Gunpowder and Coca leaves......

Trip Start Dec 05, 2004
Trip End May 04, 2005

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, January 16, 2005

Potosi was a a ramshackle mining town- the only place in the world where you could legally buy gunpowder in the markets and shops! We took an amazing tour of the silver mines... the mines are now all owned co-operativily and some of the miners who had bought up several of these were earning a good wage...unfortunately most of the workers who were digging at the higher levels (the most lucrative seams were also the most dangerous at 15 levels down and 2000 metres!) were earning only around $150 per month and had a life expectancy of 10 years!
We bought our gifts of coca leaves, gunpowder, cigs and detonaters for the miners and made our way down after togging ourselves up in the appropriate gear! The conditions in the mines were grim and there was at least one fatality per month amongst the miners which seemed to be acceptable!! We went down four levels at which point the temperature was rising steeply and the air was acrid with sulphur fumes... how they coped at lower levels is a mystery!
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