We drive the highway from San José de Chiquitos to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. The landscape quickly changes again and we have more cattle ranches and industry around us the closer we get to the city. In terms of landscape, there is nothing interesting on the route, so I drive through to the big city without a guilty conscience without a break.
I mentally prepare myself for a particularly corrupt police check that other travelers have warned me about. Apparently they do weekends, because nobody is at the described place.
Traffic in Santa Cruz is very crazy. We come through and meet our hosts Ludwig and Verusca, their two young children Ian and Mckenzie and their seven dogs.
Ludwig himself has German roots, but no longer speaks the language. His grandmother still speaks fluent German, he says.
WE Are WELCOMED TO A BOLIVIAN FAMILY
It’s paradise for Leon! We are received and we can park the car in the garden.
We are couchsurfing again! Despite being offered our own room, we sleep in the car. The two show us a lot of the city, go out to eat with us and tell us a lot about the country.
I visit Ludwig again a few days later and get to know his brother-in-law from Cochabamba. Both have been drinking heavily. I’m talking to him and I have some trouble understanding him because he speaks very fast. I ask Ludwig for help, but he is too busy showing me his estate in La Paz.
I ask you to repeat it again and Ludwig tells something about his poorer origin and also criminal life due to the circumstances and a different cultural background, where you sometimes need a knife…
this leads to an argument in which I feel very out of place. Nevertheless, the brother-in-law helps me to buy the cheap diesel for locals and in the end he sells me his identification number, with which I can fill up with gas anywhere in the country for a third of the price.
The family used to brew beer and then switched to the coffee industry. He lived in the USA for a long time and left two children there.
He then lived in La Paz and in Cochabamba, where he also left two children and has now settled in Santa Cruz to father two children.
PEOPLE MEET TO PLAY CHESS IN THE PARK
We’ll be staying in Santa Cruz for at least two weeks to find some kids for Leon to play with, get his doctor checked and make improvements to the car.
After a few days we say goodbye to Ludwig and Verusca and look for our own accommodation. Not only so that we have a little more peace and we got electric shocks from Ludwig in the shower. The new accommodation is not bad: the newest high-rise “Macororo 10” in the best area of the city, top floor apartment.
We have lived more modestly. Other Bolivians’ jaws drop when they hear about our accommodation. It was just one of the cheapest deals on AirBnB.
We also find a kindergarten for Leon nearby. He is the star among the supervisors. Meanwhile, I can fix some things on the car.
A problem in the city is that many poor people, especially children, sniff glue and become addicted to it. In the store, glue is already locked away with the alcohol.
The weather is getting hotter and the wind is picking up. It starts to storm but stays hot. Trees bend, garbage cans fall over and it blows dust in our eyes. It’s like standing behind a turbine. Everything will be blown away.
We cook at the accommodation or eat out. As always, you can find empanadas or lomitos. Yuca and potatoes, rice and above all and with all meat. chicken or beef. Rarely pork, and if so, then only in the form of chorizo. A typical dish is majao, a portion of stimulus with meat fibers, yuca, tomato and onion, usually served with a fried egg and fried plantains.
In Santa Cruz we are reminded for the first time that Covid-19 has not yet been forgotten. We have to wear masks in all stores.
The traffic rules in Bolivia are crazy. Sometimes right before left, sometimes vehicles are waiting for me on the right on a much larger street. Everyone sometimes drives through a red traffic light on command without explaining what made the difference.
I mostly spend my days making changes for us along the way. I’ve been looking to no avail for propane for our stove, a replacement for my old water pump, and a GoPro mount for the screen to get a dash cam. You either have to roam the markets and ask, or use the marketplace on Facebook. This is very frustrating as the people there are extremely unreliable.
It is hazy every day, but one day the haze changes to smoke. Apparently there are fierce forest fires not far from Santa Cruz.
Already on the journey through the east of Bolivia we see many Mennonites. In Santa Cruz, too, one sometimes has the feeling of being transported back two hundred years.
We are leaving Santa Cruz (9/5/2022) with the good news that my brother’s twins were born well. Just a short trip brings us to a town, where we observe a sloth in the trees.