Steve's Adventures in South America
I bought a one-way ticket to Venezuela and I'm not coming back until my tube of toothpaste runs out...

Huayna Potosí, First Sighting

Eliseo Soldiers On

The guide gets up at 06:30, it's barely daylight and still below freezing. I stay in bed until I'm summoned at 07:30. Breakfast is Coca Matte, Sugar Puffs in strawberry yogurt and bread'n'jam.

There's an old man bumbling about who looks after the campsite (but its in ruins!) and I have to pay him 10 Bs. He needs to borrow my pen to write out the receipt. Only then do I discover I have no change and neither does he. I have 7 Bs or a 50 Bs note. Stalemate. He doesn't just want the 7 and I'm not giving him the 50! Compromise. I give him the 7 Bs plus my bic biro!

Huayna Potosi :: First Sighting

We walk up a pass to 5,050 m and at the top I get my first sighting of Huayna Potosí. Woah! She's a big girl and looks cold, steep and technically difficult! We walk back down into the valley to 4,700 m and stop for lunch. It's fried cheese and pasta, still warm and in the pot it was cooked in at 06:30 this morning. All the time Eliseo was clutching his old Nokia mobie, anxious for a call from the office, something about equipment. Despite his worried look he claimed it wasn't important. Just as well because the call never came. I console him with hot sweet coffee from my Thermos that I made at breakfast. I wanted to try chewing some Coca leaves today to see if it did anything but I found I'd mislaid my personal stash last night. Who needs it anyway?

Steve Peers Over the Precipice

From lunch we ascend to 5,000 m again. Much to Eliseo's dismay I clamber to the top of a steep peek for a look around. He didn't like me racing off on my own. On my return he points out Lake Titicaca} below the horizon - cool! It's my first sighting.

On the way down I had to administer First Aid. My big toes were paining, it felt as if they were rubbing in my hot sweaty boots. Fearing blisters I applied layers of micro-pore tape as a preventative. A trick I remember Brett Jones preaching during our treks in Spain. What can I say other than it seemed to work! But then my knee joints kept giving twinges of pain. I put it down to nerves, being oversensitive and hoped it wouldn't get any worse.


I observe many caterpillars wriggling rapidly around on the grass, relentless in their pursuit of new pastures. Breathing hard and gasping for air myself I can't help but wonder, "Do Insects have lungs?"

Our Camp Complete With Auto-Donkey!

We hop over a wall in a small pass that was built to keep Llamas out! Down to 4,700 m again we walk along a dirt track to our next campsite - some long abandoned farm site. Our pack donkey was replaced with a motorcycle which soon overtook us. We set up camp under the towering Huayna Potosí. I note it's getting closer. I got a little concerned when our "auto-donkey" broke down soon after leaving. For a good ½ hour it sat revving in the distance seemingly unable to engage gear. A friendly dog appeared out of nowhere and I didn't see how it could survive the freezing night. Eliseo seemed adamant that my prediction of 3 people and a dog in the 2 man tent wasn't going to happen. He was right, the motorbike magically fixed itself and the dog ran back to it's shelter over the hill.

Sunset :: Time To Get Cold

Eliseo said he's really impressed with the speed of my walking at this altitude. I would usually say he's just being kind but I'm also aware we've not been going slow either! Dinner and bed again for 07:15. Lying in the tent we exchange words from my English / Spanish dictionary. Eliseo is keen to learn English, shame he's unable to say "The"! Bless.

Posted by Steve Eynon