And so my trip came to an end prematurely. There was no going back to the mountains, and not even really second thoughts once I had come down to La Paz. I did actually see a doctor at my hotel, just to get checked out so to speak. He said I was as fit as a fiddle, and that my blood pressure was 120/80. I am not sure that I believed him, but I certainly felt the benefits of being at just 13,000 feet or so.
Over the next two days I ate steak, drank wine, enjoyed La Paz, and booked myself an early ticket home. I met up with the rest of the gang who had come down to rest for a day whilst they recovered from not having been able to attempt Pequena Alpameyo. They went up the next day to try to do summit two, Huana Potosi, and some summitted, but that was the end of the line summitwise – Illimani was a no go area due to dangerous avalanche risk, and so didn’t happen for anyone. The mountains, and the weather gods, won this time, as so often happens. The overall trip report is below from our outstanding leader Olan:
In the meantime, I got delayed going home by snow, saw more of La Paz and Llama foetuses than I really needed to, and generally killed time, no more of which I need to record here. I had had a fabulous adventure though, which was capped off by the following when I was flying from La Paz to Santa Cruz in Bolivia on the first of a long leg home:…………………I have left it ‘unedited’ from how I wrote it at the time, which was Friday the 14th August:
“Oh my God” The phrase is so overused. A bit like awesome, a word I have never much cared for.
Today however I have used both, a lot.
I am sitting in seat 1A of an American Airlines 757, flying over the Amazon jungle. I’ve never seen it before until today, and it is absolutely fucking staggering. Sorry about the expletive – maybe I should have stuck with awesome?
This, is the Rio Grande. The greatest tributary, and the lead in, to the biggest river in the world, the Amazon. It discharges more water than the world’s next seven rivers added together apparently. Truly there are no words, in my language at least, to describe how utterly amazed I feel just looking down on it.
I have taken probably 50 photographs on my phone out of the window, none of which I know will ever even begin to convey the marvel, wonder and jaw dropping majesty of what I am seeing. The way the various tributaries snake backwards and forwards, the brownness of the water, the denseness of the jungle for unimaginable distances of vastness, the so abundant and different shades of green, which couldn’t even be replicated on the world’s most complicated supercomputer.
So many thoughts run through my mind: Why have I never been here before? Why is it declining in terms of deforestation as badly as it is and how can governments let it happen? What do the people who live down there think? Do they know how utterly, ridiculously amazing it is? I honestly thought I had seen it all when I saw the Himalayas, or Kilimanjaro and the plains of the Serengeti, but this is better, bigger, and more fantastic, if that is even imaginable as a ‘thing’. I feel incredible.
I feel so very lucky today, and just wanted to capture those thoughts. My plane out of Bolivia (firstly out of La Paz down to Santa Cruz) to Miami was delayed by an hour and a half due to ‘maintenance issues’. When I get to Miami I will miss my connecting flight out of here back to the UK, and have to probably sleep on this floor of the airport. None of that matters. I have seen under almost cloudless skies the majesty of this earth. The Bolivians have a name for this – Pachamama, the Mother Earth. Well Mother Earth, I see now, clearly, and almost for the first time, just how stupendously beautiful you really are.