The town square is lovely, even though they removed the sloth for fear he would electrocute himself. The population is friendly, the weather is perfect, and there are few sights. Unlike in much of South America, danger is not a concern. The small children who hang out in the central square seem to think that a full embrace of a pigeon is a good idea.
The food is excellent and yet you never hear about it. Try El Aljibe for local specialties (peanut soup, or duck and corn risotto, with egg on top), and Jardin de Asia for Amazonian Andean Peruvian Japanese Bolivian fusion. It is hard to find the Cochabamba version of Bolivian food that has made it over to the U.S. The steak here is decent but not as good as Argentina or Brazil.
The taxi equilibrium is that you do not ask in advance what the fare is, because that indicates you do not know. Be confident, and you will be surprised how little money they ask for.
If you had to pick one city to represent South America as a whole, Santa Cruz might be it. You can feel elements of Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and yes even Bolivia here, all rolled into one. The proportions of fair-skinned, mestizo, and indigenous people mirrors the Continent as a whole more than the Altiplano. The secession movement here seems to have failed. Amazonian indigenous peoples and Guarani are common here.
Arriving at the airport at 3:30 a.m. involves a nightmarish wait. There is not much air pollution. I didn’t meet a single person in the service sector who spoke English. People in Santa Cruz seemed fairly happy relative to their per capita income.
You can study the economic development of China by visiting Bolivia.