Feeling a little dizzy from the altitude sickness that everyone experiences in La Paz, so I’ll make this entry as straightforward as possible…
The 11 of us woke up at 5:30am this morning in Valparaiso and pre-booked 3 cabs to pick us up from the hostel for the bus terminal:
Paid about 2400 Chilean pesos ($4.50 USD) per person for the 2 hour bus ride to Santiago via Tur Bus. Left at 6:46am and got there 8:35am:
There I had my friend from Richmond, VA — Julie Bravo — meet us for breakfast! She’s doing a study abroad here for the year at Universidad de Catolica on Latin American studies, so I figured, why not meet up if we’re in the area?
Afterwards we hopped on a 1700 Chilean Peso ($2 USD) Tur-Bus for the airport, which took about a breezy 30 minutes. Then we got on our LAN flight and flew to Iquique for a brief stopover:
At Iquique, we were asked to get off the plane to go through immigration formalities exiting Chile:
Then we reboarded the same plane for La Paz. The whole process took about 45 minutes:
Once arriving into La Paz after 45 minutes in the air, almost everything started to go wrong:
- La Paz is the highest capital city in the world, and its El Alto Airport is the highest international airport in the world at over 4000m (11,000ft) above sea level. So all 11 of us immediately started to feel severe symptoms of altitude sickness the moment we got off the plane: light-headedness, dizziness, headache, etc. Some of our lips have turned purple.
- They didn’t have enough immigration visa forms for us to fill out so we ended up waiting an hour for them
- They took only USD cash for the visa ($135 USD) which many of us didn’t have
- When trying to get money out of the ATMs for the visa (which was on the other side of the airport), one of them ate Shanika’s card
- Karthik realized he left his memory card (that has all his photos of the trip) back in Chile
On the bright side, their airport has free (and FAST) wifi! Here’s hoping that the rest of our stay in Bolivia gets better.
– At time of posting in La Paz, it was 48.2 °F – Humidity: n/a | Wind Speed: 9km/hr | Cloud Cover: haze