It’s a piece of knowledge that’s backed up with the formula. Water boils at a lower temperature the higher you climb. Tea on Everest is lukewarm, every expedition climber confirms this fact in any and every account. Only I hadn’t appreciated the significance on the Puno - that is until we ended back down on the Peruvian Pacific coast. I had got used to boiling water (with our electric boilie) for a coffee in a plastic cup. It kept it’s shape, I kept my fingers. We dropped 4,000 m or about 13,000 ft in one morning, a blast of freewheeling, a blaze of hot rims and twisting tyre walls. That evening I’m preparing the Forager’s fix of caffeine and nearly scald my fingers as the cup turns flaccid, wrinkles and crumples. Sure proof, an empirical scientific lesson.
Which now throws up a new line of investigation and a few new questions. What is the boiling point of water on the banks of Lake Titicaca? Will it kill protozoans like Giardiasis? And how do the locals cook rice? Answers: 88°C, don’t know and pressure cookers. So, tolerate cool coffee, use the ceramic water filter and resort to blind faith. Trusting that the rice you were served yesterday was properly handled, for it arrived at the table too fast to have been cooked from fresh. Apart from chicken, what does e-coli taste like?