Santa Cruz, Bolivia bleg

by on August 10, 2014 at 3:37 pm in Food and Drink, Travel | Permalink

I’ll be there soon enough.  Please tell me what to do, what to eat, and how to understand what I am doing.  I thank you all in advance.

affenkopf August 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Try coca leaves.

Dylan August 10, 2014 at 7:05 pm

This should enhance focus on what he’s doing, and perhaps understanding.

Nathan W August 12, 2014 at 12:12 pm

If you’re an agricultural labourer at 3000m, apparently it improves productivity, and this is why the Spanish eventually gave up on trying to force them to abandon their traditional preferences.

This is far different from abuse of the refined substance, which is also a very real public health issue in many countries in the region.

Wil Coffee August 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Hotel Camino Real was great, but a bit out of the way. Jardin de Asia was fantastic food and a beautiful restaurant. Chalet La Swiss is worth it just to experience the extreme cross-marketing.
Must must must go to the Biocentro!!

Ben August 10, 2014 at 5:19 pm

The best Bolivian contemporary artist is Claudia Joskowicz. The best gallery in Santa Cruz is KIOSKO Galeria. I would include links but that triggers the spam filter, I think…

John Smith August 10, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Both llama or armadillo are on the menu, so dig in.

Mark Thorson August 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm
S August 10, 2014 at 6:10 pm

1) Be in some place and eat the food
2) Eat the food
3) You will be in some place and eating food.

did that help?

Adam August 10, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Things to do:
-Take an early evening stroll in Plaza 24 de Septiembre.
-Biocentro Güembe is very impressive if you are into that sort of thing (butterfly farm, orchids, a whole series of pools where you can swim).
-The zoo was also pretty good too as I recall.

Food:
-Many of the locals recommended Casa Típica de Camba, but it seemed like a bit of a tourist trap to me.
-I can’t recall any specific restaurant recommendations, but I would highly recommend the smoothies and lemonades wherever you go.

Lodging:
+1 to the Hotel Camino Real recommendation above. When I visited the rates were significantly cheaper booking through a local travel agent than trying any of the major English speaking hotel reservation systems. I think was paid around $120 instead of $200 or more. The hotel itself was quite nice, although my expectations were probably colored by the fact that I was living in a less developed part of South America at the time.

ChacoKevy August 11, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Yeah, Casa de Camba definitely has a tourist vibe, but it’s still very much a place families go to celebrate special events, too. I’d say it’s worth a stop for normal people, but probably doesn’t fall into Tyler’s criteria. Casa de Camba is the place where Peace Corps would take our local counterparts whenever we had conferences in the city.
You’ll be pressured into the beef in Santa Cruz, but I don’t think it’s great. There are better bife chorizos down in Yacuiba due to the Argentina proximity.
I’d suggest two dishes: pollo al ajillo and surubi(accent the “i”, no international characters in the comments?). The latter in particular. It’s a river catfish, but the filets are typically enormous and the bones aren’t terribly difficult to navigate. Get it with either lemon or lime.
Santa Cruz still has carb-heavy sides, but they more frequently will offer yucca instead of potato or chuno. A nice change of pace from the highlands.
I’ll stop this comment now, as I’ve definitely wandered from recommending to reminiscing.

Stephen Smith August 10, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Salteñas, salteñas, salteñas!

Adam August 10, 2014 at 10:05 pm

+1

Phil August 10, 2014 at 7:21 pm

There are some great donkey show venues downtown that also serve good donkey meat dishes.

stalin August 11, 2014 at 10:08 am

Could you amplify on the term “donkey show”? Is it what I think it is?

casey August 10, 2014 at 9:14 pm

I don’t remember the details, but I stayed for one night in a cheap nature hotel, maybe 10 miles out of town and did an amazing jungle hike

City

ChacoKevy August 11, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Hmmm… The mileage makes me uncertain, but I would think you’re talking about the town of Buena Vista which serves as a launch point for tours in Amboro National Park.

Darren Johnson August 11, 2014 at 2:23 am

Coca leaves are a bad idea.

Marcos Gallacher August 11, 2014 at 8:34 am

Strongly suggest a visit to Moxos & other places with Jesuit history. Not in the city of Santa Cruz but in surrounding province. If possible attend children choir singing.

Had dinner in the city of Santa Cruz in a place called “la cueva del Cambá” (or “La casa del Cambá) very good meats & other local dishes. Also have fish (large rivers). Name of place may be somewhat different, but ended in “del Camba”.

“Camba” is the name given to people living in this area, very different from inhabitants of highlands (the “Altiplano”). Santa Cruz is very different to the altiplano region both in geography as well as population.

M Galllacher
Professor of Economics
University of Cema
Argentina

cliff arroyo August 11, 2014 at 8:43 am

“Santa Cruz is very different to the altiplano region both in geography as well as population. – See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/08/santa-cruz-bolivia-bleg.html#comments

Gabirela Oviedo agrees

“”Unfortunately, people who don’t know Bolivia very much think that we are all just Indian people,” she said, adding that the image typified La Paz, which has “poor people and very short people and Indian people. . . . I’m from the other side of the country. We are tall and we are white people and we know English.”

http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/bolivia/split.htm

Be sure to find out what all the cool tall white english speaking people are eating…

Larry Siegel August 12, 2014 at 1:54 am

Meet Gabriela Oviedo

She was an 18 year old beauty contest winner who was asked what she could tell people about her country that they didn’t already know. Her answer (quoted above), which I thought was pretty good for a high school kid, was widely criticized as “racist.” Can’t win, can ya?

cliff arroyo August 13, 2014 at 2:24 am

The problem was that she didn’t seem to understand anything of the racial dynamics in her own country. She could have said “People think we’re just mountains and Indians and while that’s a beautiful part of my country there’s a lot more as well. Where I’m from it’s not mountains and there’s a lot of racial diversity and it’s very modern.” and no one would have gotten upset. Instead she used a bunch of crude stereotypes that set people (especially non-whites in the Andes) off.

It was a little as if a woman in Miss America (representing New York, let’s say) said: “People think New York is all Jews and Puerto Ricans and it’s dirty and crime. But I’m from the other part of the state. We’re white and we’re clean.”

Maciste August 11, 2014 at 2:46 pm

When in Santa Cruz, one must eat their typical dishes which are different from the ones found in the Andean cities. So try places like La Casa del Camba. Try majao de charque, cunhapes de queso, humintas, etc. Good stuff!

Rodrigo August 11, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Try piranha

Kyle N August 11, 2014 at 5:51 pm

I’ve lived here going on three years, and I love salteñas–baked breakfast pastries available in the morning. Start with chicken (de pollo), and eat from one end to the other, taking care with the juicy interior. Chunño is boiled dehydrated potatoes–exotic and weird, but most certainly an acquired taste.

Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, and a standard almuerzo comes in three courses: soup (sopa), segundos (a strong plate), and a small dessert. The best mass-produced lager in the country is usually considered to be Huari, although I’m partial to the Bock.

For typical food:
Casa de la Camba: as said before (their restaurant on the 2nd ring near Avenida Alemana is your best bet). Alligator is cola de largata, although I’d recommend Majadito (jerky stew with a plantain and fried egg) or keperi (roast beef). Chancho al horno is baked pork and very tasty.
Don Miguel: a typical grill place, order a parilla and it arrives to your table still sizzling over hot coals. On the southeast side of the first ring. Get a good wine while you’re at it.
Cabañas del Pirari: a strip of typical food places along the river if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, past the fourth ring along Avenida Pirai (past the Expocruz conference center if that’s where you’re presenting). You can go for the straightforward, or exotic (i.e. the threatened tatú/armadillo or the jungle rat whose name currently escapes me).
Mercado Los Pozos: best street food in town cam be found in their cafeterias.

Classy foreign food (all along the 3rd ring in the Barrio Equipetrol area):
La Chalet Suisse: Swiss food, but lots of Bolivian fusion options, too. Llama cuts available.
Montreal Steakhouse: great beef, great cocktails.
Jardin de Asia: high-end Japanese food.

More Japanese options:
Yorimichi: on the more expensive side (for here) of Japanese food, along Avenida Busch.
Restaurant Ken: very affordable, very delicious, and a huge collection of anime on the first ring by the Avion Pirata.

Avoid the Tanta restaurant, it’s over-priced. If you want some Peruvian-influenced food, check out the strong plates at Republica Pub on Bolivar coming to the central Plaza or at Ventura Mall, and order a Corsa Lager for the best beer currently available in the lowlands. If you’re feeling something super obscure, check out Pension Lucy on Calle Seis de Agosto near Mercado Los Pozos for a Korean-owned restaurant that serves greasy Mexican tacos to Colony Mennonites. Guaranteed to befuddle. Or shoot us an email, we’ll take you out.

Caitlin August 11, 2014 at 7:29 pm

Eat cuñapes and pan de arroz, both of which are savory baked goods typical of Bolivia’s lowlands. If they have empanadas de charque, absolutely eat those. They’re fried turnovers filled with salted, dried beef. (The work “jerky” comes from “charque,” so imagine a fried turnover filled with stewed jerky.)

Michael August 12, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Santa Cruz has the state mental hospital I was told. Would be interested in impressions, info.

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