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Published: March 7th 2014
Starting last night I began to feel the effects of altitude sickness. It starts with a really bad headache, tiredness, loss of appetite, restless sleeping and in my case, lots of nausea. I felt well enough to head down to dinner in the hotel and had the most wonderful chicken soup and spaghetti Bolognese. I took a couple pictures, but really couldn’t justify putting up yet another chicken soup or spaghetti Bolognese shot. I have a feeling you can come up with an image in your mind. I didn’t sleep well at all, but when it came time to get up, I was too tired. I snooze alarmed for an hour and a half. Then of course came the mad dash to shower, gather my things and head down to meet my tour guide. I was right on time, but missed breakfast and of course the most important meal of the day, coffee. Now, I am being honest when I say that I did not guzzle down the bottles of alcohol from yesterday. I did take them back and used bottled water for brushing my teeth; however, today I felt as if I had been on a full on drinking binge
last night. Altitude continues to kick my butt, but we all know I will prevail and beat altitude back into the ozone. I guess the fact that La Paz is the highest national capital in the world may have something to do with this. The airport is the highest international airport in the world at 13,323 feet (4,061 meters). To put things in perspective, most airlines fly around 30,000 feet, so the airport is already almost half way there. The runway has to be extra long to make up for the lack of oxygen. Who knows if I was just imagining it, but it did seem like we took an inordinate amount of time to come to a stop.
Today’s tour was a 4 hour tour of La Paz. It was a bright, sunny day with deep blue skies and lots of fluffy clouds. This was another tour where I was the only person on the tour along with the guide, a very friendly and knowledgeable woman named Sylvia, and the driver. La Paz was still quiet from the previous weekend’s Carnival. Sylvia said that many people were home with hangovers from offering alcohol to Pachimama, Mother Earth. We
drove out to Moon Valley, a site that taracloud and I plan to visit later. This was a quick jaunt through to marvel at the desert like landscape. The soil is mostly clay and has been eroded into seemingly carved pillars. I thought that it looked like a glacier that had been cast in clay. The rumor is that Neil Armstrong named this place because he thought it looked like the moon. Being the skeptic that I am, I asked the guide how it received its name, and she laughed and said she heard it was by an astronaut. Well, who knows? Regardless of how it was named, it was an incredible place.
From the Moon Valley we drove to a lookout point where it was very easy to see how La Paz is arranged. On the top is a flat area called El Alto, which is where the airport is located. El Alto is now a separate city, but the residents mostly work in La Paz. Yesterday while riding in from the airport, I noticed gondola style cable cars crossing the street and heading down to La Paz. Today I found out that the President has given 3
lines of the cable cars to help move people around town. The red line that I saw will take people from El Alto down to La Paz in a short period of time versus the long drive down. My first inclination was to see if I could get a ride on one, but they are not open yet. Still it was nice to see. Unlike many places built on hills, the wealthy sections of La Paz are down lower. The views may not be as great, but the weather is nicer. Looking around it is amazing how they have used almost every section of the areas. I will put up some pictures, I know- who would have thought, and hope you can understand some of how the city is arranged. After leaving the viewpoint, we went to a restored street and visited a museum featuring gold artifacts from the era before the Incas. While I am not a big museum person, even I was interested in these pieces. Our final stop was the Witches Market where all sorts of potions, offerings and just about anything you could desire. If I had a need for a llama fetus, I now know
where to purchase one.
After touring around for several hours, I was pretty beat, so went back to the hotel for a quick nap and then lunch. You may find this hard to believe, but I chose a Quinoa Tabouleh for lunch. There is just something about quinoa that I love. This one was nice with bits of finely diced tomato, cucumber, and ham. I sat in a little café on the top floor of the hotel, ate, read and enjoyed some down time. I find that I struggle with having down time when I am on vacation. My thought is that I should be on the go and seeing everything I can possibly see, even though I recognize that a vacation often includes sitting, reading, resting. Tonight was given over to that. I did pack my bags for tomorrow’s trip to Copacabana. Hopefully I will feel better and will be back to my normal self.
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