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Andean Adventures Part 2

We started out for Oruro, Bolivia early in the morning, but we didn't get too far. We stopped to ask directions on how to leave Santa Cruz and a cop stopped us for doing a wrong turn. He told us that the fine was 1000 Bolivianos! ($142). He was going to take us downtown to book us and fingerprint us, which would take us half a day. We settled with him (he wanted lunch money) and we continued on. We finally got out of the city when we arrived at stopped traffic at a bridge. We found out that the bridge was in repair due to the floods that week. Of course, the bridge broke just five minutes before we got there. We were told we would need to wait 4 hours until it would be fixed. Unfortunately, there was no other way to continue our journey; we were stuck. We went to see the damage that was done, and it was pretty bad. The men were working hard stacking crates of rocks. An hour and 15 minutes later, we were able to cross.

We continued on toward Cochabamba and passed close by where Che Guevara was assassinated. We ended up at this place for lunch. We had a high protein peanut drink called Chicha. It was all I could do to swallow, it was so thick! We arrived into the valley of Cochabamba right at nightfall, but we had friends waiting for us in Oruro, so we had to make the windy, mountain road journey at night. Not fun. It took us five long hours.

Not 10 minutes after we arrived at our friends' home, Norb was very ill. In fact, the last time he got ill was in 2001 when we flew into La Paz. Not even a hot cup of coca tea helped the pressure he felt in his head. He lost his dinner and tried to sleep, unsuccessfully. We were sleeping at a mere 3,800 meters. In the morning we bought some medicine and we went to church with our friends. We were asked to share and Norb preached. Despite a terrible headache, he really preached a challenging message.

We continued on our way, because we needed to reach Puno,Peru still that night. In La Paz, we briefly met with our good friends, Victor and Estela Quispe, who are long time pastors in the capital. They too offered us coca tea and graciously lead us out of the city. We drove rather quickly to the border of Bolivia because the border closed at seven. We drove through a river, other smaller vehicles got stuck in the middle! We saw beautiful landscapes, including Lake Titicaca.

We finally arrived just in the nick of time. One good thing about arriving late at a border, especially during a soccer game, is that you can rush through the immigration offices. Norberto cleared 4 offices and 9 stamps in 45 minutes! That's a record.

We arrived Puno that night and found an incredible hotel for a reasonable price. We were thrilled! However, we had no idea of the hardships that were yet to come the next day.


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