Thursday night at 10:30pm, we climbed on a bus bound for Santa Cruz. Other than the nearly two hours of stop-and-go traffic at the check-point in Chapare (the region known for its coca and cocaine production), it was a good trip and we arrived at 9:00am Friday morning.
It was our first time visiting Santa Cruz and we were surprised at how wide-open the city felt… the lack of mountains and abundant farmland outside the city helped with the ambiance! After a breakfast of salteñas, we made our way to the New Tribes Mission Etnos missionary training center to see Abby, a teen from our sending church, Bethany Baptist. She is in Bolivia for two weeks with a NTM short-term team and we were excited for the opportunity to see her, the first Yooper we’ve encountered since arriving last June. 🙂
We visited for a bit and were shown around the grounds of the center, which trains nationals for missionary work among the tribes of Bolivia. I (Lindsay) was able to help make lunch for the team and after lunch we joined in various work projects with the group. We’re grateful to have each had a chance to work with Abby and have more time to talk with her!
We stayed with our friend, Lauren, who showed us a little of the city and introduced us to a new game (Pirates Cove… we highly recommend it!) It was great catching up with her and hearing how her ministry has taken off. She helps at a children’s home that held a mini-World Cup while we were there and I went to watch. While we were watching I made a new friend – three year old Naomi, who led me around by the hand for quite a while!
Saturday evening saw us back on a bus, and we got home early Sunday morning. It was a quick trip, but we enjoyed it and are grateful for the time we had with Abby and Lauren!
Buses are a popular and economic way to travel large distances in Bolivia. Most are common coach buses and show an in-route video (often an 80s slasher flick), make one stop during a 10 hour trip, and may or may not have a bathroom.
When we take longer trips – especially overnight – we prefer sleeper buses. They remind me of first class on an airplane, with three seats instead of four in each row. The seats also recline pretty far and have leg supports, so we can sleep pretty well!