As the song says ¨Well, I climbed a mountian and I turned around¨ the song was remade by the Dixie Chicks, made originally by Fleetwood Mac (thanks Amy). Anyway, it was in my head as I climbed yesterday.
Yesterday I rode in a bus for 2 hours and reached Mt. Tunari with my some of my team and 18 of the 27 short terms we have with us at the moment. Mt. Tunari is the highest peak in Central Bolivia and is visible from Cochabamba. We took the bus as far as the road would let us, which was 14,500 ft above sea level. After that, those of us that wanted to, began the hike up to the summit. Keep in mind folks, at least you chicago folks. Ya´ll live at less then 1000 ft! Coch is at 8000 ft. The higher you go, the less air you have. So when we STARTED to hike from 14,500 breathing only got harder the higher we went. Here are some pictures of the bus trip up:
I was worried about the hike but wanted to give it a try anyway. My knee hasn´t been bothering me all that much lately so I said what the heck. Its now or never and up I went. This is the lake we started the hike from:
The first section wasn´t too bad, like walking sideways on the side of a mountian, not going uphill yet. The next part was the steepest incline I think I´ve ever tried to climb. Unfortunatly, I didn´t get a picture of it first. I was much to focused on breathing! Halfway up I was really struggling to breath and wondering if I´d even make it to the summit of this small hill. I did make it, thank God, but I knew I was done for this hike. By the time I got to the small platoe (sp?) I was wheezing and coughing a lot. I looked at the next incline and said ¨nope, not going to happen¨ so I parked myself on one of the many rocks and rested. We think I was probably at around 15,100 ft. This is the view from where I sat. This is the next incline I didn´t hike:
And these are the other directions:
I sat here for over an hour just being in awe of God´s creation around me. I spent a lot of time in prayer and just listening for God´s voice as I seek his direction in my life. I didn´t have any visions, or hear any voices (other then my friends when they screamed when they reached the summit), but I did enjoy the solitude and time of reflection (¨and I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills¨ another part of the aformentioned song). There wasn´t any snow but there was a good chill in the air and I was glad for my layers, hat, and scarf.
Finally I grew bored and started to hike back down the mountian by myself. Probably not the smartest thing in the world but hey, I´m super woman right? There were a few slips and slides but nothing broken or twisted and I didn´t get lost. I was happy to be back in the warmth of the bus and to talk with those who opted not to climb. Many of the short terms were struggling with severe reactions to the altitude (fevers, headaches, stomache aches, ect). I seemed to be ok, but then I´m used to the altitude of Coch.
Now for some funny stuff. This is not like a north american national park. If you had to pee, you went and found a rock and peed behind it. Now that was fun :)
To the local wildlife, it was US that didn´t belong, we were on their turf. This is the best picture of the trip for me. This is me and Al (Alpaca, like a llama but smaller and softer):
And these are the oh so famous Bolivian llamas:
Local houses, can you pick out the house from the landscape?
We finally headed for home, all 25 of us, exhausted, sore, and not feeling well. Even I had a headache. But we ran into a bit of a roadblock:
And that was my Tunari adventure. Maybe someday I´ll make it to the summit, Lord willing. For now, I am happy to have seen the beauty I have seen. And I am thankful for God´s hand of protection on me while I climbed back down that mountian.
Coming soon: my 6 month recap.