Friday 22 May

The plan today is to go to Coroico in Los Yungas to see some of the rain forest. John is much better and feeling well enough to go, but I am not sure about my own health. I exhausted myself yesterday—my cold was making a nuisance of itself—and after much agonising decide that I would be better off with a day’s rest. What sways my decision in the end is the thought of the excruciating pain I would experience in my ears if in their currently blocked state they failed to adjust to the change in altitude, a drop of some 3000 m from the top of the pass on the road from La Paz. I also feel that a day-trip to Coroico would not be sufficient to do justice to it, and vow to return in a future year to do it properly, and also to do the Choro Trek, which our various states of ill-health (and lack of time) have prevented us from doing this time around.

I spend a lazy morning in the Torino Café, reading and drinking coffee. On the way back to the hotel, I continue my search for an alpaca jumper, though without success. Most of the designs are a rather non-descript grey or brown. I try one which has an asking price of 115 bol, but am not sufficiently impressed to begin haggling.

Just as I approach our hotel, a smartly dressed man in a brown suit stops me, flashes a police ID card, and demands that I followed him. My initial reaction is puzzlement—I can not think of anything I have just done that he might take exception to. He sets off at a brisk pace, and I follow, lagging slightly. I remember reading something in the guide book about bogus police in La Paz. They use fake police IDs and usually demand that a tourist follows them into a taxi, ostensibly to go to the police station, but really so they can be robbed. He glances round to make sure I am following him and a moment after he has satisfied himself, I double back and lose myself in the crowd. It is all over very quickly. The hotel is just around the corner and I go straight inside. I realise that when he showed me his ID, he must have had his thumb covering the photograph. It is all rather unnerving and I stay for a while in the hotel room.

The other three arrive back at the hotel soon after 7 pm, having had a wonderful day, despite providing lunch for the local insect population. We had planned to take Marcia out for dinner, but she telephones to let us know that she too has gone down with the flu, probably, she says generously, from her sister whom she has been nursing.

We eat at El Batan, a fair walk away down the hill. The selection is very limited and it seems more difficult than usual making our order understood to the waiter. But the food is quite reasonable.