The story of how a backpacking couple turned a local watering hole into a nationally known restaurant and tour company
Travelers in Bolivia looking to get away from the usual backpacking circuit are increasingly finding themselves in Sucre. Unlike the more popular destinations like Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, the salt flats near Uyuni and the mines of Potosi, Sucre offers the modern amenities of a large city, without losing the small town feel (about 200,000 residents).
For intrepid hikers, a lesser-known Inca trail in Sucre traverses through orange and green mountain ranges and an ancient crater. Also, the unspoiled Seven Waterfalls --comparable to Argentina´s Iguazu Falls -- lie just outside the city limits.
Often, travelers extend their time in Sucre by enrolling in Spanish lessons. The number of schools offering language, cooking and dance lessons has taken off in recent years. Because of this many travelers find themselves in this charming city for days or weeks longer than they had planned..
This happened with one couple who came to Sucre in 2007 – they stayed far longer than even they had anticipated. In November of 2007, husband and wife Lorenzo and Tina Rauco took over Joy Ride, a pub on the southeast end of the city´s central square. In a few short months the two transformed it from a seedy hangout to a full-fledged bar, restaurant and dance club -- and more recently, a tour business. Today, it boasts the distinction of being the city´s ´it´ place for both locals and gringos.
The pair didn´t come to the city looking to take over a business. Like so many others backpacking through Bolivia, they planned to stay a few days, and then eventually make their way back home, in their case, to Italy.
"I was drawn to the color, the white colonial architecture, but it was my husband who fell in love with Sucre," Tina said of her first impression of the city. The couple found themselves having lunch in the Joy Ride one day never realizing their lives would soon turn in a different direction. Through casual conversation, the Rauco’s learned the Dutch owner was looking to sell the seven-year-old bar and restaurant – their reactions to the news differed.