celebrates the traditions of this tropical region on the last Sunday of August with a festival featuring traditional games and typical "cruceño" food, dances and music. Most interesting, however, is why "cambas" began to celebrate this day. Thus the customs of Santa Cruz were rescued from oblivion and saved from being replaced by other foreign customs. Simultaneously, with a new appreciation for their roots, people began to protest against this rampant drug trafficking. This is how Santa Cruz Traditions Day began and now it is celebrated both in the capital city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and in rural areas, even though each town in the rest of the department also has a specific date on which it celebrates its local traditions.
This year, the festival will be celebrated on the 29th of August under the slogan "200 years of struggle for our culture and freedom" as Santa Cruz also celebrates the Bicentennial of its First Cry for Independence this year. (A different slogan is used each year, depending on what the most relevant events are at the time).
Visit the local markets specially “Las Siete Calles”, “Los Pozos” y “Mercado Nuevo”. They are all in “El Centro” and are relatively save. “La Ramada” is probably the largest market and is quite a culture shock for any body from abroad. He you have to be a little more careful, it is just outside “El Centro” and close to the bus station.
Check out the German-speaking Mennonite communities in the countryside around Santa Cruz. There are more than 60,000 Mennonites living in this region. Originally from Central Europe, Mennonites came to Santa Cruz from Canada, the USA, Mexico, Russia, Belize and Paraguay.
The Mennonite people are one of the many different ethnic groups that live in Santa Cruz. They are very peculiar, they are a lot like Amish people from Pennsylvania. Mennonites speak a dialect of German and the live in small communities all over Santa Cruz (there is lots of them). They are mainly farmers and you should be very respectful of their privacy and their traditions. They are friendly people, but they are not used to people from outside their communities (don not approach the women or the children). Many of them speak English because they emigrated from Canada to Bolivia.
Preparing local pastry (Cuñapé, Zonzo, Masaco, Empnadas de queso, etc…) in the huts by the Piraí River. Check out my travelogues for more pictures and information.