So we finally arrived in Santa Cruz after the bus journey from hell - spent the next day feeling a weird kind of jet-lagged. In Bolivian terms, it´s quite a modern and up and coming city - the locals are apparently fiercely independent and fight for their autonomy from government in La Paz.
We´re staying in a very nice ´funky´ hostel complete with pool, but thankfully with a private room we can close the door on the guitar-playing Tristrams when it all gets a bit 18-year-old-gap-year... The city centre has a similar feel to Cochabamba, with another attractive plaza as a focal point and is also very relaxed and perfect for wandering.
Over the weekend, we went for a two day camping trip from Santa Cruz to the Amboro National Park (a few hours away), along with an Argentinian couple. Was beautiful scenery but more on the trees/ plants side as there was unfortunately not much in the way of wildlife (sorry Ben, no bird pics). But we did hear a jaguar if that counts?! Lots of amazingly-coloured enormous butterflies but impossible to photograph well as they flutter at considerable speed! Also lots of creepy crawlies and, in particular, big ants galore as we know from the array of nasty bites we both have all over ourselves.
We saw a few pretty waterfalls and clear natural swimming pools which we took refreshing dips in. Also had a jungle adventure of a different kind when I managed to remove most of my fingertips (my hand modelling days are over...) by attempting a Jane-style vine swing. Not sure what kind of rogue adventurous spirit came over me but I´ve definitively proven that adventure sports are not really my thing... Luckily my Tarzan was close by and rescued me. Charmingly, Sebastian (the Argentinian guy travelling with us) captured my spectacular fall from grace on camera and Roland wanted to share. Nice.
I hope all your fingers are intact and you´re otherwise well. We need to head off to do our Spanish homework (is it cheating that we´ve just bought a dictionary?) before our second lesson later today. Think it may be some time until we´re fluent. Oh well, mañana mañana (no, I´m not sure where the wibbly ´n´ goes).
So, hasta luego from itchy, scratchy us for now.
Take care and lots of love
Helene and Roland xxx