Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is the largest city in Bolivia and the country's most important agro-industrial centre. It is a hot and noisy place, and its people have an open, laid-back, tropical temperament. They call themselves cambasand have maintained a long-standing but generally amicable rivalry with their highland or collacounterparts. In 2007-2008, however, this rivalry verged on animosity as Santa Cruz spearheaded the drive by several lowland departments for greater autonomy from the government in La Paz.

For most travellers, Santa Cruz is a jumping-off point; for the Jesuit missions; several excellent national parks; the train ride east to the Pantanal and Brazil or the more arduous southeastern road journey to the Chaco and Paraguay.

The centre of Santa Cruz retains some of its colonial air, and is the heartbeat of the city. Its narrow, congested streets are lined with low, red-tiled roofs with overhanging eaves, giving pedestrians much-needed protection from the fierce sun or pouring rain. The city can get very hot and sticky, particularly around midday when locals go home for lunch and their siesta. This is a good time to do likewise, frequent one of the many air-conditioned ice-cream parlours or sit in the shaded plaza and watch the world go by.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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