When I had stuffed myself with enough streetside potato empanadas, I flew from La Paz to Santa Cruz. The dream was to see the wild jaguars in the forests near Santa Cruz.
Drifting off through a one-hour flight and waking up to chew upon the dry fruits that the Boliviana de Aviación attendant served, I landed at the Viru Viru international airport and hopped onto the airport shuttle to go to the central plaza. My travel friend was staying in a fancy hostel there.
As always, I had not read much about Santa Cruz. But my curiosity to talk to the local people makes up for my lethargic online research, mostly. In a casual conversation, the manager of the Santa Cruz airport shuttle told me that Bolivia was still furious about losing the Pacific coast to Chile. He added that the elite businessman and politicians of that wealthy city we were in had stopped caring as they were busy securing their bank balances.
And that is how I was introduced to Santa Cruz, a city where you would forget that you are in Bolivia, if not for the cholitas selling sinful salteñas on the roadside.