This will be just a quick update of what we’ve been up to for the past week or so (I can’t believe it’s been that long already!)
There’s a few pictures we’ve taken HERE (http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=344267&l=8404891dc0&id=683619282).
We arrived in Santa Cruz, in the southeast of Bolivia a few days ago. It’s hot, humid, and generally uninteresting here. Our first night we stayed at a nice hostel (Residencial Bolivar, I think) – it had a beautiful leafy patio, complete with resident toucan. Yes, toucan – we didn’t even have to go to the rainforest to see one! The downside was that it was the most expensive place we’ve stayed yet in Bolivia, and while it did have wifi, it was too slow to do much. But, on the bright side, it had lots of sparkling clean bathrooms with hot water. The rest of the day was uneventful – Tyler had a cold, we ate pizza, watched a movie, had some fruit in the market…oh, and I found a new skirt at a thrift store!
We left Santa Cruz after just one night for Samaipata, three hours away. Samaipata is a tiny little town, but it has beautiful surroundings (Incan ruins, waterfalls, rainforest, etc.). We decided to play it cheap and ended up camping at a place called “El Jardin” (the garden) which turned out to be fantastically nice. Beautiful, serene, lots of fun people, really coolly designed buildings (adobe and recycled colored glass). The unfortunate thing was that after one nice day it decided to rain for two, making it impossible to do anything but huddle under the kitchen porch with new friends.
We made an attempt to see some Che Guevera sights in the nearby town of Vallegrande, but it mostly ended up being too expensive and time consuming, not to mention obsessive. Plus, it didn’t help that ALL the information in the guidebooks is pretty much, well, shit. As in not true. Completely inaccurate. We did manage to see where he used to be buried and hear some amazing stories from people in the town, but that’s about it. (For those that don’t know, Che was assassinated outside Vallegrande in 1967; that’s why there’s a bunch of “Che stuff” around there, usually referred to as “the Che route” or “the last steps of Che.”) That night we survived the craziest thunder and lightening storm of my life – the ground was literally shaking, and I actually started to think maybe the world was ending outside. But, out cheap tent held up with one one wet spot, due to my laziness when setting up the rain-fly (it really didn’t seem like it would rain at the time!). After that, we were basically trapped in Samaipata for a few days due to the rain, waiting for it to clear up so we could go out and see some of the sights, but instead we spent our time cooking, getting arepas (corn pancake things) at the market, making amazing hot chocolate, and hanging out trying not to be bored to death. After three nights we decided it was finally time to move on…back to Santa Cruz.
And here we are again, this time staying in an extremely cheap place. We did, however, find a very nice coffee shop place (Alexander Coffee, near the main square) that has fast wifi, so all is well. We’re trying to take care of a few online chores (bills, cat supplies, bank accounts) and organize our next steps. Hopefully tomorrow we’re going to try to volunteer at the Ambue Ari animal refuge, about 6 hours northeast of Santa Cruz. In order to volunteer, we need to gather a lot of money, as there’s no ATM in town, procure malaria medication as even Santa Cruz is in the dreaded “red zone” of malaria on the maps, not to mention basically take care of anything important involving the internet, as the refuge has, get this, no electricity. However, since we’re going to make a one month commitment (hopefully) we will get to work with felines…as in…jaguars, pumas, etc. If that turns out to be true, it will be all worth it. If not, we’ll become very fit doing construction and maintenance at the park I’m sure. Once we’re there, there is a town nearby that has an internet cafe, so we should be able to update once a week or so. If you want to check out information about this place, check it out HERE (http://www.intiwarayassi.org/articles/volunteer_animal_refuge/volunteer_at_ambue.html)!
Until next time, we love you all!
Sharon and Tyler