My First Few Days in Bolivia

Trip Start May 30, 2009
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Where I stayed
Jodanga Backpacker's Hostel

Flag of Bolivia  , Santa Cruz,
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

So I write my first entry on my third day of my first experience in a third world country.  Personally I wasn't really prepared for all the poverty here. Though it's nothing like the horrific scenes you see in Africa on TV, its still disquieting. The city itself is really dirty. Many migrants from western Bolivia sell random stuff on the street carrying their infants while doing so.  Today I saw a man whose legs didn't work and obviously could not afford a wheelchair just dragging himself around on the ground.  

Anyway the flight over was relatively pain free, LAN is a great airline, it was cheap, the plane was new and clean, and the food was decent (as far as airline food goes).  As we were landing, just minutes after we started our descent into Lima I could look to my left and see that we were lower than some of the peaks in the Andes coming up through the clouds.  Once in the Lima airport, I quickly forgot any Spanish I knew when someone started talking to me.  After a long layover I transfered to a flight to Santa Cruz with a stop in La Paz.  The weather was too windy around La Paz to land but we did get to circle around Lake Titicaka a bit which provided some absolutely stunning views.  Anyway I landed in Santa Cruz and spent a really hectic night trying to find Bolivianos and a Hotel with space (I eventually found a cheap hotel).

Santa Cruz is not a very nice city.  I write this now having experienced a few smaller nicer towns in the area.  People are generally not very friendly, the streets are dirty and there is not much to see.  There are a couple of markets and souvenir shops, but not much in terms of shopping.  The one upside is there are many different food options, some of which are quite good.

One thing of interest to report here is the drivers are crazy, and I mean nuts, they make NYC drivers seem like old people.  They fly around the city, many intersections have no lights or stop signs, so people (pedestrians and drivers) kinda just go when they feel like it, which is a little nerve-wracking.

The one really enjoyable experience I had was going to the Guembe Biocentre.  They had a butterfly dome and a bird exhibit, complete with toucans, macaws, sloths, and squirrel monkeys, as well as pools, for swimming and for paddling, and an island full of monkeys.  Plus the people there are friendly and they have English speaking tour guides.

I did enjoy staying at the Jodanga Hostel, however, as I met a lot of very interesting travelers there who had tons of advice on traveling around South America as well as some great stories.

Other than that nothing too interesting to report from Santa Cruz, we had to stay there a little longer due to us being in Bolivian Time ( a concept I have learned to know and love, people here really take their time with things), so we got out of the city and went to Samaipata...
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