The highest city in the world

Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
Trip End Sep 05, 2007

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Potosi was our second stop in Bolivia, we took a night bus from La Paz which we both expected be horrendous and it turned out to be one of the best buses we have taken!
Although the bus was comfy we did not sleep so well and when we arrived at our chosen hostal we sat around waiting awhile for a room, as soon as it was ready we both crashed and woke at midday.
We attempted to visit the Cathedral and the church of San Lorenzo - both were closed so we spent our afternoon drinking coffee in a cheap cafe we found on the pedestrian mall.

Potosi was a nice city, but it was pretty quiet and aside from the mines there was not a huge amount to do and see. After not finding any shops selling the usual South American touristy things we wandered around the local market and through the narrow streets, which were also steep and at 4070metres it does leave you huffing and puffing!
We did eventually find the tourists shops, just randomely as we were taking a taxi to the bus terminal to book our bus tickets, out of the window I saw a sign saying Mercado Artesenal and lots of small shops - great stuff!

Our main reason for visiting Potosi was to take a tour to the mines. Potosi was once the richest city in Latin America, silver is the main reason for the mines which now mine a lot of other minerals too. The conditions down there are dreadful, the workers must buy all of their own equipment which should be provided for health and safety! The mines still call themselves a cooperative, but they are not at all. We were only down there for two hours and the dust and fumes were horrid, we cant imagine working down there for years as some miners do before they die of lung disease and other related illnesses.

Before we visited the mine itself we went to the miners market, where we bought gifts for the miners - dynamite (yep you can buy the whole shabang on the market no worries!), coca leaves, juice, water and ciggarettes along with an alcohol which was 96% - we tryed it - nail polish maybe?!!

We went to and looked out over Potosi from the mountain before we went underground, the views were fab up there. Then our crazy guide sorted the dynamite out, lit it and bang! We have never heard a sound so loud!

After the mine tour we went or lunch with a couple we met in our hostel. Lunch turned into dinner and dinner into drinks. A little worse for wear we all went back to the hostel around 1am to find that we had been locked out! We knocked and knocked, eventually the owner let us in, he looked pissed off and watched us until we went into our rooms to bed!! It was like being 10 again - so funny really!

This morning we were out of there early and took a smelly, cramped, hot bus through endless desert terrain on an unmade road past huge cactus to Tupiza (famous for the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid - all filmed here). We are now 3 hours from the Argentine border and our plan is to take the 4am bus and cross tomorrow into Argentina.


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