Into the Mouth of Hell
Trip Start May 10, 2010
71Trip End Apr 20, 2011
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For many, the main reason for being in Potosí is to visit the mines and meeting and seeing the miners working in medieval conditions.
A mining tour starts with a visit to the miners market. This is where tourists buy gifts for the miners: a dynamite kit (3 USD), a bag of coca leafs (0.70 USD), a 96% alcoholic spirit (2 USD), ... Everything is available without any limits or restrictions
Then it's time for the hard part of the tour - going into the mines: entering the mines at +4,000m, crouching through narrow tunnels, temperature rising up to 40 ºC, breathing dusty air and noxious gases and seeing men - and even children - working in appalling conditions. A visit to the mines of Potosí is not for the faint-hearted.
Visitors to the mines must sign a paper accepting all risks of injury or death and waiving all responsibility. This is the third time while being in Bolivia that I need to sign such a waiver - anything is possible in crazy coca leaf country!