Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Sat, 22 Mar 2008 12:30:53 +0000

"Train of Death" Index Happy Easter

The DVDs continued late into the evening. Some Adam Sandler vehicle was followed by The Departed. Then, at exactly 10:30, it was time for bed, so The Departed was turned off, about twenty minutes before the end. Shocking. And so I tried to sleep. And the biggest problem? It was freezing. The air conditioning ran mercilessly all night, and I was forced to dig out the sleeping bag to drape over me. But that worked, and I seem to have slept about eight hours again. It's the continuous timezone shifting that does it: days average about 24.5 hours, which suits my natural rhythm perfectly.

Arrival in Santa Cruz was about half an hour late, but still fairly early in the morning. There were a reasonable number of tourists about, and I chatted to a couple of guys from Bielefeld in German and English for a bit. They headed off for Buena Vista, while I took a taxi to the hostel. But first I bought some street food. Three bolivianos for a couple of delicious deep-fried things and some slices of a starchy root vegetable that I'm not familiar with. Finding cheap food is clearly not going to be a problem in Bolivia.

The taxi cost 10 bolivianos. A boliviano is worth about a quarter of a Brazilian real, and taxis were costing me 10 reals in Corumba, so crossing the border makes a big difference. Santa Cruz is the richest city in Bolivia, by the way.

Not that that makes it Manhattan. Instead, Santa Cruz turns out to be a perfectly charming town. In the bus station, I'd seriously considered pushing straight on to La Paz, and only stayed because I really need a decent shower. I'm glad I did so. The main square is a glorious place to sit and just hang out, which certainly seems to be what the locals use it for.

There are some very nice benches with chess board tables where some serious and not-so-serious games are played. A little later on, a guy I took for a stand-up comic attracted a large crowd, but it turned out that he was doing some anti-smoking propaganda. I've heard of this kind of public health initiative, and apparently it's very successful. This guy certainly had the crowd's attention.

At the cathedral, there was some kind of service going on, and the preacher was giving it some serious wellie, which is also something I like to see. The cathedral itself is a fantastic brick affair, looking great in the sunshine.

I found the market, and had an early lunch. 7 Bolivianos bought me this much:

Fried chicken, rice, spaghetti, potato, more unidentified root vegetables, and the brown thing at the bottom was a banana fritter and was utterly gorgeous.

I haven't actually spent all that much time out in the city. The hostel turns out to really be a hotel, despite being YHA, and so I'm splurging on a single room. I therefore had a nap in the afternoon underneath the fan, and dried out the sweat of the morning. I'm in no hurry in Santa Cruz, and that seems to be the best way to enjoy it.

"Train of Death" Index Happy Easter