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Oh, look dinosaurs!

Written on: Thursday January 3rd, 2008

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Sucre, Bolivia 

Author: Julie 


We arrived at Sucre at 6 AM tired, dirty and ready to lay our head down on a pillow. We took a taxi to a recommended hotel in our book. The hotel seemed to be pretty quiet and we quickly checked into our room, closed the curtains and fell asleep till early afternoon. 

When we finally woke up we were starved and headed out to visit the city that we had only 24 hours to see. Our 30-day tourist visa was expiring soon and we only had a few days left before we had to be in Uyuni to the south and heading out of the country. We spent the afternoon wandering around the beautifully preserved city known as the ?The White City? for its white buildings built with volcanic Sillar rock. Many argue Sucre was the epicenter that initiated the independence campaign against Spain in all of Latin America. In 1839, the city became the capital of Bolivia, but after the economic decline of Potosí and its silver industry, it saw the Bolivian seat of government move to La Paz in 1898. It is still home to the Supreme Court. Ironically, Bolivia was the last territory to gain its independence in 1825. In 1991, Sucre became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is named after the revolutionary leader Antonio José de Sucre and not after the sugary sweet treat that most add to their coffee. 

We had come to Sucre for a particular reason, not just to admire the pretty plaza and historic buildings. There were dinosaurs in them thar hills! In 1994, dinosaur tracks were found at the Francesa Cement Mill located 5 kilometers outside of town, with over 250 dinosaur tracks measuring up to 80cm in diameter. Up to now it is the largest dinosaur tracksite known on the planet, with the longuest track measuring over 350 meters in length. We boarded the Dino Truck to the mill and entered the world of DinoLand, a sort of amusement park filled with life-sized dinosaur models, representing the various types that had left the tracks up to 68 million years ago. For the first time since our travels, and probably not the last time, we were charged a higher rate (30bs) to enter the park than the locals (10bs). I?m fine with these different price ranges if it means more local people can access their heritage sites but it would be nice on our budget to pay the much cheaper price, but I?m not complaining over a 3$ difference. 

Our included an English speaking guide, who showed us around the park quickly and providing us details on each model dinosaur. We saw Iguanodons, Carnotaurus, Ceratops, Plesiosaurs, Titanosaurs, Tyrannosaurs, Pterosaurs, etc. The last part of the tour is the viewing deck to the dinosaur tracks themselves. They are on vertical side of a mountain which was lifted during tectonic activities about 50,000 years go. They were discovered and preserved when the cement company found a layer of magnesium and stopped digging. Over time the magnesium wore away with the wind and rain and the limestone dinosaur tracks were exposed on the 25,000 square meter shear wall. Unfortunately, I thought we would be able to walk around near them but because this is still a working mine the closest we could get was at the viewing deck. It was still cool to experience the site where these huge ancient, behemoths roamed the earth and left their track. I can certainly say that I?m happy to never have met one during a walk in the woods; some of them are quite huge and scary looking. 

We walked around that night trying to find a nice restaurant. We knew there was a sushi restaurant but the menu didn?t have much on it so we settled on a nice looking Italian restaurant with mood lighting and a relaxed atmosphere. It turned out to be a good decision since we ordered their fondue for two. We had a large plate of chicken and beef, along with potatoes and huge chunks of cheese, a platter of salad and six different types of sauces. The only difference from what we are used to having as a fondue was that it was hot, boiling oil in the fondue pot and not a Chinese broth. It was delicious and we made sure to not leave any food behind when we left the restaurant.