The First Day
On Saturday I arrive in Santa Cruz. The directions that I had been given to determine when to ask the bus driver to stop were very good. However I was not dropped off until almost 2 kms further down the road. During the night a bad cough had become worse, taking my voice away from me. So when I went and asked the driver to let me off, it took that long for him to understand me.
The Santa Cruz YWAM Base
Shortly after I had arrived I started helping out in the computer department. There were some small problems that I was able to solve reasonably quickly for them. After gaining some of their confidence, we then began the process via a very slow modem connection of setting up a new website for Kings Kids and possibly for all of Bolivia.
I was not in the office for long, and quickly disappeared into town on the mini-buses to celebrate some birthdays over lunch. We enjoyed some typical Bolivian foods of highly flavoured chicken and rice, hot and spicy chicken, and other variants of spicy and hot foods.
Bolivian foods for lunch.
Celebrating birthdays over lunch.
The evening was another birthday and we wandered down a street filled with parties to try and find the one we were invited to. It took several attempts as we stopped at different houses and wondered if this was the party we had been asked to attend. Our party was much further down the road and the sounds did not carry out to the street because of the large house in which it was held.
Here we ate lots of meat and laughed and danced into the night. I demonstrated some dances taught to me by my good friend Chris which caught a lot of attention at the party. One was The Microwave Dance, and the other The Fish Dance. After that I started making up my own, with The Salad Tossing Dance, and The Car Driver Dance. They were all tongue-in-cheek activities designed to bring a bit of laughter into the night, and they worked well.
Policeman booking a driver.
The Next Day
The whole week was shaping up to be full of events and activities that would take me around the place to see many things, but suddenly I hit the wall. On Sunday morning I tried to wake up but could not. My body was shaking with cold yet pouring out sweat. I had a fever.
For most of that day I slept. There was no strength in my body to get up, even though I tried once or twice. Completely exhausted, I lay on my bed and slept or read. The entire day. There was nothing else I could do.
On the Monday, waking at 7am I thought all was fine, but suddenly heard a knock on the door at 9.15am and discovered that I had fallen asleep again. In the morning I walked, slowly, down to the doctors for a blood check. I had been bitten by an unknown bug back in Entre Rios and it had some of the symptoms of the Vinchuka bug that brings Chagis Disease and I wanted to be sure of what it was.
The rest of the day was work, hunched over the computer, using as little energy as possible. Everyone went out to a party, leaving me behind. My exhaustion was too much and an early night was the only sensible thing to do.
Next Day – In Search of Japanese
Thinking that I would feel better, I headed off to some distant Japanese colony nearby Santa Cruz. We took a taxi, with three big people in the back and two people crammed into the front seat for the two hour journey.
Lines of cars blocked by the protesters.
Only a short distance up the road we encounter a blockade across the road. Our taxi driver continues up the road on the wrong side, weaving between the other vehicles that have done the same until we get to the source. It is the police drugcheck point where every vehicle gets inspected, and just metres further on is a group of angry people preventing the vehicles from moving anywhere.
Riding in a converted taxi.
Our driver charges us half price and we walk through the blockade, and past dozens and dozens of buses and trucks that have been stuck for hours. Suddenly there is movement. The police have removed the blockade and vehicles are starting to move onward again.
The town’s main street, just like any other Bolivian town.
We were looking for a taxi to take us the rest of the distance but found nothing. Instead we were stuck between the edge of the road and big moving vehicles, with only centimetres between us both.
A small circus was in town when we arrived.
Eventually our taxi finds us again, having passed through the blockade, and we climb aboard once again. This time there are four of us in the back seat for the remaining hour of journey.
A mother and daughter wash their clothes in the field.
When we finally get there, the colony is nothing more than a Bolivian town with some Japanese farms and we return quite disappointed. Later on I hear that we had visited the wrong place and that there really is a Japanese styled township somewhere nearby.
The entry and exit to the township. This sign has Japanese on the welcome side, which I did not take a photo of. Doh.
Last day – Making Tracks
Wednesday was National Day of the Child, and my last day in Santa Cruz. In the morning I joined the girls in shopping for presents for the children at the markets. These markets have such a dangerous reputation that none of us take anything more than we really need for this trip.
Small markets in a township nearby to Santa Cruz.
Witches brews, burnt offerings and dried foetuses of animals were all available for sale alongside of dozens of shops selling childrens toys. Fresh fish and chicken, chocolates, clothes, tools, and virtually anything that you could possibly need was available here.
We returned to the YWAM base to celebrate this day with a party and dances for the children which they all delighted in. I stopped first at the doctors to discover that my test for Chagis disease was negative, and for some advice about my continuing flu. I returned to the base with two medications and an injection, which I duly took (ouch).
The afternoon was spent finalising the work I had been doing on the Kings Kids website and helping David a little more in some of the things he was doing.
My friends from Santa Cruz. (L to R: Sonia, Nadia, David, Lidia)
Before long the day had run out and I was walking out of the gate, saying goodbye to all of the good friends that I had made during my stay including David, Lydia, Nadia, and Sonia. Thanks guys for the amazing stay that you made my time in Santa Cruz.
Next stop. The bus station.
A typical old car for this area of Bolivia.
A shoe repairer working on the footpath.
I used to have one of these motorbikes (80cc) back in 1980 and it was considered old then.
A broken horse cart with basic repairs so it can continue to function.
Two girls sit outside their home, watching the traffic.