Down the Mines

Trip Start Nov 01, 2006
Trip End Mar 26, 2007

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, November 25, 2006

At 4,200 metres Potosi is the highest city in the world and in the 17th century was bigger than Madrid and most other European cities. The reason for this was the silver mines of Cerro Rico (rich mountain) which at one time accounted for half the world's silver. We took a tour of them on our second day there which was an amazing experience. Our guide was an ex miner and was able to give us a real insight into how his former colleagues worked. Damn hard and in the most awful conditions is the answer. The mines are a labyrinth of tiny tunnels at different levels which at times you need to crawl through on your hands and knees. And the worst thing was the dust which got into your throat and up your nose. It's hard to imagine how people shovel rocks and push tolleys around down there. After a couple of hours we were only too glad to get out. Next time I'm pissed off in work I'm just going to stick a picture of this place up beside my desk and be thankful!

It was a sound enough group we did the tour with and that night we bumped into Anthony (another Irish lad born in England) and Petra who was from Brazil and had dinner with them. Ourselves and Anthony continued to a bar where some local band was playing. Some locals we met there brought us to a nightclub after so it was late enough when we bedded down. The next day, in a continuation of what has gone before, poor Bosco was not well and there was a quick puke out the bus window before we got on our way to Uyuni to visit the salt flats. On the way the bus driver managed to nearly kill us all when he went off the road at one stage and the bus lurched wildly from side to side. Luckily he regained contol and got it back on the dirt and after a quick stop to see if the bus was still in one piece we continued on. It's fair to say this is probably the worst road Ive ever had a long journey on being no more than a one lane gravel track which is tough going for six hour I can tell ya...
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