Potosi, Bolivia

bolivia all 274Here you go fact fans….Potosi happens to be the World’s highest City (4070m) and is (in) famous for its Silver mines.

To paraphrase Lonely Planet:  “The whole mountainside village still revolves around this industry, despite its dark history. Millions of  deaths occurred from medieval safety practices and appalling conditions. Today around 15,ooo miners continue to work here for 100 Bolivianos a day (£10), and die of Silicosis pneumonia within 10 years of entering the mines, which they do from as young as 15.  A visit to the cooperative mines is shocking and dangerous and is not an easy decision.”

Tours include donning a sexy hard hat, lamp and yellow overalls and taking a trip to a local market. Here you buy gifts for the miners including coca leaves – which they use to starve off hunger for their 14+ hour shifts. Also 96% proof alcohol – which I would normally say isn’t the safest thing to ply to workers operating machinary but having seen what they have to face, you would. Oh and dynamite…..

Which is how I find myself scrambling through miles of claustrophobia inducing underground shafts on a Saturday afternoon, watching a crazy lady light the above mentioned purchased stick of dynamite in a cave only meters wide.

What’s more, she guestimates the fuse as 4 mins, then casually (in Spanish) tells us to run and take cover. Her math is not too hot, as it blasts under 2 mins later. The force of it actually throws Jen and I to the ground. We have the whole thing captured on video, which I would upload apart from it’s just me screaming hysterically for 3 mins.

Harrowing and slightly voyeuristic yes, but at the same time interesting and humbling. I have never been more grateful to breath fresh air and see blue sky.

An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

Blasts From The Past…

May 2011

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