Welcoming Will to Santa Cruz

After a few weeks of living the “high life” in Bolivia (and we literally mean high – Sucre is over 2700 m above sea level, while La Paz is more than 3600 m), we decided to head down to the low lands for some easy breathing and warmer weather while we wait for a latest travel companions.

Simon, the pet toucan at our hostel

Our destination: Santa Cruz, the country’s booming metropolis and also Bolivia’s largest city. With over two million people living in the city, the tropical Santa Cruz is not only a sweet relief from the thin, dry air of Bolivia’s other major cities but it is as ritzy as this landlocked country gets. Walking down the streets of Santa Cruz feels more like perusing the streets of Santiago or Buenos Aires. Designer eye-glass shops, bridal stores and Burger King abound in Santa Cruz, demonstrating the true taste of Bolivia wealth.

Basilica Menor de San Lorenzo in the main plaza of Santa Cruz

An ice cream man bikes past a municipal building in downtown Santa Cruz

Referred to the breadbasket of Bolivia, in the past Santa Cruz and it’s inhabitants have often tried to detach themselves from national politics. The city’s residents are primarily Spanish decedents which has led to tension between Bolivia’s indigenous president, Evo Morales and the wealthy elites of Santa Cruz. As a result, a recent movement in the eastern province for regional autonomy has been growing. Since most of the country’s natural resources, including natural gas, are found in the east, Santa Cruz has tremendous pull on national affairs.

As the internal strife between indigenous rights and the wealthy elites continues, Santa Cruz stands to have an incredible impact on the future of South America’s poorest country. Yet, while the battle for Bolivia’s distribution of wealth and power continues, we took our time soaking up the Santa Cruz lifestyle. As is the Bolivian fashion, we dined on chorizo con pan accompanied with a flavorful tomato salsa (also known as choripan from a street vendor), appreciated the local wildlife (we went to the zoo) and took part in the local festivities (we bought Bolivian cervezas from a corner store). All in all, we truly devoured the luxurious Santa Cruz experience.

Leah and Will enjoying the bears at Jardin Zoologico

A tortoise at the Santa Cruz Zoo

A lonely jaguar

Gill's favourite, the slow-moving sloth

The journey so far