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A cup of hot coca tea from the thermo flask tastes good, my water bottle is frozen and I am greatful for the content in my thermos. My feet are heavy and my breathing even heavier. In the dark I can only see the light of head torches, all the stars far above and all the city lights far below. It is a very early morning in Bolivia and I am trying to climb the Huyana Potosi mountain, with crampons on my feet and ice axe in hand. My altitude headache is easing a bit and I continue to climb. Eventually the sun goes up in the sky and I go up to the summit. I am terribly tired, but it feels terrific to reach new heights.

Several cups of tea later, I am cycling south on the high plateau with evening winds almost as cold as on the mountain. Here in the region of Oruro a boy from the indigenous population was once born and became the president of the entire population. Evo Morales is the former coca-farmer that is now defending these national plants internationally. In a global perspective the coca leaves are narcotics, in a local perspective they are tradition. And as I look down at the green leaves that are floating around in my tea cup, they look very different from the white cocaine powder that are abused in North America and Europe.

After a few more cups I have reached the city of Potosi, where I go deep down the colonial mine where the search for silver still continues. The miners are working hard since a young age and will probably not reach an old age. Their cheeks are filled with coca leaves to ease their hunger, fatigue and pain. It is tough work in a tough climate. The workers here are presumably as grateful to be able to chew coca leaves in the mine as I was to drink coca tea on the mountain. I might have reached 6088 meters due to the green tea that helps me to deal with the altitude. Cocaine on the other hand, is of no interest to neither me nor most Bolivians.




  1. Sam Monday, August 29, 2011, at 5:22 PM

    Wow! Amazing Hanna – congratulations!! Aconcagua next?! Continue to enjoy your blog… Suerte!

  2. JIM Saturday, September 3, 2011, at 10:57 AM

    Hello Hanna,
    We hope that you have a great time in Salar de Uyuni and look forward to see your next blog.
    Best regards

  3. hanna Sunday, September 11, 2011, at 10:07 PM

    Cheers Sam, and Suerte to you too. Hopefully I will catch up with you again somewhere.

    Thank you JIM, Salar de Uyuni was beautiful and so was the rest of Bolivia. You can look at her through this window until the next blog post.

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