Once Bolivian cities were fabulous places, where luxury and beauty competed with European capitals, and silver was mined in the mountains nearby. At one point, the mines dried up, and time stood still.
Guests who have reached from Brazil to Bolivia (this is the most common route) the first city on the way will be Corumba. This is an ordinary Latin American town, with the only difference that it is located right on the border. During the day, border guards are on duty, but by the evening they dissolve: it is assumed that the traveler will look later himself - during working hours. So there is an excellent opportunity to remain an illegal immigrant for the entire duration of the trip – which, however, is not recommended. True, in the hotel you will be settled without the cherished stamp in the passport, because you will bring money - and what difference does it make where the money comes from, if there is one?
Local roads are devoid of a hard surface, and therefore the cities of Bolivia are very dusty: it covers everything from houses and leaves of trees to human physiognomies. Around any more or less significant street, a spontaneous market is scattered, where gifts of local and European civilization are traded interspersed.
And the republic is famous for coca, which for centuries has been raised high in the mountains without any sanctions from the government (often this is due to strikes of drug policemen or border guards): it is understandable, the country is poor.
In any local city there is a central street with a bar and a hotel, as well as a local "plaza" - a place where fast food is located. But do not wait here For Friday's or McDonald's with air conditioning: there are no European fast food chains in the country. Look for a rusty grill where chicken is fried.
Nearby there are long plank tables surrounded by Indians (there are more than 3/4 of the total population here, although they do not pull on the dominant majority with their appearance). The latter live even poorer than the Latinos, almost do not know medicine and dental services and look like sleepy flies in syrup. But perfectly bred flies - it is not customary to eat with your hands.
By the way, almost all food products in Bolivia are imported, this is due to history. When these lands were ruled by the Spaniards, they forbade the production of food products in the New World (with the exception of Mexico). Here, nothing could be produced at all - only to extract from the ground or collect cooking from trees. Everything else was supposed to be purchased in the "advanced" New Spain or imported from the metropolis or from the Philippines.
A damn bright and beautiful city under tourmaline red roofs. Narrow sidewalks are covered with veils from the sun or rain. The city is replete with temples and is generally quite cramped - this is a classic example of Spanish architecture of the XV-XVI centuries, but if in Europe and other former colonies progress has stepped far ahead, then time has stopped. The only thing that has changed over a hundred years is that graffiti appeared on the walls.
Santa Cruz enjoys the fame of the third capital after the official Sucre and La Paz, where diplomatic missions are located. And here is an industrial center that attracts the inhabitants of other regions.
Minus the historical center, it resembles any other economic and business center, differing only in the presence of a historical cemetery (the largest and most beautiful in this part of the world, if not on the Earth as a whole), as well as an abundance of monuments.
In Sucre, you will have to get through the high-altitude Cochabamba along the serpentine for an amount equivalent to $ 4. Travel time is 10 hours. The air in the mountains is discharged, cold, dry and generally unpleasant to live here. But the locals have no choice.
The roads are narrow, and if two cars meet, you have to drive away, standing at the very edge of the cliff and hovering over the abyss.
Before the arrival of Europeans, Sucre bore the name Charkas - in honor of the founding tribe. In 1538, a Spanish military expedition came here, and the place was renamed La Plata, then to Chusicaca, and only in the forties of the XIX century the name Sucre appeared - in honor of the first Bolivian president who won the final victory over the Spanish invaders. Witnesses of that era - alive, but silent - remain colonial buildings, palms of wide squares and huge Catholic churches.
However, the most important Bolivian city is Potosí. Here the whole history of the country flowed, Europeans came here, and the aborigines added their experience and wisdom to their zeal and vitality. Still - silver here could be found under your feet! One of the legends says that the conquistadors discovered the precious metal by accident: they built a fire, and by the morning the ground sank, because under the hearth there was an exit to the ground of precious rock.
In 1625, Potosi, where there was so much silver that it seemed to be enough for everyone. It was the second European city in the world after Naples , literally was the center of the world. Huge buildings, churches and richly decorated with silver and gold altars of temples, competing with Byzantine ... The lion's share of the metals mined here, however, went by sea to Europe, and a significant part also settled in the hands of Dutch, English and French pirates and privateers.
In the middle of the XIX century, the silver mountain dried up, instead of two thousand mines, a maximum of 30 remained. The brilliance of this place faded, but shortly before the Second World War it shone again: tin was found in the mountains, which was necessary for the development of the military industry. But the second dawn was short-lived, and now the place is once again plunged into darkness, despite 33 magnificent temples and the former mint of casa de la Moneda, which now houses an exhibition of Spanish and local paintings.
This town is cold and hazy, located high in the mountains and damn beautiful, although breathing here is unusually difficult. The subject of special pride of the locals is numerous "high-rise" records: there are the world's highest racetracks, banks, cinemas and even a circus. Surprisingly, high-altitude public toilets are awarded the same honors.
Unfortunately, countless records did not affect the development of the town. This is an ordinary Latin American and not very densely populated place with small inclusions of historical quarters, otherwise it is quite modern, where densely placed multi-storey houses are interspersed with sooty churches and cyclopean billboards on various topics. As in Russia of the 90s, the basis of urban public transport is made up of fixed-route taxis - they are called "micros" here: both their external and internal components are similar to the degree of confusion.