD player
- Lie in the grass or sit on a chair on the porch and watch the stars and fireflies at night
- *Make a fire in the outdoor fire-pit while trying a few local beverages (like Singani or Pacena)
Note: It is sometimes possible to get cellphone/internet reception here, but not always. Don’t count on being reachable for the time you’re there. In fact, after a few hours I just turned off my phone (only using it for photos) and tried to enjoy the relaxing feeling of being disconnected for the world for a few days.
We had an amazing sleep at Oasis Boliviano. Not only are the beds comfortable but it’s SO quiet compared to the city! In Sucre there are always dogs barking, motorcycles revving outside, and car alarms going off all night. But Teja Huasi is so quiet and we slept really well without waking up at all! The hotel currently has three different rooms (with either 2 single beds or a queen bed), but they might start building cabins in the near future. We used the queen bed, and our room even had a nice patio attached. If you want to spend less money, you also have the option of camping in their large yard – which would give you a good chance to enjoy the stars and a camp-fire before heading to your tent to sleep. There are also two hammocks on the front-porch, which are wonderful for a mid-afternoon siesta.
Oasis Boliviano is a totally vegetarian hotel. I know a lot of people who aren’t vegetarian think that is scary idea, but it’s actually great. A lot of local Bolivian food is vegetarian, and most of the vegetables and fruits that they get are from their garden or other local neighbours whenever possible. In fact, while we were there we went to go pick up tomatoes from a neighbour as their harvest was coming in. In Bolivia, there are many different protein sources that don’t come from meat, such as quinoa, eggs, and different types of beans. The property also contains hundreds of different fruit trees, so depending on the season you might be able to eat mangoes, oranges, or avocados right off the tree! One of their neighbours also had a great fish restaurant where he grows his own fish, and you can go eat there one day if you like fish.
There are three different ways to get to Teja Hausi from Sucre (and we tried 2 of them). *The third option is biking (mostly downhill), which I hear is really fun (but we didn’t try it because I can’t ride a bike)!
- On the way to Oasis Boliviano from Sucre on Friday afternoon we decided to check out public transport. It actually wasn’t too bad. You just catch a local bus near the city centre. Then you get off after the bus terminal and take a mini-bus into the valley. The journey probably takes 1-2 hours depending on traffic and how long you have to wait, and costs about 10 Bs ($2) per person. This method of transport is definitely a bit harder, but a lot more interesting and adventurous (and cheaper)!
- On the way back, we were joined by 2 other friends of ours from Sucre. With 4 people, it made the most sense to take a cab/taxi. The cost was only 60-70 Bs (about $12-$14), which is only slightly more per person than taking public transportation (15-17 Bs vs 10 Bs per person), and takes way less time (only about 30 minutes).
Check out the Oasis Boliviano website for detailed instructions!
I just wanted to say a big shout out to Janilee and Trevor for making sure we have a wonderful stay at Oasis Boliviano in Teja Huasi! It’s an amazing place, and so interesting to learn about the local culture. We had such a relaxing time by the pool, having a potluck with friends, and of course, drinking wine in the hammock! I would definitely recommend this place to other people who are working/living/studying/travelling near Sucre! 🙂