There were two groups of people as clients. Half were people like me, and half were serious amateurs. They seemed to climb every 6-12 months. They knew the guides and sort of formed a sub-group. These were the people who would be climbing and not taking the class. They seemed to spend most of their time talking about past climbs, upcoming climbs, and what’s up with guide so-and-so.
The theme for the day was to never pass up an opportunity to visit el baño. I lost count of how many times I had to empty my bladder.
We started out driving through La Paz up this really tall and steep hillside. I’ve never seen anything like it. Then suddenly at the top, the hill ends, and we’re on a plateau. This is El Alto, where the airport is. It has to be 1000-2000 feet higher than La Paz.
Even though I had emptied my bladder at the hotel, one of the guys had to stop at a pay toilet near the airport, so I went also. You paid 50 cents (Bolivian) through a small hole the size of a mail slot, and a person gave you a small amount of toilet paper in return.
We continued on to the ruins at Tiwanaku. Along the way. Good views of the mountains – Huayna looked really scary. The winter in Bolivia is the dry season, and Altiplano looked sort of like the desert in the western US.
I thought the ruins would be like an Incan or Mayan temple, but these were from a much older culture, roughly 1000 BC to 1000 AD. Halfway through the tour (with our own tour guide), I was having trouble concentrating, as my bladder was ready to explode. One of the guys asked the guide about using a bush. When I saw what he was doing, I did so as well.
We had lunch at a nearby restaurant, where most of us had llama and quinoa soup. Ironically, there was a pet llama tied up outside in the yard.
We did a quick tour of the museum (and baño), then drove back to El Alto to pick up the head guide, who had been doing stuff in La Paz during the morning. We then drove a couple more hours north to Lake Titicaca. To get there we had to take a boat. To avoid some fees, we got off the bus (visited the baño), and then took a small boat across, while the bus went on the ferry. Apparently it would have cost more if we were on the bus.
We drove over some large hills and got to Copacabana, where we had dinner (local trout). Afterwards, a number of us were going to go for a walk around town. I was a bit late getting down from my room, and I missed them leaving. I had to hurry to catch up, which is a pain at 12,000 feet. It was very hard to hurry when going uphill.
As I was unpacking my things at the hotel, I had a panic attack. I wrote: I think I screwed up badly. I don’t know what I was thinking. I only pray to God that this might be fixed. I’m pretty sure that I left my down jacket in my stuff that is staying back at the hotel.
That is, I did not have my down jacket in the stuff I had brought with me, and I seemed to remember putting it into my large pack, which I would not see again until after the snow and ice school.
I felt almost sick to my stomach about the situation. I had spent so much time agonizing over the jacket and in fact buying two (but only bringing one). How could I possibly have left it behind! I had so desperately wanted to not be cold on the trip, and then I screwed up my repacking.
The previous few nights, like at home, I’d woken up in the middle of the night with a drippy nose. So that night, I tried taking a zyrtec after dinner as well as in the morning.
So far, thank God, I seemed to be acclimatizing OK.