Cooking With Kurma

Kurma Dasa

Kurma's South American Tour

Cooking With Kurma > Travel Diary > South America

Part Three: Cochabamba, Bolivia

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Day Ten

click for larger imageMy last night in La Paz had not been a pleasant one. Perhaps it was the apprehension of an early morning start tomorrow, or maybe the physical exhaustion after five straight days of teaching, but despite my willingness to sleep, I could not. The fact that it is mid-winter and that we are so high up, means that nights have often been sub-zero. Tonight was especially cold, and my lack of sleep made it seem even chillier. This was my worst night of the debilitating effects of altitude sickness, so by the time 3.00 am came, I was happy to get up, shower, do some japa meditation to pacify my mind, and pack for the next leg of my South American adventure.

click for larger imageWe posed for a photograph with Mathuresh and his family. Mathuresh’s wife Roxana would be joining us in Cochabamba – she would fly there the next day and meet her two older children who were playing in an International Junior Golfing Tournament. As the stars disappeared above the misty mountain landscape, Mathuresh and myself loaded up the four wheel drive, packed some drinking water and breakfast, checked our luggage one more time, and bid farewell to Roxana. 

click for larger imageFinally we strapped in Mathuresh's little daughter Sarita into the baby seat, and headed off into the sunrise for our 5 hour drive over the freezing high plateau to Cochabamba. Our route from Mathuresh's palatial house took us into the city, then up and up the winding streets to the outer suburbs of La Paz that were perched on the very edge of the chasm’s crater, then up even further to El Alto, the world's biggest shanty town. We drove through the bleak adobe and unadorned brick suburbs, past bustling early morning markets, past locals setting off to work, and kids playing on the side of the road.

click for larger imageWe reached the flat highway that would take us in a South-westerly direction 250km across the altiplano and then over some steep mountains again before desending into Cochabamba, which, mercifully, was situated at a lower altitude than La Paz. It was a long drive, and the scenery was harsh, yet beautiful. Occasionally we would see a few locals walking between villages, and sometimes llamas, but most of the time there were just us and the vast expanse of untamed natural scenery.

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