Monday, 29 April 2013

Bolivia - You Unravel Me

Traveling non-stop is hard on your body. Your skin starts breaking out because its so dry or you get bed bugs from a dodgy hostel. All these minor things I could cope with. I've aleady given up a lot to be here and that includes creature comforts. However it all started to REALLY fall apart once we landed in Bolivia.

I feel as if this country ran up to me and went "want to know the real South America?" at which point it punched me in the head, kicked me in the stomach then ran away with all my money. Severe altitude sickness left me weak, vomiting, constantly nauseus and gasping for air at the smallest of tasks. At the same time food poisoning from the water in a fruit shake left me with diarrhoea and dehydrated. Some sort of insect had given me a swollen, red right eye and bottom lip. Plus I got a visit from Aunt flow, I needed more red blood cells, not less!

Kevin got really sick on our first night in Boliva where we went from around 2000m to 4500m in one day. He was in terrible shape and I spent the night by his side making sure he had everything he needed. And everyone who knows Kevin knows that he is lean, mean running machine. "If anyone was to get altitude sickness we thought it'd be me" I told one of our room mates. Famous last words. 

But it was partially my fault. I thought I was OK since we've been at elevation for 2 days now. So I had a small amount of red wine with my lama steak on the last night. And I know now that I wasn't drinking enough water. And then we went on that extra bumpy jeep ride to the Uyuni salt flats at 4am in the morning. And then I started throwing up. In fact I can proudly say there's a smudge of vomitus somewhere on those salt flats with my name on it. I took some gratuitous photos and then crawled into foetal position in the jeep for the rest of the day and didn't move. Not for lunch, not for the train cemetory. I was over it. 

But it was not over me. Just as the tour finished in Uyuni we were to take a 12 hour bus that same day straight to La Paz. We were promised a spacious, nice bus. "You don´t take risks in Bolivia" the travel agent told us due to the high liklihood of a drunk driver rolling the bus over a cliff. We got a shitbox that rattled so hard on the poorly made Bolivian dirt roads that I think I deserve some sort of medal for the herculean effort I made not to throw up and defile the one toilet we had on that bus.

On that bus Antoine, one of our lovely tour mates noticed Kevin tucking the blanket over my feet to make sure I didn't get cold. "Oo Toneee you arr so lucky!" he exclaimed in his french accent. I thought he was joking because out of the two of us I'd much rather be in his shoes. But I know he was right. I am very very lucky. To have Kevin who got me countless cups of coca tea, did our laundry, put beanies and socks on me and brought me chicken soup. I can't even fathom what I would have done on my own. So even though Bolivia broke me, Kevin carefully rebuilt me back up again.

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