Exploring downtown

View of San Lorenzo from the plaza

This trip has mostly been spent in the company of family. Adventure and exploring were overdue.

We decided to go to the Plaza 24 de Septiembre, at the heart of Santa Cruz. We’ve been there several times, but most of the kids don’t really remember the experience. Jadzia does remember, though, and she made it abundantly clear that she felt it was pointless.

We took a bus downtown, and it was packed with people. The kids seemed to enjoy the crowded drive.

Once there, we visited the Casa de la Cultura, which had a number of paintings and photos on display. We heard the usual moaning and groaning, but I observed most of the kids were able to find a few pieces of art they liked. We didn’t stay as long as I would have preferred, but it worked out.

The Catedral de San Lorenzo is a beautiful brick church with two towers, one of which you can climb up to a mirador (lookout). The mirador closes during siesta hours (noon to 3), so we only had 30 minutes to climb the steps and explore.

View from the mirador at San Lorenzo

Ludi’s hair goes wild in the strong wind at the top of San Lorenzo.

Inside the clock at the top of one of the towers of San Lorenzo.

Bells at the top of one of the towers of San Lorenzo.

Josie walks out of San Lorenzo

The kids attacked the stairs and went all the way to the top, where you can see the inside of the clock as well as the bells hanging. After that we went down a level to the actual mirador. The last several days here have been warm (70s) but extremely windy. Up so high, the wind seemed even more extreme. The girls’ hair did wacky things.

Eventually a voice announced it was time to close, so we descended and went back to people- and pigeon-watching on the plaza.

Two men play chess at the plaza. Both were fidgeting and grimacing as they planned their moves.

Yoli really wanted to find a particular CD from the Bolivian artist Piraí Vaca. She decided to walk a few blocks to a bookstore that might have it. Meanwhile I watched the kids. Eventually Josie announced she needed to use the bathroom “real bad”.

I dragged her up and down the plaza looking for a place with a bathroom but had no luck beyond a men’s urinal at a public parking lot. Thankfully Yoli eventually showed up and we found a bathroom on the bottom floor of a mall. It was a pay bathroom, of course.

Yoli hadn’t found the CD she wanted, and the store most likely to have it wouldn’t open until 3:30. So we decided to eat lunch and kill some time.

We went to Dumbo, a kid-oriented restaurant with a big playground and lots of ice cream choices. Yoli and I had silpancho, a thin piece of beef breaded and fried, served with eggs, rice, fried potatoes, and a salsa.

Silpancho from Dumbo

After Dumbo, we went back to the plaza and walked behind San Lorenzo. There was an art exhibit, but there were also cannons. Josie and I spotted them earlier while we were seeking a bathroom, and I knew Joseph would love to see them, since he is currently obsessed with the British navy and the American revolution.

Joseph poses with the cannons we found behind San Lorenzo

The strong wind apparently knocked over all the portable art displays, despite each one having concrete blocks at the bottom to anchor them. As we browsed, we realized that this exhibit was pretty much the same photojournalism display we had seen at the book fair earlier in the week. This one seems to have had some extra photos we didn’t see at the fair.

A statue, wall art, and palms swaying in the wind

Looking at photos behind San Lorenzo

After this, Yoli took us on a walk to see the location of her old house, the first one she lived in. Along the way we also passed her old church.

Yoli poses in front of the location of the first house where she lived. That house was eventually torn down and replaced.

At this point there was much grumbling among the Israelites … er, Renaud children. “We want to go back to Egypt… er, El Jordán”

Eventually Yoli brought us to La Mansion, a beautiful Catholic church with a roof and pews made mostly of reeds. It appears that the roof has since been replaced with something more modern, but inside the church the ceiling remains as it was. The pews are also made of reeds.

We spent some time quietly in the church waiting for 3:30. As we waited, a cat walked by. Later it cuddled up to Yoli and Josie.

Yoli and Josie were sitting behind La Mansión church when a cat appeared and snuggled with them.

When the time came, we walked across the street to the artisan craft store. While it was filled with beautifully crafted pieces of all sorts, they had only two or three Piraí Vaca albums, none of which were the one Yoli wanted.

So with this setback, we grabbed a taxi and headed back. It had been a long trek with lots of walking and climbing. Our legs would certainly be sore.

Back at El Jordán, Yoli found Wilma baking a large batch of bread for the boys at the workshop on the other side of the city. She shared a piece with us, and it was fantastic. Nothing beats bread fresh from the oven.

That evening, Boris, Eliza, and Benjamin came to visit us. They brought breads, mate, and cheese. We spent the evening chatting and playing.

About Josh Renaud

Josh Renaud is married to Yoli and together they have four beautiful niƱitos. Find him on Twitter (@Kirkman) or Google+.
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