Pounding headaches, shortness of breath, nausea and fatigue — altitude sickness sucks. At some 3,600 metres, the Bolivian capital city of La Paz can pose a real challenge to travel writers filming a tv show. When filming the show, I can't help but feel weak, I’m constantly thirsty and have lost my appetite. Bummer. When I do eat, my stomach reacts angrily. My fingertips are tingly, my head is throbbing and all I want to do is lie in bed, curl up and watch TV. But duty calls: I have stories to research, people to interview and articles to write.
I never thought a visit to the world’s highest capital city would affect me. Bah, I thought to myself. I’ve hiked the Machu Picchu trail, I’m in pretty good shape, I’ll be just fine. Well, flash forward to me climbing through the streets of La Paz. A few minutes’ walk up a mild incline and my chest is heaving, my heart is pounding. I feel like I might collapse in the middle of a busy downtown intersection. Between huffing, puffing and fears of cardiac arrest, I manage to whisper, “Damn altitude.”
I head out on the town, slowly making my way through cobblestone streets. Drained and exhausted, I miss the ease of sea level; those days when I could walk a block and not collapse. Elevation has never been a consideration before but, up here, it dominates my world. But I suck it up and get ready for my close-up....
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