After leaving the clinic with Roberto and Doris, we immediately caught a series of taxis to go to Cotoca.
This is my second time visiting Cotoca. We last visited in 2008. Doris took us to her favorite place to eat breakfast. Yoli and I had already eaten some bread at the ProSalud clinic, but we enjoyed a cafecito with an arepa. Yoli makes these at home now, and they are among my favorite Bolivian things.
We walked around the plaza for a long time talking. Roberto and I walked over to the church, which is now sporting new colors. In 2008, it was white and blue. Now it is white with tan and dark red. Roberto said this was to make the church conform more closely with other Chiquitano missions in the area. Makes sense to me, but I still think it looked nicer with blue.
Yoli wanted to buy a slingshot. So we looked around the market until we found some hiding under a the tarp roof of a stall. Squirrels back home, be warned.
After this we took a taxi to Doris’ hometown of Paila.
I have interesting memories of Paila. During a fishing trip with my cuñados, we got stuck in traffic in the town. The problem was the bridge across the Rio Grande. It was a rickety one lane bridge, shared by cars and trains. A car was stuck in the middle of the bridge when a train came, and things backed up on both sides of the river for hours. So we unloaded from the Jeep and walked across the bridge to another little town called Puerto Ibañez. Eventually traffic cleared and Alcides brought the Jeep across to pick us up.
You can click the link above to read the whole story of the fishing trip (it’s worth it) but I want to point out one other connection to today’s events: I had the same wheezing problem as I tried to sleep in the Jeep that night/morning. Out in the middle of nowhere, there was nothing to do but just breathe each loud breath and hope it wasn’t waking or bothering anyone else but me.
We stopped at the home of Doris’s mother and got a tour of their property. They had some really nice palm trees, along with some baby trees just sprouting up. Roberto and Doris say they make make a business later selling these. They take five years to grow and can fetch $200.
As we were visiting, a neighbor came. She had lost her new parrot and wanted to see if it was on their property. They didn’t find anything for a while, but then Yoli call me to come. The little green guy was hiding atop a tree.
For lunch, Doris’ mother took us to her favorite stall for fish. We had a great lunch of sábalo and boga, which is a local fish caught in the river. Both were very tasty, if a bit bony.
Eventually we made our way down to the river. I got to see the big new bridge, built beside the old one (which is now for trains only). This new bridge was under construction back in 2007 when I passed through. The two bridges are the longest in Bolivia.
After a nice visit, we four shared a taxi back to Santa Cruz. Yoli and I needed to rest and write blogs and get ready for her class reunion that would take place later that night.