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A Sad Day in Bolivia

Posted by on September 16, 2010

This post is for the day of July 27 and the days that followed.

The title was my status on Facebook as well, it was still too unreal. After such a great day in the salt flats, today was at the opposite end of the spectrum. Way down the other end. I’ll skip on details – I still find it hard to discuss, and those who wanted to know either have or will ask and generally have their own specific questions, stuff that isn’t something you put on a blog. Well I don’t.

Suffice to say, early morning, I watched my friend pass away, despite the best efforts of two wonderful nurses staying at the hotel, and a doctor who came from the hospital. The rest of the day is a blur, but if it wasn’t for the wonderfully helpful staff, including the driver Gustavo who took me everywhere I needed to in town that day to sort out, well, everything necessary, it’d probably have been a week. That night, an Agency took Amal and me to La Paz, a long, windy, bumpy, cold, miserable drive of 15 hours. Even the amazing view as you come into La Paz, after the El Alto slums couldn’t be properly appreciated. I dealt with the necessary initial details at the funeral parlour, and got dropped off at the hostel, guttingly having just driven past Blair, who I saw walking in the other direction.

A short time later Blair arrived, he’d had my emails saying Amal wasn’t feeling good, but the final truth was a shock. The next three days were spent attempting to sight-see, do some photos of La Paz, Blair managed to mountain bike the Yungas Road, and each day I’d deal with emails and we’d go down to the funeral parlour to sort out whatever the latest details were, or what was needed to repatriate Amal. The frustratingly bad internet in our hostel didn’t help with things, and the phones in town going down for a day added to it.

The Friday I spent six and a half hours online in a cafe which Blair had found had a good connection, and with the help of Shane and Scott online found first cheaper sudden-notice return tickets to New Zealand from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then Scott came up with an bizarre (but cheaper than others) route from La Paz to Buenos Aires, to get me there in time for my long-haul flight.

Blair’s flight from La Paz to Santiago was on Sunday, but my travel started on the Saturday, so after a 5.30am start to get to the airport, we parted ways for a few days. Next…the trip back.

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One Response to A Sad Day in Bolivia

  1. Shane

    It’s almost 2 months on and reading this again I still can’t quite believe that day.

    Above the obvious, I think it should be said that we are all glad you were their as his friend at the end. You efforts to get him home to his family were simply unbelievable given the events.

    You are a good friend to us all Mark. One of the best.

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