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Having shut my eyes at 1:50 a.m. I was rudely awakened at 5:00 by the telephone alarm call: I should have been in reception  at 5:00 to catch our bus back to the airport for a 7:00 a.m. flight to Lima!

Lan Chile only have a limited number of flights each week to Santa Cruz and today the only flight was with LAN Peru, via Lima. The Dutch company’s guide performed miracles holding up the plane so that we could leave Chile. 3:45 hours later we arrived in Lima.

I still had to sort out my boarding pass for the next leg, only to find out that this would take us to La Paz!
I tried in vain to check my emails and off we went again.

La Paz is one of the highest international airports in the world and we had just flown in from sea level. Fortunately it was just a 30 minute stop over during which we stayed on the plane. We were so close! But yesterday, even though we had already been in the air, we had been forced to turn round. Would we have more luck this time?

We did, and landed at around 16:00 at the small Viru Viru Airport, in Santa Cruz, 24 hours behind schedule. Would there be any one waiting for me?

Yes, John Carr was there!

Wiebe had arrived the previous day on schedule, there had been no storms and the party of Brendan Burke, his girlfriend Lucy, Chris Pugh from England and Wiebe Bosma had followed our original plan and had set off for Samaipata. John had stayed behind to see if I might turn up, and from the airport we headed straight to catch up with the others.

John had booked us all in to a nice set of cabanas, Landhaus, managed by a German cactus fan. Dinner was a welcome 4 blocks walk away, in a restaurant run by a nice Dutch couple, serving goulash and a nice dark beer (El Inca) as well as the more traditional lager at the same price in much larger bottles. Sadly Wiebe’s promise of a ‘broodje croquette en pannekoeken’ had been a wind up. The general trend was to have soup as a starter, but I had two El Incas instead, then joined in with lager for the main course.

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