The scenery from the taxi on the ride from Sucre to Potosi was gorgeous. We climbed high up into some arid hills then got to the plateau with green farming land. Beautiful. After we arrived in Potosi, we did a walking tour of the hilly old town. We were now at a higher altitude, 4090m, so walking around seemed a bit tougher than usual. I felt a tiny bit light headed. Potosi is one of the highest cities in the world. We went to a fantastically decked out restaurant, built in an unused refinery building. l accidentally left my prescription Arnette sunglasses there, which now belong to someone who walks extremely funny.
Sally opted out of the mine tour, having affects from the altitude so only Dean and I wanted to do it. We first were taken to the Minerīs Market where we bought gifts for the miners and had our photos taken with dynamite and detonator and mind altering substances, namely pure alcohol and cocoa leaves
. I purchased some of the cocoa leaves for myself, in case I get altitude sickness. They are illegal in Australia. Then we got kitted up with delightful protective clothing, hardhat and gumboots. The mine entrance was simple, just walk in along the cart tracks. Not very far in we got to some teenage miners shovelling loose rock by hand into a cart. We chatted with the suprvisor (well our guide did for us) and we found out about their lifestyle and about the silver, tin and lead that they were mining for. We happened to be there on a Friday, which means they are allowed to drink alcohol! So Dean shared some beer with the boss. As we were chatting, the miner next to me was picking at the wall and then in all caved in and loose rock and big rocks rolled to our feet. I SHIT MYSELF! I was so ready to bolt, but apparently, that was normal. Then we walked a bit further and the guide lead us down this hole that had a rope down it. We were supposed to go down there! For the second time today, as I lowered myself down the steep slope and hanging on to the rope I SHIT MYSELF! We visited the minerīs God, an ugly devillish looking dude with horns, which apparently used to have a large penis, but it was broken off. We donated some of the coffee liqueur and cocoa leaves to this Mining God thing and then drank some of it ourselves. Blah blah blah, the guide talked a lot about the miners superstitions but I was too worried about how to get out of this hole to listen. Then I got back up out of that hole OK, of course, and we walked deeper into the mine. We met up with another miner working on his own and we sat and chatted with him for ages. I think I was feeling a bit claustraphobicbecause I just wanted to get out! On the way out we heard explosions, so again, I SHIT MYSELF! It felt good to get out but it was also a good experience to go into that mountain and check out the main local industry and see how basic their mining practices are. I had an altitude headache by then.
We all opted for the optional extra trip to Uyuni rather than stay in Potosi. So Karina organised an overnight bus outta there.