You can do a lot in 10 days Part 1: You only need one night in Santa Cruz (MYTH)

Before I left Sucre on February 4th, I had many people tell me that Santa Cruz was not that interesting and not a good place for a single female, and that I would probably be safest and happiest not exploring the city and staying in my hotel room. Naturally fate had to intervene.
I arrived at my departure gate in Sucre breathless from my frenzied departure, losing my Bolivianos (currency) and not being able to read directions in my state of mind. I sat faci  ng the window looking out onto the tarmac to breathe a moment. With dozens of open seats in the sala (waiting room), a Bolivian girl pointed to the seat directly to my right and asked if she could sit there…. Well. I mean there are lots of other more spacious places to sit, but sure, certainly. Please sit. She struck up a conversation, asked if I was traveling alone, had I been to Santa Cruz, how long was I in Sucre, and in general was very kind. I learned that she was from Santa Cruz, making her a Cruzeña, and had been in Sucre overnight for work. When the time came, we walked out to the plane together, and she made sure I knew where I was sitting. The plane wasn’t very full, so we sat together after a time and continued to chat. At one point, she asked where I was staying and would I like to share a cab into town…. Okay. Here I had been bracing myself for this question and I thought, La Casa Del Camba“Alright. Going to a city known to be dangerous, is it really a good idea to share a cab with this girl who could turn out to be the next Amanda Knox? Probably not, but. Also she has been very helpful thus far so… Let’s give it a shot. She helped me carry my bags out, confirmed with our taxi driver that he knew where my hostel was, and paid half the cab fare even though we dropped her off before my hostel. Whew. Dodged a bullet!
We exchanged WhatsApp numbers and later I received an invitation to meet her for dinner at a restaurant nearby my hostel, which my dueña endorsed as good food and tipico of this region of Bolivia, La Casa del Camba. I arrived late to the restaurant, a large, airy patio to find pleasant live music with a tropical flare – also tipico of Santa Cruz thanks to its proximity to the Amazon. Angelica met me outside and led me to a table with… Her Uncle and his family – they were out to celebrate his birthday. My embarrassment increased along with my gratitude when they paid for my meal and bought me a photo from the restaurant. At that point I learned that the saying of Santa Cruz is “La ley Cruzeña es la hospitalidad,” or, Hospitality is the law of the Cruzeñas.
We spent the rest of the night puttering around the city, walking through the plaza to see the magnificent cathedral, strolling down favorite streets and important neighborhoods… Very romantic! We later met up with two of her friends who drove us to other parts of town, before grabbing beer and a pack of cinnamon cigarettes and going to her apartment to relax and swap stories.
Still waiting to be robbed or sold into slavery, I cabbed back to my hostal, Los Aventureros, examined my mosquito bites, and crawled into bed for a very fitful sleep.
 Family timeGiven that my trip is still young, maybe I will be pleasantly surprised, but I don’t know how often in my life I will be taken in by a local before I step off my plane. And I am so grateful! I will absolutely return to Santa Cruz to see more sights, maybe make it for Carnaval, and visit Angelica again. The city itself is known to be dangerous, but it’s not all bad, because apparently there are also some really wonderful people. Don’t be stupid, and you should be fine. True that it is large and sprawled like an American suburb, but the people are kind and curious and welcoming, the churches and cathedrals worth seeing, and apparently the surrounding Amazon basin is peppered with activities and old Jesuit establishments.
Also – would like to endorse Los Aventureros. For $10/night you get a rustic but comfortable private tent with a bed and electricity, a fresh breakfast (though not hot, still totally sufficient), and a welcoming dueña with all the know-hows and taxi connections you need to get started in Santa Cruz. It’s certainly not fancy, but for $10 I think it’s a steal. Just take your anti-malarials and earplugs. They also have rooms inside the house available for a bit more.

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