Potosi - Happy Birthday?
Potosi Travel Blog› entry 36 of 93 › view all entries
Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear me-ee... well no, not really.
The good news was that the Potosi miners (clearly looking forward to seeing us), tired of blockading the roads in and out of the city and blowing stuff up, had struck some sort of deal and the roads were open. We were Potosi bound, still on a private coach and with another GAP group. The bad news was that I hadn't taken my travel sickness tablets in time and had a slight hangover.
The kind that you can easily deal with unless you have a rough 6-hour (6 Chad hours, keep in mind) coach journey to deal with. It quickly got worse. The road was completely unpaved and this being the Bolivian altiplano, had many windy and quite precarious mountain roads to deal with.
We arrived in Potosi at around 4.30pm, wiped-out and with a sore back from my statue-like position, and I went straight to bed.
No surprise then that as we were up early and enjoying breakfast (feeling much better), the late-nighters rolled in one by one looking distictly hungover. Perfect for todays activity, a trip to Potosi mines.
Potosi is the higest city of its size in the world, and the peak of the mountain that dominates the city view is 4,824m above sea level. Cerro de Potosi was hugely important for the Spanish during colonial times due to the huge amount of silver that was mined from it.
We stopped at a small shop on the way up the hill that supplied the miners with everything they needed. We bought some gifts for the miners consisting of dynamite (it's freely available to anyone) and fuses, coca leaves, biscuits and crackers.
Immediately you could see how the silver was mined in veins thoughout the mine and small wooden beam supported the remaining rock in an almost make-shift manner. There were huge holes off to the sides of the 'walkway' that led to even larger veins. There were two routes around the mine, the harder route and a slightly easier route. My adventurous girlfriend opted for the hard route and as I saw her disappearing down a very dark hole, I took the other trail (much to Em's amusement when we met up 20 minutes later and I was branded a wuss!) Every so often we would pass a miner and hand out some gifts.
Back in Potosi the boys went for lunch in a gringo restaurant and got to know some of the guys on the other GAP tour while Em shopping with the girls. After that it was another early night for me, still not 100 per cent. Onwards to Sucre in the morning.