Fried Chicken and silver mines

Potosi Travel Blog

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Potosi (Silver mines): Steve-o does not normally look this camp.

KERRY - After the excitment and wonder of the salt flats it was time for a reality check in Potosi. Potosi is a small town in the middle of Bolivia, which is quite quiet with a staple diet of fried chicken and chips. On every corner they sell this, hence why it was hard to find nice restaurants to eat in! We drove back to this town after our trip to Uyuni for a free day where we could visit the silver mine that the town is famous for.

What an experience this was. We were picked up by our tour guide and firstly drove to the office to pick up our outfits - very attractive bright yellow boiler suits! We then visited the miners market to buy gifts for  the miners - alcohol that was 94% proof and cigarettes.

Potosi (Silver mines): Ginger and dangerous.
Not really my idea of gifts especially when the miners only live to an age of about 35, due to the fumes they breath in when working in the mines!

We also bought some dynamite to see how powerful it was. A set of dynamite and a fuse cost all of a pound!! We took this to the entrance of the mine where our guide collected up all the sticks of dynamite and lit them for us to watch the expolsion. We had bought a cuddly toy to blow up to see the effects and my god it was so loud! Watching our guide mould the dynamite was actually pretty scary in itself - it looked like plasctecine!

Next we actaully entered the mine. At first the walk was not so bad, we had to crouch low to walk through the tunnels and the ground was quite wet, but we could cope with that. But as we walked deeper into the mine, we all started to feel a bit aprehensive. We had to crawl through some very small tunnels, and also had to wear our face masks to ensure that we did not breath in too much dust.

Potosi (Silver mines): "Don´t come to work drunk".... wise words...
It also started to get very hot and the smell of the metal and the dust was not nice at all. We eventually came accross some miners, who we gave our presnets to and watched working. Some of our group helped the miners shovel the rocks into a large container that was pulled up to the level above. This was what the miners did all day for 10-12 hours and i have to admit that i was very sad to think that this was their life. The pay is only 120 dollars a month, which is considered a very good wage for Bolivia. 

We were able to go further into the mine and half of our group did, but i was at the my limit and so asked if i could leave, along with the rest of our group. The walk along the tunnel to get our seemed to take forever and we were all so happy to see daylight approach. It was an interesting experience and i am glad that i visited the mine, but i have to say i would not want to repeat it! After an hour and a half in the mine i felt very ill and exhausted and i had not even been working!

It was a definite reality check, and makes you appreciate any job that you have in the UK no matter how bad or boring! 

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Potosi
photo by: Biedjee