For the second leg of our Sucre adventure, we managed to find a fantastic homestay, that just so happened to be just around the corner from the hostal we were staying in and much closer to Sucre´s main attractions. We stayed with a homestay mammy, who had two kids, a 13 year old daughter and a 19 year old son who was studying in cochabamba. Everybody was immediately welcoming and keen on getting us involved in the family affairs. We always spent Almuerzo (lunch) as a family and when Niko (the son) wasn´t around, I was always nominated as the clean up man, polishing off all the left overs, which went down very well with Liz our host mam. In Bolivia and most Spanish speaking nations, food should never be left over and they find it very appreciative if everything is polished off, so the arrangement was fine for me. The family lifestyle and daily routine fitted in perfectly with our lessons and we easily slipped into a permanent and comfortable routine ourselves.
We knew when we moved into the house that our homestay mam worked in a travel agent, what we didn´t know was that this travel agent was owned by her and her family and that the company name was named after the ´Haciendo Candelaria´ which is a 16th century country estate which originally came with 1000 hectares of land in the Tarabuco region of Bolivia and is owned by Liz´s family. The estate now has only 100 hectares and instead of being used solely for agriculture, the family use it to host tours around the local area, to visit local weavers, crop growers etc and the famous Tarabuco market. We had the priveledge of tagging along for the weekend when there was a tour group heading out to Candelaria as part of the family! We were treated as extended members of the family and had the priveledge of meeting all of the permanent residents at Haciendo Candelaria, which were very hard to converse with given our and their limited Spanish, as they all spoke Quechuan. We were invited into the 16th century family kitchen to help prepare the guests food, which was equipped with a log fire stove and 40 year old pans! When we weren´t getting fed copious amounts of food or meeting new members of the Candelaria family, we were walking around the local area and meeting various weavers, who create beautiful tapestries which are a rich history among the indigenous people of Bolivia.
After our fantastic weekend away, we became even closer to the family and everything we did they were always invited and vice versa, truly becoming a part of their family. Luckily for us, they also shared the same attitude of ordering take away pizzas when you have a crappy day and luckily for all parties, we all had the same crappy day (which happened alot)!! It also helped with improving our Spanish and although we are not fluent or even intermediate level, our confidence is much higher from constantly forcing ourselves to speak Spanish everyday all day, although again when there were crappy days, sometimes they didn´t have the patience for our slow speach so English was sometimes too heavily relied on, but again it helped us to bond more and have more in depth conversations.
Luckily for Cheryl, her birthday fell when we were still in Sucre and still with our homestay family, unlike mine which was celebrated in Chaing Rai with a full english breakfast (very average) and monsoon rain!!! So as soon as Liz got wind of this, she wasn´t happy that we weren´t going to do anything, as we didn´t really have the money, so in Bolivian tradition, we threw a BBQ and I was ordered to not return to the house until I had some presents, on strict orders from Liz!! As the majority of the friends we had made in Sucre had now moved on to Peru or Argentina, we had a small intimate BBQ, which in the UK would be a pack of frozen burgers, some crappy cheese, 2Ls of cola and some salad. In Bolivia you get 40Bobs of prime cut steak, make enough cheesey rice to feed an army, bowls upon bowls of salad, buckets of beer and plenty of llajwa (spicy sauce) doesn´t sound a lot, but when the steak is the size of your head for each person and the spoons of cheesey rice are like troths, you get very well fed quickly. Also to add is that this is probably some of the best steak hands down, I have ever had and it cost under 10quid for about half a cow!!!!!
Our final week with the family was a very sombre one as we knew we were parting ways and had became so close, to the point that on a daily basis we kind of relied on each other for one thing or another, as a family naturally does. It was so easy for us to become complacent there and if we didn´t have so much of South America to see, we would have definately stayed there for a very, very long time. Our homestay mam spent the whole week persuading us not to leave and that she would find us work in Sucre or that we could stop joking about leaving as she knew we were really staying. It really hit our hearts hard to have this kindness and warmth from somebody we have really bonded with over our 4 weeks stay. We also constantly talked about how we would meet up somewhere else in the world and if not we would come rushing back to Sucre to see them.
It was almost as if we were waving bye to home again for the 2nd time and we were both very glad our next stop was La Senda Verde, as the special experience we would have their would hopefully take our minds off leaving, but then when we come to leave LSV the whole process will repeat itself again, as we know it will be somewhere we won´t want to leave!