As far as memorable departures go, leaving La Paz by air is as dramatic as any in the world. We were at the airport early, I mean before 3am, to check in and deal with immigration. We’d overstayed our residency visa by several days and although people more experienced at this sort of thing had told us not to worry, we were expecting trouble. In the end we were allowed to leave with a stern ticking-off and a US$45 fine – each.
After sitting around for an eternity in the world’s smallest international departures lounge, we finally boarded our American Airlines flight to Miami and our connection to London. The real joy of this flight all happens minutes after take off: the sun had just risen and from the window of the plane you get a birds-eye-view of the vast, snow-capped Andean peaks of the Cordillera Real. Its a mesmerising sight and a fitting farewell to a mesmerising country.
If you want to know how huge these mountains really are, I give you the picture below…there is a plane in the picture, I promise.
A little over thirty hours later we arrived in London. There was no time for jet lag – we had things to do and people to see. Three days in London flew past in a whirlwind of lunches and drinks with friends and family (very expensive lunches and drinks after living in Bolivia). Before you could say, “How much is a pint a Guinness?” in a tone of utter surprise, we were off again for a brief stop in Great Malvern.
A couple of days later I finally departed for the frozen wastes of the north – summer doesn’t always make an appearance in this part of the world and the sun was making very little effort to shine the day I arrived.
Living in London I always knew I was back in my part of north west England when I saw Farleton Knott, a wedged-shaped hill that is a local landmark letting you know you’re back in the county of Cumbria. The village where my family lives nestles in the Knott’s shadow, and there is always something welcoming in its unusual shape.
On a good day, and in good weather, from the top of Farleton Knott it is possible to see for miles: to the west the Isle of Man is visible across the Irish Sea; to the north the mountains of the Lake District; and to the east Ingleborough, the highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales. This time, glimpsed from the train window, the sight of Farleton Knott was like the full stop at the end of our adventure to Bolivia.
Although I would have loved to have been in Latin America still, after fourteen months away I was happy to see this old acquaintance again, and immediately decided I needed to get my walking boots out of the bottom of my bag.