Jul 02, 2006
Mar 02, 2007
! The two hours in the cramped, dusty mines was not something I enjoyed, nor would I do it again but something I am glad to have experienced. I must say the stick of dynamite we made into a bomb afterwards and the guide who handed it to me, with the fuse lit, and told me to stand for a few photos holding it and then run was another one of "those moments"
On comment on the bus from Potosi to Topizu - it was crap!!! Landslides stopping us for hours, 60 people of a 48 seater bus, windows that didnt open, a seat next to a fat, traditional Bolivian woman who hadnt washed for months (why does that happen to me on every bus???) and a woman on the floor who for some reason just loved to grab my ankle all night....
Fresh from a night bus "The Bearded Boys" were off to do a day at the Potosi Silver mines. Potosi, at one stage, during the 1600īs was the biggest city in the world and the mines were the largest producer of silver in the world for hundereds of years. Unforunately now there is bugger all silver left and the miners still work in pre-industrial revolution conditions in a mine that US experts have said will collapse if they continue. After a trip to the market to buy the miners presents of coca (leaves to chew and keep them going), smokes and sticks of dynamite, it was off to a refining plant to learn about the miners and their conditions. Basically these poor chaps work 8-10 hours a day, six days a week for about $300 ASD a month. Some of the miners are as young as 10 and the life expectancy of a miner who starts at 10 is around 28 - pretty poor by anyones standards. When they talked of the raw asbestos, arsnic and lead laying around in the mine there were a few nervous looks between the boys and all of us were grabbing for our dust masks!!