La Paz craziness

Trip Start Apr 05, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Friday, July 9, 2010

La Paz had the weirdest effect on me. I've heard from multiple people how La Paz is a crazy town, and easily to be fall in love with. Already in the first minutes of wandering around in it I felt what everyone had meant. This was one crazy special town.
Witchmarkets where you can buy all kind of potions, including dried lama phoetusses to protect your home. Youngsters dressed up as zebra's guiding traffic in a very enthousiastic way (zebra - zebrapad :) ). Cool bars, restaurants, and many clubs, often known for cocaine.

Laetitia and I checked in in a big hostel, not having a vibe I felt really good with, more like an impersonal factory. Our dormitory room was at a busy street where many very old busses drive with bad bad bad exhausts. Our roomy was a cool french guy, who played a bit with my ukulele and then went out to buy a guitar, serenading us for a while. Pretty sweet, live music in the room. He was very chill and cool, but sadly enough left the next day. I showed him how to make macrame-bracelets and then peacefully fell asleep.

About half an hour, I wake up, in panic. Out of nowhere. Not just panic, REAL panic, a feeling I've rarely felt before in my life, a real profound and deep, real fear. The rest of the night every time I would fall asleep a little later I would wake up with a horrible, very deep panic feeling, having to get out of the room asap. Being afraid of everything, what I am doing, why am I living, and realising I will die some day and being so scared for that. I wandered around in the hallway, tried to write down my thoughts, tried to concentrate on breathing Vipassana-style (that helped the most), and counted down for morning so internet would work and I could skype home. This was one of the most horrible nights I ever had, I even felt like I really really just wanted to go back home and be with my friends. This was such a deep fear, I almost hyperventilated, it was crazy, and scary. This scary night also took forever cause I could only sleep 10 minutes every now and then, and then wake up again in total fear while the whoel hostel was sleeping.

The next day was better, daylight seemed to calm me down, and I had very good calming skype-calls with Joke and my mom. So glad internet exists.

I went to the immigration office to change my 30 days allowed in Bolivia to 90 days and of course had problems there. Borders and immigrations always seem to give me a hard time, Murphy... They claimed the stamp already said "90", which obviously was not the case, but they looked with 3 people for 20 minutes with a "vergrootglas" (?english word? glass that makes you view things larger) and then eventually agreed because I wasn't agreeing, that they would put a new stamp just to make me happy. Luckily!! Crazy cause it obviously said 30 before, and everyone at the border only got 30. I KNEW I would have problems leaving again if they wouldn't change it. But they did luckily put another stamp, yaay! Why does it have to be that hard again :)

The rest of the day I was glad to have Laetitia with me. Made me wish a bit that I had someone to share my trip with. Although more than 95% of the time I feel perfectly happy, when I for example have a nice hotelroom with beautiful view for no money, I do just wish I could share the joy/surpisedness with someone.

I started noticing how my breathing went very bad that day. I started feeling anxious many times. The altitude couldn't be it, I was used to it already for a while, living in Cusco and hiking Salkantay. Although, maybe... It was even higher in La Paz. You could especially notice it when walking up stairs, after 5 steps you are grasping breath. Also, when I want to drink from my waterbottle, I swallow 3 times and I have to stop to breath a lot cause it would feel seriously like I was under water for 2 minutes.
La Paz is a funny shaped city, its deepest point is in a kind of valley. So that's where we were, down there, together with the many many cars and busses. I started noticing that I was feeling very "benauwd" (again... whats the english, like a scary feeling when you can't breath enough).
Our room didn't have any ventilation, and the window pointed at a narrow and very very busy street, full with exhausts. On top of that there was a hole in the window, which made that our room had a lot less oxygen than the hallway. I only noticed this the second night. And again, every time after a short time of sleep I would wake up with a very profound panic-feeling. Now I realised it was probably because my body sent a signal to my brain that I was suffocating. I barely slept but avoided real panic-attacks like the last night, by realising it was caused by the lack of oxygen (which still was a very scary feeling).
What a craziness, right? Anyways, I wanted to leave La Paz. Eventhough the city was very fascinating and worth a lot more of my time, I was feeling very unhappy, wanting to go to the ocean, CRAVING an ocean or sea nearby, feeling locked up without air to breath in the middle of this continent.

So there I went, to more than 1000m lower, Cochabamba. Sadly Laetitia and my ways split up here, she's one of those people I immediately felt a connection with and new we could be great friends if it got the time/chance. Well, you never know, the world is a small place.

So now I am in Cochabamba, feeling totally fine again, but that's for the next blog! :)

Hugs to all, and if anyone wants to join me traveling, you're welcome ;) Miss you guys! And I still really miss the sea too.
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Maud on

magnifier... that's English for " the object that makes things look bigger"
Sorry can't help re. benauwd!!

Anyway, just to let you know, I follow your adventures, I don't comment much (never?) but I follow... you make me smile, dream, think, cry (I cried once, don't remember which post, but I did...) and I just wanted to thank you for that!!

Take care.


ruben606 on

we miss you too...
take good care ML... always and for ever

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