Tuesday, 29 April 2014
Bolivia - from the Amazon to the Altiplano
We only had a limited amount of time to spend in Bolivia so we needed to try and get across to Sucre as quickly as possible. This is no mean feat in Amazonian Bolivia where there are not many decent roads, incredibly slow buses and often road blockades due to strikes. The only option was to fly. After having our passports stamped we jumped into a tuk tuk like vehicle and went straight to the airport. It was not the kind of airport you would expect, but a dirt field with a temporary check in desk under a corrugated roof with some benches. A new terminal building was under construction but the work seemed to have come to a halt. There was a plane sitting in the field and we hoped that we may be able to grab a last minute deal. Unfortunately the price was too high and eventually we settled on a "negotiated price" for the flight the next morning. Ty paid the cash requested (no cards accepted) and received no tickets (slightly concerning). The airline company member of staff gave us a lift back into town and told us to come to the office at 8am for the flight at 9.30am.
The next morning we waited outside the office for an hour and eventually got into a vehicle to go to the airport. There was no one there and no plane. After another hour and a bit waiting there was still no one at the airport and we wondered what sort of vehicle we would be getting on. Eventually a tiny plane landed and 3 people got off. It took around an hour to get to Trinidad, but that was not where we wanted to be. After some inquiries we had booked another two flights to get to Sucre on the same day. Finally we made it to our destination. However, we were 2750 metres above sea level which was a bit of a shock to the system after being in the Amazon for a while.
Ordinarily, take-offs are no big deal for me. But when a barrage of alarms and warning sirens blares out from the cockpit in a 40-year-old propeller plane just as you lift off.... I definitely started to pay attention!
It's amazing how flat the Amazon basin really is - and how the rivers meander and wind in such a serpentine way. I remember learning about meanders and oxbow lakes in high school geography - but this is crazy.
After a couple of days in Sucre (nice enough place), we got in a car winding up, up and up onto the altiplano and Potosi. Over 4000 metres in altitude!