Santa Cruz - Getting with nature
Santa Cruz Travel Blog› entry 50 of 77 › view all entries
Jo-danga Hostel is relatively expensive for a Bolivian Hostel, but a nice place with a lovely swimming pool. There were only two drawbacks to the place - plumbing and a big bunch of tools.
I made the mistake of using the toilet next to our room for a post mexican meal movement. Not so much of a problem until I pulled the handle - the bowl simply filled up with a bit more water. I had a shower (I was going to have one anyway - the movement wasn't that bad) and then had a second crack at the flush. Shit - the evidence wasn't going anywhere.
A bit of basic investigation led me to the conclusion that the cistern wasn't filling sufficiently. I ended up having to fill the bin from the shower to manually flush the toilet - more trauma than I usually expect from a toilet visit.
There was a group of about ten people who had been 'volunteering' at a semi-local big cat sanctuary. I tend to find large groups of like-minded individuals somewhat trying - these people were no exception.
Hearing once that someone took a puma for a walk and ate some termites is gently interesting, when each of the ten people has mentioned it ten times then it gets old. Added to this were a load of cliches like, 'really making a difference, man' and 'but worth it to see the smiles on those cats faces' (that's a cliche for orphans and such - cats don't smile you c***)
The actual deal for most of these people was that their parents had paid a large sum of cash to an animal sanctuary and in return the sanctuary let them get slightly involved in cleaning cages and walking the animals - effectively a long and expensive zoo visit with a little bit more interaction for your money.
For daytime activities I took a trip to the local Botanical Gardens one day and the Butterfly-arium another day.
The botanical garden was a fair distance out of town, needing a taxi to get there and back. Nice trees, a few butterflies and then we got lost. The gardens were a lot bigger than they appeared from the map, consisted of a lot of forest and also had a linited number of signposts.
We ended up wandering for hours down little tracks, full of muddy pools.
A few days later I ventured to the buttrfly park with one of the Norwegians. By this stage my camera was in a sad state; I'd managed to buy a dodgy charger but the battery had become loose, the focusing was jerky and the lense had a fairly nasty scratch - recent pics may not be as good as they could be.
The butterfly park was a beautiful park, although a bit lacking in butterfly. In the plants outside there were loads of them, however inside the butterfly cage there were only about ten butterflies, odd.
There was however also a turtle-arium and a bird-arium with parrots, toucans and peacocks. After visiting the animals we went for a swim in the parks pools, complete with sandy pool bottom (of the pool - not some kind of illness) and fake waterfalls. I ended up getting sunburnt.
On Sunday evening we went to the ice-cream place in the centre of town and stuffed ourselves before walking back to the hotel. It was the evening, but hordes of Bolivians were out and about in parks and plazas. We walked through a small square behind the cathederal which was one of the most dreamlike experiences I've had recently.
The square was surrounded by handicraft stalls selling all manner of strange wooden goods, but also luminous wands - like electric sparklers for children. From somewhere there were the strains of haunting music and the air in the square was also filled with bubbles, although it was not clear where from.
Various people drifted around with children running around their legs, often waving the luminous wands. Every so often people grouped to watch a performer, a juggler, a clown making love to a lamp post. Finally a huge Saint Bernard appeared, next to a young woman with a s saint bernard hat. Apparently you could have your photo taken.
I saw a woman with JIZZ written on her T-shirt and my camera malfunctioned again. That was the final straw, time to get a replacement.
Overall Santa Cruz was quite a nice place although uncomfortably hot and humid and not somewhere to spend too much time. The Norwegians wanted to stay another week to finish their Spanish essays, so it was 'time to go solo', as Vanilla Ice so famously said.