As you can see we are back on the phone and back in Antarctica.......(we've tried believe us)
Denise goes for breakfast and brings John back a ham and cheese sandwich.....whilst John pays the bill and checks out. Denise then sips a coco leaf tea and we wait for the taxi. For 10 soles we are taken by little more than a cart-truck to the airport by which point our lungs are suitably full of whatever fumes come from whatever fuel they run these cars on.....? Even pink diesel that most of Barlborough (past life) runs on doesn't taste like this. Regardless, we tip generously and walk into the check-in hall and join the chaos that appears to be for the Aerosur flight to La Paz. Only 2 flights a week run this route and it is attracting all walks of life - convent nuns, orthodox Jews, back-packers, and people just happy to flee the car fumes we guess. Everything is manual here, booked passengers are on lists, which you tick yourself off from when invited. Armed guards keep order and there are signs all around telling you not to put anything of value (which according to the pictures includes calculators
and Sony Walkmans) in your checked luggage. Obviously the baggage handlers at either Cusco or La Paz have not yet been accredited with their "Investors in People" award yet. our bags are manually searched (which syndical John wonders is a prelude to tipping off someone which bags to look out for......?). We pass all checks and pass through security, which at Cusco international Airport is 1 multiple-tasking individual.......and take our seats at the departure gate alongside the disciples of mother theresa. John enjoys is croissant. The plane is 90 minutes late whilst some tribal dances are performed in the departure hall when a stream of military personnel arrive .......very random. Aerosur is not yet at the sophisticated level of operations that say BA or Virgin Atlantic operates at, and we are given no English translation of safety or evacuation procedures on this rather old 737 aircraft. Our flight is about 90 mins and we fly over much of the terrain that we will be travelling back through at ground level later on the trip - the highlight being the view of Lake Titicaca as we Passover. La Paz airport is 4050m + sea level and is a rather ramshackle operation
again, though it does have 2 people manning the passport control and immigration desks.
The increase in altitude hits straight away and the chest begins to tighten and reactions noticeably slow. US$10 gets us a taxi ride to our 5* hotel (£60 a night) in downtown La Paz.
The airport is on the edge of the great Altiplano and as if you fall off the edge of a cliff you descend into the huge bowl that is the city below. Not a supercity by South American standards only circa 1m habitantes but a surprising dramatic landscape, which the high rises of the business district at the centre of the bowl, the shanty houses on the Walls of the bowl, and the snow-capped tips of the Andes in the backdrop. Cusco was just an hors-dueve compared to this. We descend to the hotel at 3600m and then 11 floors to the room. The city is less hyper than Lima but more soulful. Traditional dress is widely worn, Spanish is the only language apparently spoken and the US$ is not widely traded - which for us is a problem as we have no local currency. Straight to bed and the
entire afternoon is lost to the sickness again. John eats coco tablets and Denise drinks the tea, but we decide to write the day off and enjoy a room-service dinner (circa £10 for 2) and try to sleep. Denise fairs better and sleeps ok, John is vp ottomh and sleeps badly, but being a man doesn't like to complain......! We've both lost weight already and since the one "need" in Cusco, the toilet has been a stranger to us - which is becoming a worry.
As with all our treks we try to manage on a budget of only £500 each for the duration, which so far is not coming j DDR Amy pressure and is allowing us a good standard, when we are awake to enjoy it.....! Our comfort is that Lonely Planet & Rough guide both tell us shat is happening is perfectly normal and will pass. La Paz is exciting and we're looking forward to exploring tomorrow.
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