August 2, 2009
Our cab driver caught us off-guard and probably made double his typical fare, but we made it to our hostel and checked in without a problem. We had brunch at a giant, bright mega-restaurant/ice-cream store (Café Bonaparte?) as we couldn’t find anything that was listed in our guidebook. It was pricey, but the food was decent and the portions were huge.
Being a Sunday, there wasn’t a whole lot open, but Santa Cruz has an interesting zoo with an amazing toucan, sloths hanging about in the open (we got some adorable photos) and an escaped monkey who was trying desperately to get back to the safety of his cage. It was a great, relaxing way to bring the Bolivia portion of our trip to a close.
Later in the afternoon we returned to the city center and checked out Manzana Uno (english), a cultural center with a great sculpture exhibit and an artisan’s market. The entire city is shockingly “western” with almost no one in traditional dress, and a very moneyed appearance, the SUVs outnumbering sedans by quite a bit.
We dined at La Bella Napoli, an expensive recommendation by our guidebook’s shoestring standards, but it was our last night in Bolivia. We split a pricier bottle of Bolivian wine, as well (Campos de Solana Cabernet Sauvignon), which was drinkable but definitely not worth of its $12 price tag. We genuinely wanted to find the beauty in Bolivian wine. My stomach has been jacked, so after dinner we shimmied up the fancy rooftop bar on the plaza for a bottle of water, before calling it a night.