By far the most popular excursion from Sucre is to the small rural town of TARABUCO, set amid crumpled brown mountains about 60km southeast of the city. The town itself is an unremarkable collection of red-tiled adobe houses and cobbled streets leading to a small plaza with a modern church, but its real claim to fame is its Sunday market, which acts as a focus for the indigenous communities of the surrounding mountains, the so-called Tarabuceños, who come to sell the beautiful weavings for which they’re famous throughout Bolivia. The market is a bit of a tourist trap – there are usually several busloads of foreign tourists in attendance – but it’s still principally geared towards the indigenous campesinos of the surrounding region, and the stalls selling weavings and other handicrafts to tourists are far outnumbered by those selling basic supplies such as dried foodstuffs, agricultural tools, sandals made from tyres, big bundles of coca and pure cane alcohol. If you walk a few blocks away from the centre of town you can still see campesinos engaging in trueque, a traditional Andean system of non-monetary trade in which agricultural products from different ecological zones are exchanged according to standard ratios – potatoes for maize, dried llama meat for oranges, and so on.
You can pick up some nice souvenirs at the market, though it’s best to have some idea of quality and price before you arrive (have a look at things on sale on the streets of Sucre). Small items like decorative chuspa coca-bags make good mementoes; larger items like ponchos and shawls cost a lot more. Be prepared to bargain, but not too hard: many of the sellers are poor campesinos who may be desperate to sell something so they can buy essential goods to take home to their families. Photographing people without permission is considered rude and can provoke an angry reaction: ask first, and be prepared to pay a few bolivianos for the privilege. If you want a less touristy experience, try one of Candelaria Tours’ trips to Candelaria village.