Up Up & Away To Bolivia

la paz

Bolivia Is a beautiful South American country that is landlocked by Chile and Peru. It features snow capped mountains , salt flats , rain forests, rich culture, history and so much more. Its locals are mainly decedents from the great Inca empire that long ago carved out the mountains.

Booking the plane ticket for my Bolivia trip was quite interesting. Normally a flight would cost about $1,200.00 but I stumbled upon an amazing deal on skyscanner.net for just $950.00.I knew that booking the  least expensive flight was risky because there’s almost always a reason as to why it’s less expensive. After three planes, two layovers, twenty hours I landed in La Paz Bolivia at 2:00AM and understood why.

I always take pride in finding the least expensive ticket, but occasionally I find value in paying for a little luxury-or at least speed.

I have to admit that although I loathed the layovers in traveling to La Paz  Bolivia, I secretly was grateful for them since I hoped that they would help me to gradually acclimatize to the high altitude that would greet me in the El Alto airport (at *4000 m) and then La Paz Bolivia (10,500-13,500 feet above sea level).

La Paz ((Nuestra Senora De La Paz) ) is Bolivia’s third most populated city, the seat of the country’s government and the the world’s highest administrative capital. The official capital of Bolivia is Sucre but La Paz gets more of the spotlight because it has more government offices. La Paz is located in a bowl in the shadow of the triple peaked Illimani mountain, and between the high mountains of the Altiplano.

illami

illami

As the population grew residents began building higher and higher into the Altiplano resulting in an elevation range from 10,500-13,500 feet above sea level.

At such an altitude it’s no wonder that one of the biggest discomforts and  potential dangers  in visiting La Paz is altitude sickness!

Altitude sickness is caused by low oxygen levels at high altitudes. Over the course of 1-4 days most people’s bodies adapt and produce more red blood cells in order to survive in its new environment.  Mild symptoms can include breathlessness, nausea, headaches, and low energy levels. If the condition worsens it can become dangerous and even deadly. Most individuals will adjust to the altitude after a few days. If the  symptoms escalate immediate medical attention is vital.

As I walked  out of the comfort of the  pressurized  plane, the lack of oxygen immediately hit me. The first symptom was lethargy and  nausea .By the time I was waiting in line at customs I was so dizzy and breathless that I was unable to stand and actually sat down on the floor. Thankfully there was a medic on sight (since this is a very common scenario) who administered oxygen and told me that my oxygen levels were at about 89% and that my symptoms would go away with time. As we exited the El Alto airport I quickly got into a cab and gazed at the twinkling lights of La Paz below me.

After winding  up and down the hilly streets ,the cab finally arrived in front of the apartment building that will be my base for this month. There’s truly nothing as liberating as spending a month in a new destination. After walking very slowly and breathlessly up three flights of stairs I put my belongings down and fell into my bed and into a deep sleep.

Stay tuned for next time……

 

Zoe Green

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