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Iain and Jo

Getting high in La Paz

BOLIVIA | Friday, 29 May 2009 | Views [1405] | Comments [7]

The ‘little altitude sickness’ we mentioned in our last entry turned out to be a bit more than that for Jo. She’s fine now, but spent almost three days in bed with altitude sickness and stomach ‘issues’ before calling a doctor at 1am and being admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties. We weren’t sure whether we over-reacting by calling the doctor, but he later told us that Jo’s finger-tips were turning blue due to a lack of oxygen, and by the morning the rest of her might have been a bit funny-lookin too.

It turns out that our 30 minute flight and 3700m altitude increase up from Rurrenabaque had caused Jo’s lungs to take in some water, but we caught it early and luckily our Columbian / French-Canadian doctor was really nice and incredibly knowledgeable about the illness (I think a lot of gringo’s end up meeting Dr Oscar at some point in their travels to La Paz). The private hospital was fine, and much better than the phrase ‘admitted to a bolivian hospital’ conjures up.

Iain got a bed and meals as part of the deal. The only problem was the troupe of 25 (yes, we counted) staff taking turns at visiting, looking, checking, feeding, washing Jo and delivering bursts of rapid-fire Spanish medical terms that we didn’t understand (our doctor translated the important stuff though).

After 30 hours of oxygen, a drip and some random pills, she’s fine, and we’re looking forward to moving on to Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca (which some guidebooks say is the highest lake in the world, and others say it’s a bit of a lie) and finding ourselves some hammocks.

Backpackers here are always looking for somewhere to stay that’s outside of the ‘zona tourista’ ... I guess we found it!

Tags: altitude sickness, hospital, la paz




I hope you're up about and looking less funny-looking soon.

I resisted the urge to make a lot of "funny-looking" comments then. I think it came off ok. Admire my restraint. :P

  Michael D May 31, 2009 10:33 AM


My god, that's a bit scary! So glad to hear you are now on the mend (and you too Iain, as they obviously had to look after you too!). I wasn't sure you'd be up for visiting the highest lake in the world next! Good luck!
lots of love xxx

  Catherine May 31, 2009 10:24 PM


Well, its good to hear you guys are experiencing new things! Jo, Simmy has always said you liked trying new things...(like Michael, I too am trying very hard to now make any 'funny-looking' comments)

Glad to hear you'll be okay. Sounds amazing (as usual). Missing you guys. See you in a few weeks.

Love and Hugs


  Tom Harpre Jun 3, 2009 7:55 AM


Hi there,
Graham told me what was going. Glad that you are all better Jo. Enjoy you trip.

  Sarah Jun 4, 2009 12:35 AM


Glad your well again and able to continue enjoying your adventures. Jenny sent me your blog.Have a great time. I'm so envious. Take lots of pics(need I say) and don't go to high again. Enjoy and come home safe.

  Rosemary Jun 4, 2009 7:49 PM


Good to hear that you are having a usual adventurous trip! Tom's obviously keen to get you back thinking you were back in a few weeks...he shed a couple of tears when I broke the news that you gone for longer. xxoo

  Liz & Luke Jun 11, 2009 9:03 AM


OMFG Sweetie!!!!! We're so glad it all turned out ok! there's a "horror travel story" for the records...

keep well and come safe - hopefully the Saints' unbeaten winning streak will still be intact when you get home!


  allie & cam Jun 14, 2009 8:06 PM



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