I arrived in Samaipata and didn´t really know what to expect. The only thing my Lonely Planet was mentioning were the pre-inca site ´El Fuerte´ and the Ruta Del Che. Samaipata has a very pleasing climate in the contrast with the chilly altiplano of La Paz. The temperature is a perfect 28 degrees and the humidity is very low, it´s like Tuscany or the South of France. And this is for me the surprise about Bolivia. After I had seen Peru, I thought the whole of Bolivia was Altiplano. Not! You also see it on people´s faces; they smile much more then the Paceños. Back in Foz Do Iguazu (Bra), I met some people who had not been able to get into Bolivia because of political issues.
Indeed, nowadays the area around Santa Cruz is much richer than the rest of the country and it is striving towards more autonomy. For these reasons there were very little tourists, which made it very laid-back. However, I am sure this will be the place to be in Bolivia in the future for tourists. You can already see hotels and restaurants run by Europeans or Americans mushrooming there.
So I did the Ruta Del Che with a German and a Scottish girl. This is a very long trail through the area where the revolucionary Ernesto Che Guevara wanted to settle a base and a training camp for guerilleros, with the aim to spread out their activities all over South-America. The area is extremely beautiful and because of the climate, it must have been very easy for the guerrilleros to hide for weeks without starving or freezing to death.
[Vallegrande]-This is the little laundry-building where Che´s body was shown to the international press.
More-over I was told that this region of Bolivia is very much comparable with the Sierra Maestra in Cuba, where Che and Fidel Castro once chased the dictator Batista. Don´t get me wrong however, although I took this tour and although the man´s characteristic face had been looking at me from a poster on my bedroom for years (back in Sint-Niklaas), I can´t really sympathize with everything he stands for. I don´t think the social problems in South-America will be solved by just democratic discussion, more is needed. I don´t know what, if I knew, the solution would be easy. As a symbol against injustice and ´onverschilligheid´ Che can count bigtime, but his radicalism and fanatism I can´t follow; imagine him and his troops fully armed entering a village where little children were playing and where people just wanted to live in peace... That´s why his revolution in South-America didn´t succeed. In Cuba people wanted to get rid of the dictator Batista, but here people had their own plans for the future. Anyway, his asassination by CIA-backed Bolivian soldiers made him a martyr and nowadays he is being worshipped (or exploited as a touristic item).
I decided to leave Samaipata a few days later and go to Sucre. As the climate was so joyful, I decided to find a truck that would take me all the way. In this way I would have a 360 degrees overview over this piece of ´Douce Bolivie´.