Sleepless in Bolivia

June 9, 2010 (Day 22)

Oh, what a night!

Besides observing the spectacular star-lit sky in the middle of a Bolivian desert, there's nothing like spending a night with a completely drunk stranger as your room mate, who passed out in your shared bedroom in a freezing cold salt hotel.  I have never heard anyone snore so loud!  So there I was in my bed, trying to fall asleep all night long while this guy snored pretty much the whole night away.  And when he wasn't snoring, he wasn't breathing!  Oh yes, he finally stopped snoring. Oh wait, is he breathing? Hmm, it doesn't sound like he's breathing? No, he must be breathing really quietly. Hmm, that's a pretty long time without hearing any breathing? Should I get up and check?  Ummm... I just can't hear him breathing.. oh wait, maybe I should check.. Nah... Is he dead?  Ok, I'm getting up.... and then the snoring begins again. Sigh, that's a relief. Oh wait, is it really? I can't sleep! And I can't breath! And random body parts are becoming numb. This is not good...

So there I was, wide awake all night long, tossing around in bed, under a couple of alpaca blankets, in multiple layers of clothing, trying to maintain body circulation. All while I made sure my roommate didn't die on my watch... so frustrating... 

Morning finally came with breakfast at 6... let's just say that my roommate didn't take the wake up call very well... with verbal threats of slicing our guide's neck wide open with a butter knife, and his violent tossing of his own belongings out of the room, it was time to grab my stuff and get out of there before it got any worse!

After breakfast, we departed for Laguna Colorada, passing other lagoons on the way as we passed through the Siloli Desert.  Our route reached an elevation of approximately 5,000 metres above sea level as we passed through ever-changing landscapes that were simply spectacular.

At about 2pm, we reached Laguna Colorada, where we appreciated its red colouration, which is derived from algae and plankton that thrive on its minerals. It was a very nice sight to see, especially with the flamingos strutting their stuff in the cool water, along with the alpacas, llamas, and vicunas grazing along the shoreline. 

That being said, I was honestly a bit disappointed as the red colouration of the water wasn't as vibrant as in all the photos we saw. I guess I was a victim of Photoshop.  

We then continued to our salt lodge, where we arrived around 3pm, and had nothing to do for the rest of the day but keep each company and staying warm as we nibbled away on the crackers they provided.  I'm not sure why they were in such a rush to get us here.

This night was going to be the coldest night of the trip, and it definitely measured up to those expectations. Slowly building up layers of clothing as the afternoon and evening progressed, it became progressively harder to stay warm, especially after dinner, and by 8pm, everyone was in bed. Not only were we in basic salt lodge accommodations at high altitude sharing a bedroom with all our fellow tour group members, but we were also sleeping on a thin mattress that was the only thing separating us from the concrete slabs we were laying on, and it was quite a long walk through a drafty hallway to the washroom. Definitely basic sleeping quarters.

This was without a doubt the most difficult night of the trip for me. After putting on all my layers, getting into my sleeping bag, and covering myself with the blankets, I still found it cold (even with my toque). I somehow manged to fall asleep, probably from the lack of sleep the night before, but then I woke up around 11:30pm, only to find myself extremely hot. I overdressed. I started shedding layers and then found it too cold. My favourite new buddy was snoring again, and I couldn't fall asleep. I walked around in the hallway a bit and took in the breathtaking night sky, and headed back to bed. I think I fell asleep for a while and then woke up again, breathless.  Oh God, I thought I was dying. I was taking deep breaths and it wasn't helping. To top it off, my snoring neighbour was breathing very heavily and quickly so I think that I must have been subconsciously thinking that I had to breath that quickly as well, which I couldn't, and I started panicking. Definitely not good. I took an altitude pill but those don't work right away. But eventually, I was able to settle down. Morning couldn't come soon enough.

1 comment:

  1. Looking up at the clear night sky tonight, I think back to Bolivia and wish I did more stargazing


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