>Someone has to spoil the party don’t they? Waiting for my bus the other day in Sucre, my water was stolen by a traveller. I was leaving Bolivia that day, maybe not to return for many years. I scanned my fellow passengers, deciding who it could be. The bus had been delayed due to a fat woman probably arguing she needed two seats. She looked like frank Bruno’s sister. Next to was a worn out Winona Ryder look-alike. (Just imagine all those lesbian showers scene she had to perform in prison) The guy near me was so old he could have met Columbus. He couldn’t have stolen it as it would have shown on his pants soon after. I watched a Bolivian guy steal a sweet from a hawker and decided it must be him. I was to watch him carefully for the journey. I woke up at the next stop. Many got off here and there it was, my water, in the hands of a small boy. I planned how to tackle him. Maybe a clothesline. As I planned my attack, he took his mothers hand and they walked out the bus station. Wimp.
I’d been in Sucre licking my wounds after Mt Potosi which I’ll explain soon. In Sucre, alone after parting ways with Christian, I wrote, studied and planned Argentina. While in a bar, I managed to turn the lights off in an entire place while fumbling for the toilet light. After a 36 hour bus journey, I arrived in Salta and got very pissed in a bar. In the bar, I found a newspaper from 1996. It’s had an article about the famous gun-toting bandy legged superstar Faustino Asprilla. He had just joined Newcastle and I marvelled that it had been 7years since we had signed a discredited footballer.
Salta proved a fun city on the weekend. Both nights I was to be found in a cool club, drinking cheap beer. The argies were good fun and liked their karaoke. I won free beers for my effort in a bar. There seem to be alot posh travellers around argie. People called Will and ´nice’ Ben. People who says “that is so funny” when they didn’t laugh. I decided to move on to Mendoza further where I arrived today on an overnight bus. Buses in argie are better quality and warmer but lack the ability to drive through a medium-sized family without a bump that make Bolivian buses the crazy but interesting experience they are.
The previous days we had been in La Paz climbing Mt Potosi. We went to the same German travel agent to book the climb. Yet again for the third time he failed to remember us. The last time was within the same conversation. This conversation involved us speaking only the first line. Its went like this, Christian: we are interested in the mountain climbing. How much is it? German: its $75. It’s a good price. We leave tomorrow and climb tomorrow night. Okay. Okay I call my guys and they will be here at three to fit u for ur clothes. right so three o’clock. u pay then. goodbye. we hadn’t indicated anything. but we left and returned at three to be met by three smiling Bolivians, two brothers and a son. they fitted our clothes, telling us everything was “no problem” even though I looked like I was drowning in gortex.
they arranged to meet us at 8.30 the next day. one of the brothers was part-time taxi driver. we had to leave before 9am or he would get fined for having his car in the city. we drove there. a beautiful drive over La Paz and into the mountains. this would be my first real mountain climbing experience and I’d chosen a 6000m plus mountain. maybe a bad plan. I was determined but maybe that belied my ability. the mountain looked beautiful as we approached, bathed in sunshine. we climbed up to 5200m from 4700m (about the height of Mt Blanc)carrying our packs and then changed into snow gear and left at 10pm for the summit. the summit was at 6088m. on the way up, my zip on my trousers broke. our guides again said “no problem.” maybe not but I hoped I didn’t get attacked by an amorous yeti.
below in the valley a storm raged, lighting the sky with its power every few seconds. the wind rushed around the peak making it difficult to stay upright. at about 5700m we were hit by a snowstorm. we sought shelter. it was a welcome relief as my legs had been dead for at least a 100m. the storm lasted about 20mins but by then my legs had seized up. I had difficult standing and was frankly exhausted. the top was only 400m away but it was 70 degree inclination and I had to make the choice to stop. it was freezing and I really couldn’t go on. mountaineering is often psychological but I knew that I wasn’t really fit enough to do this in the first place.
Christian explained that it was just really technique but I’d lost alot of weight in Bolivia through illness and to be honest, the gym work I did in Japan and England was merely cosmetic, as Scott would tell u. it did little for my stamina, conditioning and leg strength. it was probably vanity. my legs simply gave up on the mountain. my days riding that bike in Okayama had been to waste! so I headed down with one of the guides and returned to sleep off my disappointment. Christian headed up and made it to the top though he said it was exhausting. maybe I made the right decision but I am bitterly disappointed and have no doubt mr mountain, I will be back.
Christian and I decided to have a farewell beer or ten. after a great night, dancing on tables, we ended up at this party which was one of the strangest I’ve been to. it was 5am but the dance floor was full of women, only women. the tables were rammed with men, only men, all head down asleep. apparently I told a guy off for supporting man u. sat in a bar wondering about where I should go next after Bolivia and a Dutch couple sat next to me with their friends. I wrote and listened to their conversation occasionally. the Dutch guy has without doubt the greatest ability to end a conversation I ever met. three times his comments caused the sort of silence only last heard when bobby “it’s in the past so I can’t remember” robson famously said “lee bowyer is a great human being. I remember when he made that long walk to freedom from those authoritarian bastards in south Africa. I couldn’t turn my TV off, on off. err where is the control betty”.
hope all are well