Freezing, in fact.
Shortly after the sun went down last night, we could see our breath in the tent. Despite wearing all my clothes, I woke up before midnight because I was uncomfortably chilled.
I decided to take advantage of the unwelcome alarm.
The sky was clear and frosted grass crunched beneath my feet while the full moon illuminated my bathroom excursion. Being in the southern hemisphere, the night sky is alien — there are constellations I did not grow up with and the waxing and waning of the moon is the mirror image of what I expect. For example, a waning moon looks like an open parenthesis “(” in the northern hemisphere while in the southern hemisphere it is a closed parenthesis “)”.
Shivering, on the walk back, I noticed the tent and bicycles were ghostly white, with the moonlight reflecting off the frost covering them.
I fell back asleep, but awoke again around 3 am, cold. This time sleep was impossible and I lay there, patiently waiting for the sun to de-thaw me.
Riding on the Altiplano looked and felt like another world. For several days we were bicycling between 4500m (14800 ft) and 4700m (15500 ft). The atmosphere was thin and we rarely encountered another human. It was quiet with only the sound of the wind and the wheels on the dirt and gravel. Even the water appeared unearthly, clear and creating hues that I never had in my box of 16 crayons.
We left the Altiplano and descended about 1800m (6000ft), where breathing became easier but the world was no less foreign. We entered the Stone Age. For thousands of years, people had been creating fences, buildings, pens and retaining walls of stone creating mountainside terraces for agriculture.
Another alien world we looked forward to exploring.