Thirdeyemom

Sleeping at the Foot of a Bolivian Glacier

Author’s note: This is a continuation of my post series The Drive to Condoriri Valley. To read post click on link. 

“I think it’s my adventure, my trip, my journey, and I guess my attitude is, let the chips fall where they may”. – Leonard Nimoy

Within an hour our entire campsite was set up and our home for the next few days was ready. It had been awhile since I had camped outdoors, and I had never camped at 15,500 feet before. Although it was nearing summer, I knew that it would get cold once the sun went down and the winds picked up speed, sweeping cold air off the ice of the glacier.

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

A view from the dining tent. My tent is the small white one in the background with the glacial tongue shortly behind it.

Since we had an hour or two before dinner, we decided to explore our surroundings by taking a short hike to the mouth of the glacier. The rain had stopped but the wind was fierce. We had heard that this time of year can be rather temperamental in the Andes which explained why we were the only ones there at the camp site. In another month or two, it would be filled with tents and trekkers. Yet despite the questionable weather I felt lucky to have the entire view to ourselves.

While we were hiking I thought about what our guide told us about Bolivia. Having traveled to many countries in the past that have limited freedom of political choice and expression, I was interested to learn more. Although Bolivia has democratic elections, it still is a rather authoritative place. The government has been run by President Evo Morales since 2006 and he recently changed the constitution allowing him to run a third term in 2008 which led to his reelection in 2014.

Known as the first indigenous leader of Bolivia, Morales is a leftist who dedicated his 2014 win to Cuba’s Fidel Castro and the late Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez with the words: “It is a triumph of the anti-colonialists and anti-imperialists.”  He is mostly loved by the people of Bolivia as a champion for indigenous rights, anti-imperialism, environmentalism and lifting his people out of poverty. However, Morales is obviously a controversial world figure especially in the United States.

Some of his critics both in Bolivia and abroad have labeled his administration as authoritarian and radical, known for monopolizing political power, undermining press freedom and destroying all political opposition.  His desire to establish strong ties with Cuba, Venezuela and Iran has made him unpopular with the US government as well.

In my eyes, it is an all too familiar story about a power-hungry politician. It is alarming to see lack of freedom of press, speech and political opposition. I wonder if Morales will easily give up his power when the time is right or if Bolivia will become a dictatorship like Cuba. As one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, after Haiti and Nicaragua, improvements in quality of life is also critical. Access to education, health care, jobs and opportunities may undermine his leadership if the cards aren’t played right. Or they may force the government to crack down even harder. Only time will tell.

“Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases”. – John Adams

I do find it rather disconcerting that so many places in the world are ruled by power and corruption. I reflected on power and freedom a lot as I hiked around our base camp in the Condoriri Valley. For some reason, hiking and being outside is the one thing that clears my head and really makes me think hard. Perhaps that is why I love to be outside so much. I am a deeply reflective person.

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

The beautiful Condoriri Valley

We walked to the foot of the glacier to the sound of the wind. Off in the distance we heard distant rumbling that reflected off the mountains in an eery way. Could it really be thunder in the Andes? I had never heard of it before occurring at such high elevation. If so, danger could be on the way.

It reminded me a bit about the current political situation in Bolivia. Too much power is not a good thing. There is distant rumbling and a possible storm brewing ahead.

P1060738-1

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

A closer look at the glacier

And off we go….the adventure begins.

“I think it’s my adventure, my trip, my journey, and I guess my attitude is, let the chips fall where they may”. – Leonard Nimoy

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

The path ahead

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

Getting closer, the wind picks up

“The true adventurer goes forth aimless and uncalculating to meet and greet unknown fate”. –O. Henry

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

And then we reach the glacier. From a distance it is massive but up close you can see exactly how huge it is. To think of the thousands of years it took to create. We are just a flicker of time in the grand scheme of life.

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception”. – Aldous Huxley

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

As we head back, I wonder what tomorrow will bring. I am nervous about sleeping at such high altitude and even more nervous about our first hike up to the top of Mount Jaillaico which is at 16,899 feet (5,152 m). It has been a long time since I’d been that high. Would I make it?

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

“That is the exploration that awaits you! Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence”. – Leonard Nimoy

References:

Morales wins third term in Bolivian presidential election 

Bolivia elects Evo Moraes as president for third term via The Guardian

 

32 comments

  1. It’s interesting about Eva Morales, whom I have read about in the past but not recently. Reminds me of Porfirio Diaz in Mexico. Too many men just let power go to their heads and strive to control everything and everyone. I think it’s happening in the US too, perhaps more subtly. It’s pretty obvious who’s running the show there, and it’s not the general population.
    I like all the thoughtful quotations you included. Great post.

  2. Love the Leonard Nimoy quote Nicole. Evo Morales sounds just like many African presidents. They will do anything to cling onto power. I’m sure that our South African president wishes he could change the constitution and become life president like his counterpart, Mugabe. Not at all good for the people of the country. They forget that they are supposed to be servants of the people, and treat their countries as their own personal fiefdom. 🙁 Wonderful photos. I can feel the cold and hear the silence.

    • Yes so true Sylvia. So much of Africa and parts of the world are ruled by ruthless dictators. It is quite scary isn’t it. It makes me very sad.

  3. Wow… what an incredible place!!!

    I am not in a position to comment on the politics of Bolivia, but I could feel the power of the mountains from your images…

    I won’t mind going to any corner of the earth, if such a view is guaranteed.

    Thank you so much for sharing and this post been quite a beautiful read 🙂

    • Thanks! Yes, the Andes are remarkable but the Himalayas are quite grand too. I love being outside and I especially love the mountains. I love your photos by the way. they are always truly amazing!

      • That’s one really great complement 🙂

        Thank you so much for the encouragement, I am trying hard to improve 🙂

        Have a beautiful day ahead 🙂

  4. I love reading your reflective thoughts. I wonder if the political scene will improve in Bolivia? Power without conscious and greed without compassion are horrible things. Sometimes, I feel that way about Nicaragua, but there have been so many improvements in the past ten years, that I am hopeful. I am sure the altitude helped to clear your thoughts. lol

    • Thanks Debbie! I love your reflective thoughts too. I’ve learned a lot from you. What is it like in Nicaragua? Is the government respected?

      • Well, that’s a loaded question. The government is respected by those who work for the Sandinista party. But, lately with the grand canal project, many people are losing faith in the government and they feel that Daniel Ortega has sold the country to the Chinese.

      • I hear you. I’m amazed at how the Chinese have pretty much taken over Ethiopia. They are building all the new roads and highways. It is kind of scary in a way.

    • Thanks! Want to know what is funny? That blue door is to the public latrine! These little stone latrines with blue doors are all over the campsite but they blend in nicely. 🙂

  5. that is incredible… I once had the opportunity to go to Iceland and visited some amazing frozen waterfalls and took a trip up a glacier…They can be incredibly beautiful. The Bolivian Andes – now that’s my kind of adventure! (only problem is it’s really not my wife’s)

    • Thanks for the comment! I have been to Iceland as well and loved it but the waterfalls weren’t frozen as it was summer. That would be a sight to see! P.S. I go with my dad while my hubbie was home with the kids! 🙂

  6. Sounds like a wonderful challenge on many levels.
    I do have to throw in my political 2 cents. It does seem that in order to improve the lot of indigenes people a strong leader is required, strong enough to excise imperialist forces and give the people time and space to come into their power. After many generations of oppression this doesn’t happen over night. I do wish it didn’t have to be but it is. The trick of course is will that leader know and accept when it is time to start letting go? Nothing is perfect but I do know in my heart that Castro loves his people and right or wrong, his decisions were made from a place of love.

    • Thanks for the comment! interesting take too. I was in Cuba last year. I fell in love with the place yet the poverty and conditions of the people is hard. Everything is falling apart, there is no food in the shelves and only if you have money like a tourist can you truly enjoy the good restaurants. It made me really sad. Plus the lack of political freedom isn’t good either. I did meet many professionals who wanted to leave too. It is sad because it is such a beautiful place and culture yet a little extreme in terms of politics and standard of living is very difficult to comprehend. Most doctors are moonlights as taxi cab drivers as they make more money. Yes education is free but there are no jobs that pay enough to paint your house. A very fascinating albeit confusing place. I loved it though.

      • I know, the poverty was hard for me to deal with too. The sad thing is that the US embargo has contributed to the lack of many of the goods. Hopefully things will change but not so much that the Cuban people lose their culture.

      • Yes so true. I do not at all agree with our policies and the embargo. Terrible. Thanks for all the great dialogue. I too hope cuba remains the same culturally.

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