Santa Cruz de la Sierra: Hot Town.

There’s nothing more demanding to your all your senses than riding into a large Latin American city. We’d been warned that Santa Cruz was hot, and that it was a huge city. We were advised that here we might find the most beautiful girls in Bolivia. And that this was the perfect launching pad for a tour of Las Missiones (the Missions – one of which inspired the movie starring Robert de Niro).

It was dark and we asked directions several times to the Plaza Principal — always a good first stop in any city. It was the usual mayhem. Some intersections had obscured or very dull traffic lights. Others wide open. Light or not entering these intersections is a game of chicken. Cars speed to the edge of the intersection. Then poke their noses. Some move further. Whoever has the balls goes first. Traffic lights don’t seem to matter. Soon we were in aggressive mode. I could feel beads of sweat dripping down my underarms. Cars honked, taxis jockeyed and Jeremiah and I kept our eyes open for a hotel.

When I spotted one I could barely here Jeremiah’s voice muted by his helmet and drowned by street sounds. “Yeah. Five star,” he shook his head. We found the principal plaza and Jeremiah complained that the heat might cause our engines to overheat. I suggested we just pull into the fancy hotel and if anything they could help us find cheaper accommodations.

But we ended up staying at Gran Hotel Santa Cruz. Sure it’s five-star, but for both of us the price was ridiculously low. They have WiFi, air-conditioning and a staff eager to help with whatever we needed. It’s a far cry from the dump we stayed in Vallegrande. And the owner of the hotel, marveling our bikes in the secure underground parking, told us not long back “Investment Biker” had stayed here. I’d read about this Wall Street adventure motorcyclists. He’s got a couple books under his belt and apparently has made quite a name traveling and working internationally — while riding his motorcycle.

So I took care of some business while the internet connection was fast and free. My contact, Ronald, who would help me get my motorcycle legal in Bolivia once again informed us that we’d need to wait until Monday to do anything with Aduana. So we’d spend a few nights here in Santa Cruz. And perhaps take a day trip to Las Missiones on Sunday the 5th of November.

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