A Little Lower, Please
Sorata Travel Blog› entry 5 of 15 › view all entries
Wednesday night was horrible. Ironically, we were staying at a pretty nice hotel, overlooking the bay, with big rooms and double beds. After the long hike, I had been looking forward to a good nights' sleep finally. No such luck. My head was pounding again, and I had a high fever. I wrapped a wet bandana around my head and neck, but every hour I had to get up and wet it again because at the high altitude it dried really quickly. I also began to notice that when I exhaled deeply, I could hear a gurgling sound in my throat and lungs. This panicked me as I had read about altitude causing fluid to accumulate in the lungs which could eventually lead to a serious condition called HAPE. I was certain medical help in Copacabana was scarce...and primitive. That didnt really matter, though, because they say the most important thing to do if you get serious HAPE condition is to get to lower altitude, but I knew at 3am in Copa there was no way I would get to lower altitude. Miserable, I just stuck it through the night.
Thankfully, Thursday morning came. I was alive. We had plans to set off to Sorata which was at a slighlty lower altitude...only 8000 feet, not 12,000 feet. I was hopeful that would help my headache and now cough/gurgle. We hired 'Juan Carlos' to drive us down to Sorata for 100 u.s. dollars in his little van thing. Melissa and Griff took the back, Chris the middle, and me the front (for most comfort - thanks!). We stopped a few times during the 4 hour trip for food, banos, and photos.
Two scary parts to the ride.
First, we had to take the barge again, but this time Juan Carlos insisted that we take a separate 'barco por personas' while he would take the 'barco por coches'. Separating ourselves from our bags was slightly nervewracking.
Second scary part was making the descent down into Sorata once we passed over the Altiplano. It was a twisty, steep, narrow, muddy-at-times road with blind corners. To make matters worse, it was really foggy this morning. Visibility couldnt have been more than like 7 or 8 meters. Further, there was construction along the road in a few places, at which point the road converged to only 1 lane (servicing BOTH directions). And these spots were unannounced. We would just come across a pile of rocks (or worse, a construction worker!) blocking our lane - at which point we'd have to swerve into what instantly became the single, bi-directional lane. Throughout the 1 hour or so descent, we could smell the brakes burning, and hoped they wouldn't fail.
But we made it down into Sorata, a neat little pueblo nestled in a steep valley. AFter looking at a few hotels, we settled for Hostel Paraiso, run by a nice family. Amazing that we basically asked for two rooms, and they instantly showed us the rooms, gave us the keys, took our dirty laundry, and left us alone. No registration, no passports, no length-of-stay inquiries. Guess its the off-season.
That evening we poked around town, took some photos, sat in the square, did some internet, and visited the Spider Bar for an advertised yet non-existent happy hour.
For dinner, we must have set a record. We found an autentico, fixed-menu restaurante where we had a 3-course meal (arguable best food yet) for 28 Bolivianos (or $4 US)....TOTAL. Not per person, but total bill.
After dinner, I went to bed...once again hopeful that now, finally, at lower altitude, I would be able to sleep through the night, without a headache or fever (I had started to feel a bit better, though I still had the gurgle.)
Chris, Griff, and Melissa stayed up to play a competitive game of cards. Not sure who the winner was, but I heard some cheers (and groans).
As for me, I finally DID have a great night of sleep. Woke up only once or twice. Felt great to get 10 or 12 hours of sleep.
(Hard to tell exactly how long I slept since I am not carrying a watch on this trip. Another funny story in itself, as neither Chris nor Melissa are carrying a watch either - so we are continually asking Griff what time it is. But that said, we have also found that in Bolivia, things sort of happen when they happen. Time is merely a combination of numbers.)