A&B Central and South America 2012 travel blog


Potosi

Apparently the highest city in the world and once as busy and large as paris due to thriving silver and mineral mines this world heritage site is more than a little shabby but really charming. Colonial buildings are surrounded by the smaller more humble mining communities and up in the hills the air is filled with the acrid smoke from the refineries. 

The only real draw here is the mine tour. Officially unofficial and nothing touristy about it. Off duty miners take you into the mines with no more guarantee of safety than they have for themselves. The mines are completely unsubsidised, and have no safety requirements. 

Obligatory ' gifts' are purchased for the miners including dynamite, coca leaves and Bolivian whisky ( a 96% proof clear concoction looking and tasting like paint stripper and sold in clear plastic bottles like lighter fluid) these are the miners staples underground. ( as opposed to safety equipment and actual nourishment)

To truly get an idea of the mines check out 'the devils miner ' film. Needless to say we won't be rerunning the fun anytime soon. As the parents are reading I can state that we of course did not...... Follow a drunk man underground, move quickly through caved in areas, drink Bolivian whisky and worship the devil, shovel ammonium nitrate out of bags into newspaper tubes with our bare hands and tap (gently) to make dynamite or stand in a tight space next to some drillers throwing whisky at the walls as an 'offering' to avoid a cave in wearing a tshirt for a face mask......

I'm no mining expert but I'm pretty sure all the money spent on Bolivian  whisky, coca leaves and llama blood to get el tio the devil to keep them safe might be be better spent on a hard hat, face mask and a Cornish pastie. The odd support strut wouldn't go amiss either. But what do I know. 

Andrew was lucky to get out alive as he now bears an uncanny resemblance to a ' conquistador' 

Mine bogies are even worse than Tube bogies and last for days. 

Seriously reluctant to be underground anytime soon so looking forward to heading to uyuni where we head off on the three day salt flat and desert tour. 

Big dog breakdown

Potosi: wished we had the stomach to accept the miners invite to the 'miners bar'' ( we'd probably still be there- they drink beer to stay sober)



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