After catching a very bumpy and long train from the border between Brazil and Bolivia we arrived in Santa Cruz knowing time wasn’t on our side.
We caught a taxi to the centre and found a cheap hostel with some dodgy beds and set about finding breakfast.
We found a mercado (market) that was, on one side raw fish and meats with fruits and vegetables, then on the other side it was a mass of mini kitchens. It felt a lot like being in Asia again for a brief moment.
Our first meal in Bolivia was steak, egg, rice, stir fried veg and mandioca all for a bank breaking 89p (10B). I could not believe how cheap it was and how tasty it was for the price. We returned to the mercado 4 times after for some great, cheap food.
Exploring the City
The first thing you notice about Santa Cruz is a lack of high rises anywhere. It looks like a little town yet has the biggest population of any city in Bolivia.
We were only a few blocks from the central Plaza 24 de Septiembre which is really nice to stroll around. It has some beautiful architecture and a church with a bell tower. You can climb to the top of the bell tower (3B, 27p) for a decent view over the Plaza and also a lot of the city.
Theres not a lot else to do around the centre but there are some half decent places to eat. There is an amazing pizzeria hidden behind a Casa de Cambio (currency exchange) in the main Plaza and an ice cream shop, Picos, that had probably the best fajitas I’ve ever tasted in my life!
We caught a ‘mini’ (basically a camper van converted into a miniature bus the locals use a lot) to the zoo and got in a very long queue to pay the 90p entrance fee!
You would of thought for 90p it would of been as bad if not worse as that zoo in Mendoza but we were pleasantly surprised to find the zoo was in, near enough, top condition.
The Zoológico is a collection of animals specifically from the South American region so there are macaws, toucans, caiman, snakes, spiders, condors, jaguars, monkeys plus a hell of a lot more. Well worth the entrance fee for that side of it.
The downside is of course the people. They seemed to think it was OK to throw almost empty bottles of juice to the monkeys and someone else was yelling at the top of his voice to get an animal to move for him. I suppose you can’t legislate for who is going to be there doing that sort of thing so I imagine if I went again it would be fine, I hope so anyway!
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