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Friday, 03 July 2009

Finding Joy in Sucre, Bolivia - Page 2

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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).

At the time, the country was in the throes of social unrest. Politicians were opposed to President Evo Morales´ so-called ´agrarian revolution´ and called for greater state autonomy from the central government. The last thing on Tina´s mind was to make such a huge investment in what was then, an unstable country. But Lorenzo had other ideas.

"Back then there were a lot of problems with the social conflict,” said Tina. “We went back to Italy, and my husband was constantly talking about buying the restaurant. He insisted we go back to Bolivia on another trip in November of 2007 and when we got here, he told me he had bought the place. I thought he was crazy. I didn´t want to stay -- we had a six-year-old son and a life back in Italy. I told him I was going back."

Tina and her son did go back, and her husband stayed in Sucre to head up the family´s new business. A month later, Tina went against her doubt and decided to return to the city. It was better to have the family together in one place.

Finding Joy in Sucre, Bolivia, Joy Ride, a pub in Sucre, travel sucre, Bolivia, living in Bolivia, Mark Kennedy

Learning Curve

Having come back to help shape the new family business, the next hurdle that Tina, a tourism operator by trade, had to face was learning to speak the language. "At first it was difficult. I didn´t speak Spanish, whereas my husband had some grasp of the language. I started language classes but learned most of what I know now while working. The people of this city are so friendly and helpful if you try to speak to them."

A few months later Tina had all but mastered the language. She was now ready to put some of her own ideas for the Joy Ride in motion.

At the time, gringo-friendly bars offering tour operator referrals were very common in Sucre. When the Rauco’s took over, something new popped up -- the Joy Ride Tourism Office. Mr. and Mrs. Rauco became the first entrepreneurs in the city to officially bridge the divide between its two biggest pastimes: drinking and outdoor adventure.

Finding Joy in Sucre, Bolivia, Joy Ride, a pub in Sucre, travel sucre, Bolivia, living in Bolivia, Mark Kennedy Today, it´s not uncommon to find familiar faces in Joy Ride for hours at a time. Patrons stopping in for a leisurely mid-afternoon lunch, staying for the seven o´clock film in the third floor lounge, then drinking and dancing till the early hours of dawn is a regular occurrence for more than a few backpackers and hip young Bolivians. The same faces can also be found staggering back to Joy Ride in the morning for a much needed ´Hangover Breakfast,´ which is one of the restaurants top selling items.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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