The Air Up Here

I started noticing that I was gasping for air the day after I arrived in Bogota. I did not know what was wrong but then it hit me: you are way too high up in the sky.

Bogota is the third highest capital in the world, with Quito, Ecuador, second highest, and La Paz, Bolivia, the highest. In Bogota, I am standing more than 8,000 feet above sea level. I came here directly from Miami, which is below sea level. Such a dramatic change is bound to have an effect. So mornings I awake gasping for air. In the afternoons, just climbing a gentle slope is hard on the lungs. Even my Colombian friends say it affects them. So what’s a guy to do? Wait it out and get acclimated or go lower.

I’ve been in Bogota six days and I’m still finding breathing an issue. It may never go away. The air up here is just too thin and lacking in sufficient oxygen. You just have to deal with it. Walking slowly or just sitting and taking it easy is the way to go. Or just get off the mountain, as I intend to do this weekend. Off to the town of Neiva I go on Saturday to spend some time in the desert. There, it’s not only warmer, the air has all the oxygen we need. I will be returning to Bogota for a brief spell, then north to the coast. But Quito and La Paz, here I come afterward. If I’m having this much trouble in the third highest capital in the world, I hope I am acclimated well enough by the time I get to the highest. I will heed suggestions and take the anti-altitude sickness pills. After all, better safe than sorry.

Categories: Rants and Raves | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Air Up Here

  1. Steve Kamin

    While in Cusco Peru with Sherri on our honeymoon, I had some trouble AMS and the local hostel owner suggested chewing coco leaves. It seemed to help. Careful asking for coco leaves in Columbia! Also come in the form of tea bags.

  2. Beth W

    Mike, I remember going to Mexico City when I was two months pregnant. It never bothered me before (the altitude there), but when pregnant it was awful. I slept almost the whole time; my son’s father’s family (native Mexicans) were calling me “Sleeping Beauty.” Beth

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