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Samaipata and the Santa Cruz Area

Walking Through Central Bolivia

Santa Cruz de la Sierra and the Samaipata area

By: Giovanni Guidetti

 

By simply looking out the window of my plane, I knew I was going to be breathing clean tropical air a big anticipation for someone used to living in smoggy Los Angeles. On previous flights to other destinations I had grown accustomed to seeing concrete jungles and skyscrapers as the signs of intelligent life before I landed. But now, everything I could see around me for kilometers was green; it didn’t even look like anyone lived amongst all the trees and mountains and valleys of vegetation.

 

I walked out of the airport terminal to find many friendly yet unfamiliar faces curiously looking in my direction; something that felt odd yet inviting to me at that time. It wasn’t the kind of look that made me feel probed or psychoanalyzed, or like I was the foreigner with a selfish agenda. It was more like the curious look an infant gives while looking back over the shoulder of a parent who is carrying them.

 

I soon learned that, unlike the culture I have grown accustomed to, people here really seem to want to know more about you as the individual and not so much the country you come from. There’s no fake “kiss ass” attitude that you would expect from tourist vendors. Although they may be timid at first, it’s easy get a local to chat for hours about life’s small and unimportant events in a laid back, unflattering manner. Work and education would pop up now and again, but would easily seem too petty and boring for the shorter conversations. If you tend to be more of the quiet and antisocial type, prepare to be torn out of your comfort zone here!

 

Driving to my lodging I noticed the lack of structure and law the streets possessed. At first I feared for my safety as my taxi driver weaved his patched-up 1984 Toyota wagon in and out of traffic, crossing paths with pedestrians and occasional livestock. What was interesting to learn was that Bolivia has fewer traffic accidents per capita than the United States. I understood the feasibility behind this statistic when I saw how aware and broad-visioned all the drivers where. An obstacle, even from the corner of the eye, was observed and calculated into the “dance” of this seemingly chaotic activity. Stop signs or traffic lights were not necessary with the awareness these drivers possessed. Gracious hand gestures quickly auto governed intersections where more than one car met. Unlike drivers I’ve seen in the States, these were definitely not in their own little egocentric world.

 

Time to eat, which reminds me of the lack of fast food restaurants I noticed on the roadway. The food in Santa Cruz is organic and natural to the palette. Something that was confirmed when I noticed my overall sense of intestinal wellbeing elevate and my skin soften and clear up of some blemishes. Portions were large enough to keep your metabolism running yet small enough to keep you from feeling like seasoned livestock. It’s this gastronomical balance that I’m sure contributes to the healthy lives many people enjoy there. Freshly squeezed milk and juices, homegrown corn, beef, fruits and vegetables are some of the many foods that are self-prepared and consumed on a regular basis.

 

As the days passed in blissful rest from the meticulous droning of cell phones, keyboard typing, city traffic, and television, I found myself less tense and more aware of my surrounding beauty. This inspired me to go on a journey deeper into the core or the spirit of my newly found source of consciousness and liveliness, of man’s natural environment—Samaipata.

 

Samaipata is a beautiful little town about 4 hours SW of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

It is surrounded by lush green forests and waterfalls that really make it a paradise to anyone who visits. I strongly recommend traveling through this small yet evolving town that is sure to turn into a tourist hot spot within the next 5-10 years as much construction and city planning is under way to help the town’s reputation grown to attract local cities to come and visit.

My own father has seen the value in this part of the country enough for him to develop his own resort called “El Pueblito Hotel and Resort”.

 

If you ever want a beautiful and quiet get away that will take you back a thousand years when life was about nature, simplicity and mankind’s relation to it all, take the time to change your life by visiting this remote region of Bolivia. I can’t tell you in words how you may interpret this area but all I can say is that the people, food, environment and experience are guaranteed to relax and remind you what life is really about.