The highest city in the world!!

Trip Start Sep 03, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Friday, November 25, 2005

Potosi sits t 4100m in a barren windswept plain, and is the highest city in the world. The town is here because of the Cerro Rico (Rich Mountain), the richest source of silver that the world had ever known. The silver rush started in 1545, and the estimated number of indigenous workers and African slaves that died during three centuries of colonial mining is as high as 9 million.
The mine still operates, mainly for tin and other minerals and you can visit there on a tour. After being kitted out in overalls, wellington boots and a hard hat we were taken up to the mine. Outside the mine in the market we were able to buy gifts for the miners, my bag included Coca Leaves, handmade cigarettes, biscuits and dynamite (not the usual contents of my shopping trolley in Sainsburys. At the entrance to one of the shafts we were introduced to a 76yr old lady breaking rocks to extract minerals and a 12yr old boy who was just starting his ´career´down the mine as that was the minimum age, it was heartbreaking to see the hardship that these people lived under. We spent a long time underground meeting the miners at work, there were no modern tools and explosive charges were set into the rock using hand tools. Inside we went to a shrine for the devil who the miners make offerings to in order to make them prosperous and keep them safe, they drink 96% proof alcohol as they do this. We were all able to touch the Devils Penis for luck!
Whole tour was very moving and was a real education into the difficult lives lived by these Bolivian people. We found out later that a miner had died in the mine of the day that we visited.
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