2008 Roadtrip Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia (Our first 3 nights)

We first stopped to look at Toborochi Apart Hotel Suites (Calle Jaimes Freira No 7 esquina Av. San Martin Zona Barrio Equipetrol, Santa Cruz de Sierra, tel: (591-3)332-1919, e-maiL toborochi.suites@entelnet.bo, web: www.toborochisuites.com). Daniela in marketing showed us around. She was very friendly, spoke good English and she enthusiastically negotiated the price of the apartment saying she wanted us to stay at Toborochi. She explained truthfully that the gym was not open (for various reasons). We went to look at Hotel Casino Real and thought it was over-priced for a suite. We didn't even look at the Paulista because the outside looked old. We decided to give up on the gym and go back to the Toborochi.

We chose the 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment at the Toborochi and Daniela said her best price was Bs 435/US$63. The space of apartment #1610 was ample, the living room/dining room/kitchen area was good-sized, the bedroom and bathroom big enough, and the storage was good. We had the furniture re-arranged in the living room so that we could watch TV from the sofa. And we had one additional little table brought so that both of us would have small tables and chairs for our computers. Dimitri set up the Archos 605 so that we could record TV shows. This is the fifth country (with different standards for TV) in which the Archos works!
When Daniela was showing us around, she said that there were 2 cables in the apartment for Internet (it turned out there was only one). She showed us the steam bath, sauna and the outdoor Jacuzzi. She said we could have the Jacuzzi filled at 40 C degrees. Later in the day when we asked the technician to fill the Jacuzzi and heat the water to 40 C degrees, he said that there was no hot water available to the Jacuzzi and the only hot water is in the apartments. Indeed, in the showers near the Jacuzzi, there was only cold water. We decided not to use the sauna and steam because the Jacuzzi wasn't viable.

We used the one cable for Internet that was in the apartment. Back in La Rioja, Argentina in January, 2007, we had bought a 8-Port 10/100Mbps NWay Switch (for 2 cable Internet connections) for AP$85/US $27 and a very long cable for AP$5/US $1.63 . We have been carrying them around since then but mostly have had wi-fi in our apartments and hotel rooms. In this apartment, however, Dimitri used our NWay Switch and our very long cable so that both computers were connected to the Internet. Dimitri said: "What Daniela lacks in veracity, she makes up for in enthusiasm."

Before coming to Bolivia, Dimitri sent e-mail messages to the Bolivian couples that we had met in January, 2007 at Patios de Cafayate, Argentina. He asked which paved road they had taken from Argentina to Santa Cruz. They never answered the e-mail and we thought that their e-mail address must have changed. Had they responded we would have known that we must cross the border at Aguas Blancas, Argentina not La Quiaca. When we got our sim card for our cell phone in Santa Cruz, I called Boris & Natalia Navallo's cell number and it worked. I left a message Sunday night. The other couples' cell number didn't work.

On Monday, I looked in the phone book and called the first number there under the name of Boris Navallo (de something or another). The maid at that number gave me the office number. I got Boris on the phone. He said that he and Romel Rosas got the e-mails but forgot to respond. He said he got the cell phone message but didn't respond. He called on Tuesday morning to invite us to their house for pizza. I declined with thanks and told him about the horrendous roads we took from La Quiaca to Tarija and Tarija to Villa Montes (because he hadn't responded to our e-mail and hadn't told us about the paved road from Aguas Blancas, Argentina). He said "Oh well, the two of you like adventure". I should have said, "actually, no we don't" but I didn't. I just laughed and said that I guessed so.

During the day, on Tuesday, we found a kiosk with a complete map book of Bolivia for Bs40/US$5. Had we found that map book in Villazon (the border town) we might have turned around and have driven to Aguas Blancas. It showed the paved roads quite clearly. We had looked in Villazon and then in Tarija at about 10 shops for such a map book and found only one useless and outdated map of the country. Well, no one can say we didn't try to avoid the awful roads in Bolivia.

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