Urban Pleasures of La Paz and Descent to the Yungas

Final Dispatch for BAI Bolivia 2003

I mentioned the hot showers that awaited us all at the Hotel Europa late in the evening of the same day we reached the top of Huayana Potosi.

Jack and Alex at the manicuristBut little could prepare one for all the luxuries and civilized activities that members of our group would find for themselves in the next 24 hours in La Paz. My favorite scene was when Woodie and I caught Jack and Alex having manicures at the Hotel beauty salon!

After a day of shopping, eating (we had a wonderful meal at an argentine Restaurant near downtown.) and relaxing in La Paz we drove down the 3000 meter (10,000) descent by road from La Paz to the Yungas – the Amazon Basin. The lush, green fruit trees and rich forest sounds of birds and insects was a welcomed contrast to the life we had known at elevations over 12,000 feet for our first two weeks in Bolivia.

Descending to the YungasThe bus ride down to the tropics was a long one on the switchbacked dirt road, but there are few places in the world where one can experience such climatic change so quickly.

On the 27th of June, we drove back to La Paz and enjoyed our “Farewell Dinner” at the Vienna Restaurant. We had a private room so that we might be as loud and proud as we felt like being. As it turned out we were quite subdued, enjoying the chance to relax and visit on the last night we would all be in Bolivia together. The private room was a good idea however – Alex Willis was seen with his shirt off at the table before the evening was finished!

Flowers in the Amazon BasinThe same American Airlines flight that had delivered us from Miami earlier in June took us from La Paz to Santa Cruz, Boliva and back to Miami leaving early in the morning. From the window of the plane we could see the gleaming glaciers and steep ridges of Huyana Potosi and the other giant peaks of the Cordillera Real. We also looked across the sea of clouds that stretched over the Amazon. We left with rich memories of the colorful, gentle people of Bolivia, fabulous geography, and great friendship we had shared within our little group of climbers, trekkers and travelers.

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