09.04. - 10.04.2002: Bolivian Altiplano

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Tuesday, 09.04.2002: San Pedro - Laguna Colorada

Today we went over the border into Bolivia and going from 2440 metres above sea level up to 4950m in one day. The trucks don't like altitude either and the going was very slow up over the passes, still in the desert with the Andes on our left.

Going up to the Bolivian Border

It was a fantastic day with lot of great views onto salt lakes, the famous Laguna Verde and the geysers.

Flamingos, Laguna Verde and the geysers

We were forcing ourselves to drink every 10 minutes to try not to get altitude sickness but for quite a few people it didn't work including Kirsten who got a headache during the afternoon and once we'd arrived at our hostel started being sick, poor thing.

Prue and Helen carried her to a bed in the "sick" dormitory and Helen basically played Florence Nightingale for the night, looking after Kirsten, Greg and Max.

Yet again the loos didn't flush and there were only 2 of them for over 80 people - not the best place to be ill!!

Wednesday, 10.04.2002: Laguna Colorada - San Christobal

Helen´s 40th birthday. She got up at 3am as she could hear someone retching and took them a plastic bag and tissues. Then she went to the loos and they were so disgusting she used the men´s urinal!! It was that or go and get dressed to go out into the freezing cold! Finally got up at 6-45am and took Kirsten outside to go to the loo. In between puking Kirsten managed to say "Happy Birthday" and "I'm sorry". Great start for a birthday!

The truck was decorated with 40 balloons and everyone sung happy birthday to Helen.

Lots of balloons for Helen on the truck

Unfortunately after a sleepless night with all that puke and shit it was a bit difficult to get into a party mood! But we had a balloon fight and got busy getting rid of the 40 balloons whilst we travelled over bumpy roads and had a lunch stop next to a lake with various flamingos including the rare James flamingos.

Watching the rare James flamingos

We also drove through weird rock formations including ones that looked like a condor, a boxing gorilla, a leopard on a jutting rock, and a hanging penis!

That night we stopped at a fabulous place - we were expecting a hell hostel like the previous night but we all got en-suite rooms. Mind you it took Prue one hour to sort it all out - she'd had the same problems the night before. Obviously when you make a prior booking in Bolivia it all changes when you get there! We used the hour to give balloons to the locals who got really mad about them.

Handing out balloons to the locals

But Helen really got 5 star treatment for her birthday - even got a show laid on. It started with a local band playing drums, guitars and pan pipes, who even sung happy birthday in Spanish and English.

Los Baños are playing for Helen 'Cumpleaños feliz!'

Then the truck did Blind Date with Prue as the date, in a pink wig and thick rimmed glasses, and three of the 20 year old lads blindfolded, answering questions like "What's the naughtiest thing you've done and how would you top it".

Blind Date

Then came "Mrs and Mrs" where Kirsten and Helen had to answer 5 questions to see how well they know each other. They got 4 out of 5 - not bad!

Then we got taught how to count from 1 to 5 in Turkish by Vicky and Richard who was doing the funny actions to help us remember - not difficult as its Beer, Icky, Ooch, Dirt, and Besh ( the spelling is probably different!).

Finally, Jason and Graham, who are the only other ones on the truck since Rio besides us, wrote a funny poem for Helen.

Funny poem for Helen

We also had great food including mulled wine and a Banoffi pie with candles on it! It was the best birthday Helen ever had far.

Helen´s birthday cake