Santa Cruz - big trip - diary - bolivia - may 2003

Cutting off the rattly silencer

Family transport

Our favourite restaurant

Thursday 8 - Monday 12 May

Entering Santa Cruz from the west entails a long speedbump filled road enclosed by ribbons of houses and the usual people and animals wandering across the tarmac. The temperature is comfortably warm even though its almost dark, a first for a long time and it feels good. We head for the centre and find a cheap but reasonable hotel near a car park. Too knackered to search around for better ones so this will do. After a quick wander about around the centre we crashed.

The main attractions of Santa Cruz

Kids sleeping on the street may become...

...slightly older kids selling themselves

After an uncomfortable nights sleep in the ubiquitos 'U' shaped beds we decided to change hotels for a cheaper one near the bus station, always a good place for budget accommodation. Then it was time for landy repairs - handily most of the car repair places are all in one long street, as is the norm in latin america. First we dropped off the spare to have its puncture fixed, then changed the gearbox oil. Not too many bits of metal on the magnetic drain plug despite reverse gear being almost totally knackered. At the moment we can reverse for about 5 metres before the gear jumps out and it has to be re-engaged. A bit of a pain but fine so long as we keep going forwards!

On picking up the spare the garage guy said we could use his yard to look at our dodgy braking situation. Taking off the rear hub we discovered the seal had gone and leaked grease all over the brake shoes, yet again. We found that the rear axle breather pipe has been trapped between chassis and cab floor for probably a long time, might have something to do with these constant leaks. Whilst working there we met a couple of likely lads who told us that brand new ripped off Brasilian landys sell for $8000 at a secret location near the border - "hey, this is Bolivia" they excused. One of them turned out to be ravingly homosexual and said he wanted to have T's baby, hahaha!! Lastly we had the rattling rear exhaust silencer cut off and a straight pipe welded in its place.

How the other half live, one of their three houses

where for art thou?

An excuse for terrible mountain pass roads

The daytimes in Santa Cruz we spent chilling, the evening is a different story though. With the best looking girls in Bolivia and some of the best nightlife its a great place for the intrepid traveller. We met some rich and beautiful sisters who invited us to their huge house for beers on Sunday. Its good to get to see some contrasts in lifestyles now and again. This is especially true here because the streets around our hotel are busy with the bustle of city life. We ate every day in a streetside cafe with plastic chairs, the price of a two course meal a shocking $1, really tasty too. More shocking were the three barely-teenage girls who offered themselves to us for $4 each. We decided buying them a $0.75 meal and making a quick getaway was a better idea.

Left overs


Fields and jungle

Come Monday it's time to hit the road north west through fertile fields which lead into jungle and then mountains. We began to leave the plains behind and climb into the hills. The sun got lower and so did the temperatures as the road turned from smooth asphalt to potholed gravel. Lorrys crawled along and there were many broken down by the side of the road with ridiculously unsafe looking piles of stones acting as supports while guys lying underneath stripped down broken gearboxes and differentials. Signs proclaimed that this was a geologically unstable area as an excuse for washed out mountainside roads. Views were great but would have been better in daylight. Not being able to spot anywhere decent to camp we pushed on to Cochabamba, being rewarded with a wicked view of the city lit up and then with a perfect choice of cheap but good hotel with car park too.

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