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Friday, September 25, 2009

Santa Cruz

Potosi stayed behind and the road to Sucre was taken once again. A connection to Santa Cruz, the wealthiest state in the country awaits me. After a small discussion with one of the tickets agencies I got a ticket in the last seat of the bus. I don't know if this was the worst bus ride of my life, but the asfalt ended like an hour after our departure. Then I lost count of the rivers we crossed (and by crossing I don't mean going over it using a bridge!). A tire exploded, fortunately when the bus was fighting to climb up a mountain. People around me kept coughing and sneezing and throwing garbage to the floor of the bus and through the windows. Well, this is the real Bolivia, that people kept talking about...

Why coming to Santa Cruz. The guide doesn't mention much about it, not many touristic atractions. Well, I'm going to meet Dario's brother (me and Dario used to live in the same corridor in Utrecht when we were exchange students) and hang out with his friends for a couple of days. Meeting locals and talking about their lives is one of the things I appreciate the most. I decided to stay in a cheap hotel very close to the city center. Not the cosiest place in the world, but I've stayed in worse places...

And Santa Cruz was only partying and meeting Diego's friends. It was really nice and funny, but after two days in the city I was ready to keep moving.

From Santa Cruz there are 3 or 4 options, tourist wise I mean. One is to go back to real Bolivia and head on to La Paz. Another is to take the "death train" to Brasil and visit the pantanal. Another is to move north and visit an National Park in the Amazonia. The last one and probably the one least people choose is to make the Missions circuit. The Jesuits once created a Theocratic state in this part of South America. They had the support of the local Indian (Guaranis) and since they were located in a very remote area, Portugal and Spain had no control over them for many years. Today the missions are no longer a missionary place. They were abandoned shortly after the Jesuits were expeled around the end of the 18th century, but the Indian settlements continued and today they are small cities that grew up around the missions. Left abandoned the missions almost disappeared, until UNESCU decided to make them a world heritage site. Today they have all been recovered. Appart from going to La Paz all the other options were quite expensive so, I decided to leave La Paz for when I returned to Santa Cruz after visiting the missions.

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