South America | Bolivia | Santa Cruz – Adventures in Santa Cruz
The journey started off well – very entertaining in fact! I don’t know if I’ve described the circus that the start of a South American bus journey entails, so i will do it now.
Once the bus leaves the station, someone stands up, first announcing that they don’t want money. They then talk for 10 or 15 minutes – it might be a sermon, it might be a sales pitch, but it’s always amusing. This
time, the speaker launched into a quiz, giving away pendants made of shells to the winners and Hector managed to win one for me,so I will forever have a memory of Bolivian bus rides! The whole thing was of course leading into a sale of jewellery.
Next you stop to pick up more passengers, the jewellery salesman hopped off and an entourage of vendors jump aboard selling fruit, sandwiches, vases, hats – you name it! While a young boy walks the aisle singing and hoping for a few spare coins, the next salesman begins his speil. We can see the next guy waiting for his turn and sure enough once the book seller has collected his earnings, a blind man starts singing. You could spend a lot of cash on a bus here! We drop them all off in the middle of nowhere and wait for the next lot. Like I said, the journey was entertaining to start with.
What was not entertaining was waking up at 6am to find we’ve been stopped on a dirt track for the past hour and cannot continue until the rain stops and the sun rises. Three hours later we start to move again and eventually arrive in Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz is theopposite of La Paz – its suburbs are wealthy and attractive,leaving you a little disappointed when you reach the somewhat messy city centre. Still it’s a tropically warm place which makes a nice change from the Andean highlands and we find a place to stay in the heart of the market – so not far to walk for breakfast!
Friday 25th May
Bolivia’s second city is a pleasant place to idle for a couple of days, although it’s not brimming over with tourist attractions. It’s not a place you’d like to visit if you were on a diet. I imagine Homer Simpson would be in heaven. You can hardly move for people selling cakes, crisps, burgers, salte?as (the local version of an empanada) – it’s great, though a good job I’m not staying too long.
After a visit to the very helpful tourist information office, we set about searching for the sloths that Lonely Planet insist live in the trees of the main Plaza. I hunted and hunted in every tree and could I find one? Of course not. And then Hector looks in one tree and 2 minutes later he has found a pair of them. I was starting to think it was all a ruse to make fools of the foreigners. Or worse still, to distract them and steal their wallets. Must learn to be less pessimistic!!
We explored the rest of the city centre – the park and lagoon and 2 other markets – before returning to our residencial. For once we ventured out in the evening and after a meal in front of a wide screen TV
(showing films in English!!) we stopped off in a locals’ bar. We were joined by the town drunk (perhaps a bit harsh, but he’d certainly had a few!) who promptly bought us another round! He was a nice enough bloke, but insisted on showering us when he spoke –
the last thing you need when there’s torrential rain outside is an extra shower! Once the rain slowed down we made our excuses and left. Our latest night of the
trip so far – 11 pm!!!