The Train to the Clouds

The drive from the airport to the city center isn’t terribly long, but Eduardo insists on engaging me in conversation. Never mind the fact that his English is almost as lousy as my Spanish! I’ve learned by now how to say one billion in Español and when I reveal to him India’s population statistic, he can’t stop shaking his head in disbelief. Mucha gente, he says from under his breadth. The rest of his questions about my homeland run the gamut. Do people eat meat? Do they drink alcohol? And most importantly, how are the chicas? Muy lindo, I assure him!

Having sufficiently beefed up his knowledge about India, he sets me down at No.770, General Güemes, my address in Salta for the long weekend. Conveniently located, Espacio Mundano is a quaint little bed and breakfast, kitted out in traditional Salteña aesthetic; plenty of potted plants, heirloom furniture, and the all-essential patio.

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Bolivian wanderings, and a slice of Peru

First and foremost, a special shout out to Yesmy and Roxanna, the two amazing women working the reservations desk at the Amaszonas office in Uyuni. Without their efforts, a lot of what I am about to share would never have been possible. The guardian angels of Uyuni, as I like to refer to them, I will forever be grateful.

El Alto landings

The runway at El Alto is almost 4-Km long! Not for nothing though – at that altitude, aircraft land at twice their sea level velocity and need every foot of tarmac available to them. At 13,225 ft, El Alto is also the highest international airport in the world, and a gateway to La Paz, the world’s highest capital city.

La Paz itself sits in a bowl surrounded by the Cordillera Real, a branch of the Bolivian Andes, flanked on its south by the imposing snow-capped peak of Illimani (at 21,122 ft., the highest mountain in the range) and the equally impressive Illampu, to its north. El Alto lies on a plateau some thousand feet higher than the capital, and the drive down from there to La Paz offers some rather dramatic views.

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