July 14th, 2008
Getting to Santa Cruz was an adventure on its own, so we felt relieved knowing that we had confirmed booking at a nice apartment/hotel, where the manager spoke English, and had even given us a discounted rate (although still expensive for Bolivia). Got to the apartment, and after filling out the necessary paperwork, we were led to the third floor (all stairs, with our luggage, no help), and into the apartment. We saw the place, looked again, and then looked at each other. Penny spoke out “umm…this does not look like the pictures on the internet. I really don’t like it here, especially for what were are paying for it”. Karthik agreed, and we decided to tell the guy who brought us up what we thought. He showed us the map of the city and pointed out where other hotels were. We decided to leave and find a place that would suit us. The Gran Hotel Canada ‘sounded’ good. We walked there…in the heat…upset…and Karthik went to see the room before we committed to it. The place was an embarrassment to Canada! They really should change the name. We left. Completely exhausted, we decided to hail a cab, and asked him to take us to any good hotel. We started at the Arenal, a little more expensive than the apartment, but it was 4.5 star hotel. Thinking about our finances, we decided to check out another one. The next one was affordable, but filthy. We asked the cabbie to take us back to the Arenal because at this point, money didn’t matter but we couldn’t let our spirits sink to the point where we’d want to buy a ticket back home!
July 15th, 2008
So here we are, at a hotel that has a wicked, hot, powerful shower, clean room, large living space, and quite a few English channels on TV. We stayed in the room yesterday, ordering room service, and watching TV. It didn’t even bother us too much that the room service people were scamming us by giving us an exchange rate of 1:4 instead of 1:7 (as we knew we’d sort it out today).
So today, we headed off to the bank to get some money and after struggling through it for about an hour, we met Abraham, who’s been in Bolivia for the past 2 years working with the Peace Corps. He helped us out, gave us some tips, and then took off! We stumbled upon a cafe which was just like a Starbucks! Man oh man…so excited to see an actual “large” coffee cup, and muffins, we decided to grab some breakfast. The coffee was great! The muffins were yummy! Their menu also looked pretty neat, so we ordered enough for lunch and dinner and brought it back to the hotel – as today we stay in and work!
July 17th, 2008
Not feeling excited to go check out the city, especially since there is nothing to see here, we stayed in yesterday again, relaxed, worked, and watched T.V. During the day, we did attempt to hang out by the pool. Penny went into the pool, and came out within 10 minutes as the constant strong winds were not allowing the pool water to become warm enough to be comfortable in. Karthik continued to work under the canopy by the pool, while Penny tried to tan on the lounger. It just wasn’t comfortable. The strong winds were annoying. So we wrapped up outside and came back in to our comfortable room! Karthik went out to get some orange juice from the street vendor – freshly squeezed and only 30 cents a glass.
Today we skipped the hotel’s breakfast and decided to go to our cafe to get some “real” coffee. We thought we’d give the city square (the only highlight within the city) a try. We had our coffees, and some pastries for breakfast and went to sit in the square. Bored after minutes, it was time to head back to the hotel. Back to work, and watching TV, we were glad to find out that La Paz (our next destination) is relatively richer in culture and has quite a few things to do and see.
We realize that we won’t find exciting things to see/do throughout our travels, and that in a way we were glad to be catching our breaths by laying low. Actually the time here has been nice. Sightseeing can get tiring. But it will start again tomorrow, as our flight leaves at noon and we head to La Paz.