The Oriente, City of Santa Cruz
Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
117Trip End Ongoing
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The heat and tropical air felt good and gave the place a type of holiday feel, even though the traffic was crazy and the roads hugely congested and polluted. Found a great value hotel which had an employee so laid-back and friendly we probably could have left without paying and he wouldnīt have minded or noticed.
Had our first encounter with Santa Cruzians at a local restaurant. Two girls, couldnīt have been more than 15 and 17, dressed to the hilt and covered in make-up
The next day, we looked around the city and found it full of shops with designer labels, overfed locals driving huge new 4-wheel drives and McDonalds-style eating places. There were obvious signs of poverty too - but we felt that people there were really aspiring to a Western lifestyle - cars, clothes and hamburgers!
The food was completely different here too - more centered around coconut, plantain and tropical fruits. We found the eating very good and very cheap. At a Brazilian all-you-can-eat place a young guy even put Ed to shame with the food he could put away. At one stage, he was eating dessert and we thought he was finished but he couldnīt resist a few more chicken hearts off the busy grill. Turned out he was a student - we asked him if it was bread and water for the rest of the week
Scariest meal of the trip so far was a sopa de mani (peanut soup) - weīd had plenty of these in our trip so were confident we knew what we were ordering. It was one of those soups which was thick and murky and didnīt give up itīs secrets easily. Tasted good, until I had a strangely-textured thing dissolve in my mouth - oh, thatīd be some chicken livers then. The next big surprise was Ed picking a drumstick out of his soup to find there was still a foot attached! Nothing wasted...
Next stop - Brazil, after an overnight train trip. A nice change after our constant bus trips...