Rides bikes, paddles sea kayaks, takes pictures. Life on the road & my home in Cornwall.
A small grid of quiet, dusty streets in the precordillera of northern Chile, the Aymara village of Putre sits about 75km west of, and at 3500m is 1.2 vertical kilometres below the remote Bolivia/Chile border post at Chungara. The population is somewhere around 1500 but to walk the streets is to wonder that more than about 10 people live here. Being somewhat warmer and lower than the high altiplano, and with some decent (i.e. edible and fresh with reasonable nutritional content) food on offer it’s a good place to rest up and recover, and stock up on food for the next leg.
I’ve been here a little longer than planned (a week instead of 3 days). Feeling a bit rough in Sajama turned into another cold with associated chest problems. Again. There is a pattern, hard, high riding.. get run down, post-pneumonia lungs prone to infection. Still, there’s been plenty of work to get done. Mental and physical energy are quite low at the moment, riding the highlands does take a toll, not only worries about my chest but also planning for food, the never ending thoughts about water, and just the physical punishment of hard days and bitterly cold nights.
Despite feeling rough I had no desire to stay any longer in Sajama village; aside from altitude and cold not being conducive to recovery, the food on offer was really bloody awful. For my last meal there I was served a plate of rice that had the taste and texture of something left out in the dry altiplano air for a week, garnished with a few hairlike strands of a gamey-smelling meat with the consistency and flavour of a gently putrifying leather shoelace. Kind of normal for the remoter spots of the Bolivian altiplano. I did enjoy my couple of days in the village however, riding in from Tomerapi I bumped into a couple of mountaineers I’d met up at Condoriri base camp a couple of weeks earlier; father and daughter, they were great company at the time and proved to be once again until it was time for them to move on.