-06:00 brings us into La Quiaca where the elevation really starts to get to your head. Breath slowly, breath deeply, and hold the air inside your lungs. Day 1 has officially begun, and waiting here in the Bolivian border town bus terminal/refugee camp feels to me like our big step into the world we've been looking for.
Last night as I got on our big rickety bus and sat down, I just arbitrarily got this swelling feeling of extreme contentment to be doing what I was doing - just to be where I was. Sitting next to George on a bus to the gateway of our adventure just conjured feelings that top easily those of anything one could ever smoke or drink in search of the sensation. Life is good. George feels sicks.
- Upon getting up on our first Bolivian bus, a supposed 12 hour ride which cost US$3.12, I was a bit disappointed to find that it wasn't actually as horrible as Bolivian buses seemed to be in the stories I'd heard. It had seats, windows (albeit covered in tape), and most other expected qualities of your standard low-quality bus. Then, it left the terminal of Villazon, traveled a bit more than a block, and broke. Hooray Bolivia and its buses. I guess I'm happy with that. We've now been waiting an hour by the side of the road for a new bus to come. Bolivia rocks.
-On the evening of day one, George and I find ourselves at 3000 meters looking over Tupiza, Bolivia, chewing ojas de coca y bicarbonato to maintain healthy breathing patterns. The altitude is cruel. If hiking 2 km to 3000 meters hits me this hard, its hard to think of taking on 4700 meters above Quito, Ecuador. But thats in 2 weeks. We have time to develope ourselves into full-fledged Incan highlanders. We never actually planned to be here in Tupiza, but after our bus broke down we really had no other choice, so a 21:30 departure tonight will bring us into Potosi at 05:00 tomorrow. It's kind of nice to be here, though; its quite a ways off the beaten path, and obvious reasons to be here don't quickly present themselves. In fact, when we asked a local man what kind of things are cool to do here, he showed us a map and said, "Well a lot of people like to go walk over here, and also a lot go to walk over here, but also its popular to go walk over by the river."
Tupiza - and excellent place for walking.
Our bus seriously didn't take a single paved road to get here, and that rocks. The entire path here was punctuated by large, half dug holes in the road, almost as if the Bolivian government has some sort of initiative to at all times sport the world's greatest quantity of unfinished road work.
This town its self sits in a small valley (about 2 km wide) in between some jagged red rock mountains brushed with yellow and orange. The people and the buildings and the landscape and the mountains all converge here to make exactly what I'd hoped to find in Bolivia: a 3-course meal with desert for US$1.40