Serious Altitude!

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Apr 12, 2011

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday 27th.  
The last overnight bus trip we had to endure was probably the worst, it was from Uyuni to LaPaz, 10hrs or so.  During the first part of the journey I absolutely cooked, being next to the heating system and the road was insanely rough and windy. After a stop, when the bus was stifling hot they turned it completely off and eventually it became quite cold for the rest of the trip!  Other members of my tour crew endured a whole other world of pain when some Israeli dude did the unthinkable, took a crap in the coach toilet (against etiquette) and stunk the back half of the bus out.  After arriving in LaPaz and taking a quick nap we all headed out for breakfast and had a walking tour of LaPaz.  We went nuts when we got to the market area and bought up big.  Alpaca jumpers at $12 each was a hit.  Beanies, gloves, scarves, ponchos, leg warmers and more!  In the afternoon we arranged to go to the Cholitas Wrestling  The typical Bolivian woman with their big fat layered skirts, shawls and the bowler hats, in the ring with some fat ugly masked male wrestler!  It was HILARIOUS!!!   We watched matches between guys, then multiple guys, guys against the referee, women against guys and finally two women belting each other up!  It was so stupid!  Fake blood capsules were going off!  The audience was going off- throwing popcorn, plastic cups, biscuits, whatever lightweight thing that was handy.  I found myself getting into that action whilst yelling out "fish face" at a masked losing wrestler!  The fights took place inside the ring, on the ring and quite often outside the ring, and sometimes into the audience arena, of which we were in the front row seats!  There were dogs cruising around the arena, toddlers and the odd tourist in a mask, prancing around flexing muscles.  Lots of fun!  Especially since I took my special flask of vodka!  We stopped at the lookout on the way back to see the amazing night view of LaPaz lit up right throughout the whole valley.
Monday 28th. 
Alisha was sick during the night and I also lay awake for one horrible hour when my flea bites (from the Uyuni hotel) flared up and almost drove me INSANE with itchiness!!  The day got better though.  Alan and I were the only ones who opted for an optional tour to a mountain top. The van driver headed North from LaPaz and started climbing higher and higher until we started reaching areas with patches of snow. The scenery was quite bare and with occasional lakes and a beautiful backdrop of snow capped mountains.  We eventually got to a Chalet which was at 5300m above sea level.  I got off the bus and walked a bit wonky to the toilet because I was very light headed. We set off on the walk to the peak of the mountain.  It was steep and at that altitude I quickly became out of breathe and my heart was pounding so hard.  I had to sit down a couple of times to stop my head spinning.  I would take 15 steps and then rest for quite a while, then take another 15 steps.  It was steep going, sometimes a 45 degree angle.  I adjusted as we went up and by the end I was taking 25 steps at a time between rests.  The scenery to the West was spectacular with Mount Huayna Potosi looking so majestic with itīs snow capped rugged peaks.  The clouds came and went, sometimes hiding it from our view.  Once we got the to top we discovered that we were at an altitude of 5580 metres above sea level!!  That is SERIOUS ALTITUDE!   OMG!  This is a milestone for me that will probably never be beaten!  We took more pictures and then made our way back down, watching the forever-changing scenery as cloud came in and out.  Our driver took us back down the mountain, back through LaPaz and into the southern region, which is only like two thousand and something above sea level!  We explored a park with sandstone cliffs and weird shaped columns.  They call it the "Lunar landscape" but it is a bit like the Lost City in the Northen Territory. I spent the rest of the evening shopping and buying some more alpaca goodies.  We had our farewell dinner with our wonderful Bolivian guide, Karina at a rustic restaurant with open fires. 


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