Friday, June 3, 2011

If You See An Ocean, You're Not in Bolivia

Of course I know Bolivia is a landlocked country. That didn’t matter, however, when I fell asleep on my overnight flight from Miami to La Paz. In my dreams, we approached La Paz flying over the ocean. It was beautiful, actually: bright, sunny, sparkling waves, impressive skyline. We flew rather close to the water, but this didn't concern me because, in my dream, flying low was simply part and parcel of arriving in La Paz. The pilot, however, brought the plane a little too low and a large wave came up to meet us, lifting the plane as if it was a surfboard.

Though water began to fill the plane, no one, including myself, was afraid, only slightly annoyed at what we had to do: gather our belongings, put on lifejackets, and evacuate. I considered leaving some things behind to evacuate quicker, but I hated the thought of my laptop getting destroyed and hastily gathered my things before heading to the airplane door and exiting via yellow emergency escape slide.

Once outside the plane, we walked the rest of the way to the airport, trudging through the surf. Laptop in hand I explained to some guy walking beside me that I thought something like this would happen and that I regretted not putting my laptop in a plastic bag to safeguard it from the water.

At that point, I woke up and found that, despite the plane still being up in the air and my laptop resting safe in my bag, my surroundings were not nearly as nice as in my dream. Outside, it was dark and, inside the plane, I was sandwiched between the window and a stocky man whose left elbow had been encroaching on my personal space all night. In addition, my mouth had that waking-up-in-the-morning taste and my inflatable neck pillow had a hole in it. Fabulous.

Nonetheless, seeing the city lights below made reality more tolerable and, soon after, we landed. When the sun rose, I looked out of the airport windows and saw…mountains. No ocean. No swimming required. Seemed like I was in La Paz…if I needed more proof, all I had to do was breath. With La Paz sitting 13,500 feet above sea level, feeling like I had suddenly developed a heart condition (that left me dizzy and breathless) was another sure sign that I was well on my way to Cochabamba.

**I took this picture as I flew out of La Paz, en route to Santa Cruz (where I caught a flight to Cochabamba).

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