Bolivia, te extraño

by Alison Donald
(Santa Cruz, Bolivia)



As I write this I am 10,000 Kms. and 5 time zones from Bolivia. Reading that feels worse than going over it in my head.

When I allow myself to think about it, I miss lots of things about Bolivia. Not just my new Bolivian family, and the expat circle who take every newcomer under their wing.

What has made it easiest to transition a move to the other side of the world is almost certainly that Santa Cruz is progressive and the mundane aspects of life might not be that different from “back home” (huge florescent-lit supermarkets, air-conditioned gyms, cafes to meet friends etc).

But I am also missing the more authentic aspects of life, like the refreshing citrus juices sold by cholitas from their carts in the street, and the sight of the banana bike stall, which is exactly how it sounds.

You don’t have to buy eggs in boxes of 6 or 12, you can buy however many or few you need, and carry them home in a plastic bag.

The bus drivers won’t drive off without you if they can see that you are running towards the informal stop (quite probably because they are self-employed and need the fare rather than any altruistic motive, but anyway).

There is something going on in the main plaza every Monday, and it seems like there is a national holiday (and the accompanying celebrations) about every 3 weeks.

The lack of a postal delivery service means no junk mail for us, and no-one phones up to try to sell anything.

The lush greenery is a constant reminder that Bolivian jungle is not very far away, and that squawk that sounded like a parrot almost certainly is a wild parrot in a tree. Telephone booths are not boring grey plastic cubicles but in the shapes of tropical birds and animals.

I am confused that my mum’s hibiscus plant refuses to flower, then I remember that she, and it, live in the UK and saucer-sized flowers are not the norm.

A pink sunset gives way to a darkness filled with a choir of insects with bodies, legs and wings larger than you would care to imagine.

I miss speaking Spanish.

I want to go to the market and step around the pig blood on the floor as the cleaner hasn’t come round yet.

Heck, I’m even missing the micro buses, which I can’t stand up straight in.

Bolivia, te extraño

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Mar 31, 2012
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by: Anonymous

Memories is not really the adequate term as i am still living in the city and i do think with fondness of the people here that i like, however, if by coincidence or not, those people are all very different from the average cruceno, most come from other parts of the country or straight from other countries. And i do have very fond memories of my trips to other Bolivian cities, including Sucre, Cochabamba, La Paz, Uyuni and Tarija, among many others. I think by now i know the country quite a little and i think if i had the choice between living in any of those cities or here, i would raise the stakes by a lot in order to avoid my current residence. Other cities here in this country arent perfect either but at least there i havent found this terrible arrogance and total lack of respect for other people that i find here in the capital of the department of Santa Cruz. I am sorry for the harsh words and i really feel happy for anyone that did not fall into resignation with the city, i truly do. I dont mean to offend or demean anybody that enjoyed their stay here, i just dont share this feeling and i recommend anybody that can to avoid the city.

Mar 26, 2012
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True, people miss what they love.
by: Anonymous

I agree. humans have a selective memory. Some of you have chosen to point out, focus on, and/or selectively remember the negative aspects of a place, while others have chosen to selectively remember the positive. People normally do remember with fondness the people and places they love.

If your memories are not fond, you've not been able to find someone or something to love about it. Which says more about you than about the persons you are responding to.

Mar 25, 2012
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I beg to differ
by: Anonymous

You must have been living in a different Santa Cruz than the one i am living in right now. This one here is filled with people that have no respect for each other and markets that stink already weeks before their inauguration. Human kind really has a selective memory i guess...

Jan 05, 2012
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Santa Cruz
by: Valerie

I am going through the same exact thing! i fell in love with bolivia, and i had to move back to the US and i am heartbroken. The first couple of months i was in the US i was sick to my stomach i missed it so much. there isnt an hour that goes by that i dont miss Santa Cruz. ( i stayed in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in a town called Tambo). I left my heart in bolivia. I can see you did too. What part of santa cruz did you go to?
and by the way, i love the pictures! i have a picture of one of them that is in the shape of an armadillo. :) those telephones are so great.

Nov 02, 2011
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La Paz has its own
by: Maria Elena

Suddenly I am so homesick! I've never been in Santa Cruz but I do miss La Paz and I absolutly plan to visit Santa Cruz!

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