South America Day 45 - La Paz

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February 22nd 2019
Published: February 22nd 2019
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Today, the high altitude portion of our trip begins. I’m not really looking forward to it - I’m not sure I’m designed for altitude. To make matters worse, I have a stinking cold.

We reach the airport 2 hours before our flight. The airline recommends a minimum of 3, which seems excessive in the middle of the night. But we’ve left it very tight. After check in comes immigration. The queue is enormous and it takes 30 minutes to almost reach the front. Then the computers crash and what little action there was grinds to a halt. We finally reach our gate 8 minutes before boarding commences.

We are flying to La Paz. The airport is 4080 metres above sea level. It’s craziness. I wouldn’t want to live 4080 metres from the sea horizontally, let alone vertically. My idea of an extreme climb from sea level are the zigzags on Bournemouth seafront.

We land and get a taxi into town, which is mainly down, 500 metres down, past thousands of houses clinging to the hillside. The traffic is crazy; it reminds me of Lagos only colder.

We reach our hotel which is on a street so crowded with traders, the taxi can hardly squeeze through. It’s early but we manage to check in by 10. While we’re waiting, we have breakfast and I manage to consume my body weight in water melon juice. Then we access our room and I go back to bed to counter the 3 am start, the altitude and the lurgy I picked up in the mould of Easter Island.

In the evening we are reunited with our credit card, which has been forwarded to my neighbour’s Bolivian cousin. Then we go for drinks and dinner with the cousin and her Bristolian boyfriend – I order a Cajun salad so spicy it blisters my lips. Then back for an early night to make up (further) for the 3 am start.

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