I went to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, from December 27 to January 12, 2009. Now this country IS Latin America! There is a definite gap between rich and poor, and a large indigenous population. I attached this darling picture of a little bolivian indigenous girl who was dancing to a radio that she had with her(the radio is wrapped in a plastic bag in case it rains). I was glad to know the mother was close by (across the street) keeping an eye on her, but I was still sad that this little girls life was going to be like this for the rest of her life, there wouldn´t be much improvement.
Santa Cruz is the richest city in Bolivia because their main industries are: Petroleum, Natural Gas, Exporting of Soybeans, and Drug Trafficking. Everyone can afford to buy and drive a SUV! We were driving a Toyota Pathfinder and it cost US$3.00 to fill it up (20 pesos) and this is not a type-o!! The vegetation, trees, and flowers are so beautiful and growing everywhere. The fruit is so juicey and inexpensive, and there was fruit that I ate but still don´t know the name of. I could of eaten only fruit for two weeks and I wouldn´t have complained a bit. There were no police that I saw, but they do have military check points and they check for driving license, safety belts, and search your vehicle if they suspect drug or human trafficking. One thing I couldn´t believe was the drinking in the street. There was a zone very popular with the teenagers where they park their truck, and have HUGE speakers in the trunk and they blast the music, and drink, and dance. And to top it off there are vendors going up and down the street selling ice, beer, liquor, cups, etc. How crazy!
Next time I go to Santa Cruz, I am going to bring an empty suitcase because the clothes and shoes are half the price as it is in Cordoba and the quality is much better. I don´t like to shop, but the bargains are so good, its hard to resist!
There are hardly any tourists in this town, so the prices are not inflated. For example the hotel we stayed in was $25 night, and our newly-made friend, Juan Carlos from New York, was staying in a hostal for $6 night!
New Year´s Eve was alot of fun. This is what we got for US$65.00: We arrived at 11 pm and got a Piña Colada in a bamboo glass, then they started bringing appetizers to our table every 30 minutes or so, there was an Open Bar the whole night (the drink of choice in Santa Cruz is Whiskey...yuck), and at midnight we had Champagne. There was a live salsa band and a then a DJ during breaks. They served dinner at 3 am. The music and the band played until 6 am. We went back to the truck and slept until 9 am. Then we got up and we had breakfast in the resort´s restaurant. At 11 am we put on our swim suits and enjoyed the pool and the sun, and at about this time a DJ came and set up speakers and played music all afternoon by the pool. We left around 4 pm...a little hung over, really tired, and of course sunburnt. And all this was for just $65.00!! What a great New Year´s Eve we had!!