The one news story on coca ( well played , Evo Morales ) that will be remembered this year : the Pope “combated altitude sickness” on his visit to Bolivia by drinking coca tea.
The missing story , and context is found in his itinerary : the Pope had a textbook preparation for flying in to El Alto/La Paz by first going to Quito @ 2800 meters , and staying overnight . He spent less than four hours in La Paz the next day before flying out to Santa Cruz … altitude 416 meters.
To be expected , the usual media mix up on the altitude of La Paz and El Alto airport : the airport , and only the airport , is at 4000+ meters . The low , and posh , end of La Paz is nearly a thousand meters lower. Town center is 3600-ish. The common claim of the worlds highest airport is also off the mark : there are now five commercial airports at at 4000+ meters , and El Alto is the lowest. Yading @ 4411 meters in China is the highest , nearly four hundred meters higher than El Alto . It will be the second highest after the completion of Nakchu airport.