Deep down in the mines
Trip Start Mar 10, 2011
23Trip End Ongoing
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We were in a small group of 5 people, plus an English speaking guide. He took us to the mine in a 5-seater taxi, 2 of us having to squeeze in the front and one of us in the boot! On the way to the mine we stopped off at the miner's market where we had to buy gifts for the miners. The choice of gifts were dynamite, fruit juice, coca leaves, cigarettes and 96% proof alcohol! I bought them some dynamite and fruit juice. We got to try the alcohol
All geared up with helmet and flash light we entered the pitch black mines! We have to walk through most of it bent down as Bolivian people are a lot shorter then us. We walked along a small railway track, where the carts go in and out of the mines. Every now and then we would have to move out the way for a cart to go by. Our guide took us deep and deeper into the mine, we had to climb up and down rickety wooden ladders and through small pot holes, any one suffering claustrophobia would have no chance! I couldnīt believe how bad the health and safety conditions were, one false step and you could fall hundreds of meters to your death! We met up with some of the miners on their break, we sat and chewed coca leaves together. Our guide translated questions to them and some stupid girl in our group asked "What's the life expectancy of a miner?". Luckily the miners donīt understand English and our guide said "Iīll talk to you about this later... Not in front of the miners". Later on he told us that most of them donīt live past there forties as they get lung cancer or die in accidents. He also explained that they have a different mentality to non-miners
I left the mine feeling a bit sad, seeing how these poor people live. It makes you think twice, next time you buy a nice piece of jewelry...