Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Santa Cruz Trip

[August 18-21, 2015] Tuesday to Friday

We flew from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz today - first flight for me out of Cochabamba in nearly 40 years. When I served as the mission Historical Secretary from February to August of 1976, I'd travel from time to time with the Financial Secretary to audit branch records. Whenever we stopped in Cochabamba (sometimes as a stop between La Paz and our final destination of Sucre, Camiri, Potosí, etc.), we'd try to run downtown because Cochabamba was the only place that had something akin to hamburgers and ice cream. There was a restaurant (long gone now, I'm sure), called "California Donuts", where they made hamburgers that were quite tasty. Quite the rare treat.

We left at around 11:00 am, and arrived just before noon in Santa Cruz. What a change has taken place! When I was here before, the area between the second and third rings (Segundo y Tercero Anillos) was developing. Roads were typically dirt, but some were in the process of being paved - like this:

Street pavers in Santa Cruz
These are concrete blocks that are fitted together over a base of sand to pave the streets. Interestingly, these streets are still paved this way, and it seems to be a pretty good way to do it. It may help that it never freezes here, making any pavement longer lasting.

Anyway, development now extends out towards the ninth ring on the north side of the city (towards the newer Viru Viru airport), and everything within roughly the fifth ring is completely filled in, with even more development to the north and south:

Santa Cruz today. Development extends well outside the area of this Google Maps screen capture.
In the picture above, you can see where we stayed - the Torre Hotel Ejecutivo. The star towards the bottom is where Hna. Alvarez and her son live - just outside the fifth ring (Quinto Anillo).

When we got to the Hotel, we called Hna. Alvarez and made arrangements to go and visit her tomorrow. Then we went exploring.

Each day we were there, we walked as much as we could stand. It was a real memory jogger to see all the things that were the same, and the many more that were different. This first day, we walked over to the street where the missionaries lived, and tried to see if the house we lived in was still there. There was one that looked like a viable candidate, but when I checked my journal, and some old pictures, it was clear it wasn't the one. The place where we lived has been razed, and a multi-level building has been built in its place. But the streets around it have some places that still exist. Here's one - a picture I took in 1975 of a horse drawn cart on Av. Irala, compared to now:

1975 - Av. Irala with horse drawn cart.
2015 - same building with minor modifications and modern traffic.
We walked past the Rama 1 chapel, again, here's the before and after:

1975 - Santa Cruz Rama 1 Chapel under construction.
2015 - Santa Cruz Operations Center - mission offices,
Distribution Center, Seminaries and Institute offices.
It has been extended and remodeled, but the chapel inside looked nearly the same. Lots of memories here.

We continued on down to the Plaza Principal, and the main Catholic Cathedral on the Plaza. Both have been upgraded, and looked really nice:

1975 - picture of the main cathedral on the Central Plaza.
2015 - Cathedral now. Plaza has been extended right up to the Cathedral.
Here's a panoramic shot of the side of the Cathedral, and a nice little plaza that has been built since then:

Cathedral from the west side, and a new little plaza.
We also saw lots of more mature trees, like this one, right in the middle of the Second Anillo (Ave. Trompillo):
Beautiful tree spanning Av. Trompillo
On the way back to the hotel, we walked through what was probably the tourist trap area of town. Lots and lots of little shops selling just about anything you could want. There was one store, called Fair Play, that sold shoes, and was having a 70% off sale. There was a long line outside the front door. As we walked we saw quite a few more Fair Play shoe stores, all with long lines for the sale. Kind of interesting.

We bought an Alpaca shawl for Molly - very soft, and it will be nice for her to keep warm in the sometimes chilly chapels in Cochabamba. Although the weather is very nice here, the altitude (8500 feet) means that the atmosphere is thin. Anytime you are in the shade (at least in the winter), it can be a bit chilly.

Alpaca shawl purchased in Santa Cruz
For dinner, we just ate at the Hotel. Not being very daring, we just had their version of sweet and sour pork and chicken. It was pretty tasty.

Today, we walked some more, going a different route. We went to the Northwest on Av. Trompillo, and towards the center of town on Av. Grigotá. It was just like a smaller version of La Cancha in Cochabamba.
2015 traffic at the intersection of Av. El Trompillo and Av. Grigotá
Side street - vendors of furniture
Along the main avenue - need some chickens?
Enough mattresses for the Lyon family, no?
All very interesting. For lunch, we tried a pizza at the hotel - it had ham and cheese, but no tomato sauce, and they added corn as a topping. We'd probably recommend against eating that again. Not real tasty. They did have some very good juice drinks. There is one called maracuya, that is tart. We liked that one quite a bit.

Hna. Alvarez and Marco Antonio came and got us in the afternoon. You can read more of that visit in the post about them.

Hna. Alvarez had to go to  Cochabamba for some medical treatments today, so we had the day to ourselves. We walked some more - this time to the Parque Urbano, past the Cemetary, back past the central plaza, and had lunch at a nice little Italian restaurant. This time, the pizza was very much better - a Hawaiian pizza with lots of ham, lots of cheese, and a few pineapple pieces thrown on as an afterthought, it seemed. It tasted right, though, unlike the corn pizza from yesterday.

Here are some pictures of trees in Parque Urbano (Molly really wanted to pose with the second one - quite the interesting tree):

This is a picture of coconut palm trees just outside La Bella Napoli Italian restaurant:

And here's the restaurant: 

We flew back to Cochabamba today. Just to cap off the memory lane aspect of this post, I figured I'd add a picture of the missionaries working in the Santa Cruz/Montero area in January of 1975. I'm trying to hide behind President Allred:

The drive from the hotel to the Viru Viru airport way north of town was very nice. It goes through some undeveloped areas with much more of a tropical feel. We got back to Cochabamba (after an hour delay at the airport - who knows why) at about 4:00 in the afternoon. It felt good to be back to our home base.

No comments:

Post a Comment