Silver Mines and cobbled streets

Trip Start Apr 21, 2005
Trip End Oct 19, 2005

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, August 7, 2005

We then headed for Potosi, famous for its silver mines. Apparently its also the highest city in the world.

we went on a mine tour, but first stopped off at the minerīs market, to buy things biscuits, drinks, coca leaves and dynamite for the miners. Anyone can buy dynamite here (even children) and one stick costs about 75p! Our guide blew some up outside the mine, and then we headed into earth in our fetching green overalls and head torches.

8 million miners died in the silver mines at Potosi, which is the same as Boliviaīs current population. All the work done there is by hand, using a hammer and chisel and dynamtite. Most miners die by 45 due to the toxic gases, so very few smoke ass their lives are short enough already. Most men start mining around 16 years old, but boys as young as 11 might go and join their fathers.

There are lots of beliefs to do with Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Uncle Tius
(an evil god I think!) e.g. no music is allowed down the mine as it will make Tius dance the music away, and no women can work in the mine as Mother Earth will get jealous. The miners make statues of Uncle Tius and bring him coca cigarettes, coca leaves and 96% alcohol, which they also drink, in the hope of getting silver which is more than 90% pure, like the alcohol.
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