Yesterday, Irwin (Menchi’s husband) along with the brother of Irwin’s son-in-law and myself went to go explore Las Lomas de Arenas. This is a regional park about 5 miles south of Santa Cruz.
The drive to the park itself was an eye-opening experience for me. I really had a chance to see a different side of Bolivia just a few miles from some very nice neighborhoods. Few roads were paved, houses were built partly with brick, and then a variety of other materials. Another very noticible part about the area was the intense amount of trash lining the streets. There is garbage along the main roads as well, but here it was even more pronounced. Every time I see a sign that says “don’t litter” there are just mounds of plastic by the sign.
It breaks my heart to see the poverty, as well as this much trash in the streets. The largest contributor to that pile of trash is plastic bags. Because of all the wind that Santa Cruz gets, plastic bags ride with the wind across town, untill the wind recides, or they get stuck on a street sign, or a fence.
This park is known for its towering sand dunes, like we have in parts of the U.S.
I’ve been to dunes in Oregon, Michigan, and North Carolina before. But I’ve never seen dunes like this. It just doesn’t make any sense. Santa Cruz is not close to a large body of water. Yet, a few miles from the city, and a few miles from the jungle are these massive sand dunes. The dunes are constantly moving due to all the wind in the area.
The most recent adventure was going to Los espejitos cascadas, a series of waterfalls and swimming holes about 1.5 hour drive west of town, into the jungle. Menchi, Irwin, myself, along with a group of family friends created a caravan of 4wd cars into the jungle. The drive was very rough, as once we started towards the jungle, it was all rocky, dirt roads.
One of the cars did not fare too well after the river crossing..the culprit was a plastic lining underneath the car. After attending to that situation, we headed further into the jungle. Finally, to the (crowded) parking lot for the waterfalls.
The waterfalls were pretty however, the geologic formations were incredible. But with this many people, it was very hard to enjoy the serenity of the nature. The friends I was with told me it was much less crowded and much cleanier when they had last been back, 20 years ago or so. Still, an experience to see! How the locals recreate on the weekends!
One thing that I was very happy about, however, was getting to eat fresh empanadas, right off the oven! This break back at the parking lot sure got everyone back into a good mood.
After the slight disappointment of the crowded waterfalls, we decide to drive a little further into the jungle, just to look around. Here there were very basic homes, with horses, cows, and dogs just wandering along the single lane dirt road.
Despite the crowd at the waterfalls today, it still has been a successful couple of days. It’s been amazing to see so much of the country in so many different ways.
And now for more dogs of Bolivia…