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South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Potosi
November 9th 2009
Published: November 20th 2009
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Hi,


It has been really long since I wrote an entry, so my kids decided it is my turn this time to tell the story of our adventures in Bolivia after returning from Rurenabaque (Pamapas and Amish). And if the kids say I should be doing somethin, I better do it...

After returning to La Paz from Rurenabaque, Tal decided he has to make some strength and courage test - he went biking on the 'Death Road'. It is a gravel road that stretches over ~60 km with many curves. It is very narrow and on one side there is the wall of the mountain and on the other side a steep downhil fall... It got its name from the fact that many cars and people have ended their life on this road from the many accidents. The road is many times to narrow to hold two cars crossing each other, and not always the manouvers to allow crossing ends up in the right way... Don't worry - he made it all in one piece with no major injuries.
The truth is, that now days it is a bit safer to go with the bikes on this road, as 2 years ago, a new road (not much better in width or conditions than the death road ) was created for the regular transportation, and the death road is now only open for bikers and their accompanying vehicles. The ride is done with special bikes and bikers get all the protecting gear (helmets, gloves etc.).

While Tal was risking his life on the death road, I spent a wonderful day with the kids - we have been to the movies (Omer and Nitzan saw 1 movie in 3D and Shachar and I saw another), then we went to ice cream palace (restaurant called Brosso) with an indoor playground.

From La Paz, we headed to Sucre and Potosi. On the way, we made a quick stop in Cochabamba, were we met memebers of Patricia's family (the lady that worked for us for almost 2 years in Barcelona), but there is not much more to write about this city.

Potosi main attraction is a tour into the silver mines. These are active mines, where miners still work daily. Young miners could be as young as 13 years old, and the eldest we have met was around 50 years
Walking in the mineWalking in the mineWalking in the mine

This is in 1st level, where we could still walk. In the lower levels we had to crawl on our knees...
old and has been working in the mines about 35 years. The miners work in hard conditions, it is very hot and humid in the mines, the air is poluted from the dast, from the fumes of the explosions of the dinamit used to mine etc. They work inside the mines for about 10 hours every day, and they do not eat - they only chew Coca leaves and drink soft drinks. Chewing the coca reduces the hunger and give them the strength to keep on working for such long period.
The tour into the mines, took us through the whole process - we got to be dressed like miners with the appropriate helmet and light, we stopped in the market to buy dinamit (and the needed accesories to blow it), coca leaves and soft drinks and then we went into the mines to see the miners working. Eventually, our guide also blew up a dinamite stick for us, outside the mine. The kids were thrilled from the tour. Shachar was declared as the youngest visitor they ever seen in the mine, especially in the lower levels of the mine (second and third level).

Sucre is the capital of Bolivia (though many confuse and believe that La Paz is the capital). It is a beautiful city with many colonial buildings. It has a very internaional atmosphere with many restaurants and pubs serving good food and drinks, and with plenty of foreigners. The main reason we made it to Sucre though, was the market in Tarabuco - which is an hour out from Potosi. We read it is one of the most colorful markets in South America, but, we found it slightly disappointing. There were indeed many villagers from the surrounding dressed with their traditional customs, but the market was not very big and the variety of products sold was limited - we even had hard time to find reasonable fruits to buy for breakfast. Yet, we ended the day with some purchases - two small wooden bowles and a miniature flute key holder for Omer.

From Sucre, we continued to Uyuni, to visit the Salar De Uyuni (which Omer will be telling you about). This bus ride, was one of the frustrating moments in this trip. It started with the fact that we could not find a night bus from Sucre to Uyuni as we wished and had to spend another night in Sucre waiting for the day bus next morning. Then, after a three hours ride with the bus, when we arrived again to Potosi, the bus driver stopped and just informed us, that due to some strikes on the road, we have to get off the bus, and wait in Potosi for the night bus to Uyuni (6 or 7 hours later). After a long negotiation with the driver and his assistant, we at least managed to get him to relocate us to a night bus which is "semi cama" - reclining chairs, and not a regular bus. But this did not end our misery, as the night bus to Uyuni also arrived in Uyuni in the middle of the night - 2 am! it was dam difficult to find a normal hostel for a reasonable price and we spent almost an hour searching for one... So as you can understand, not the whole trip is only fun, but we made it also through the hard moments. I must mention that the kids were great! they woke up upon arrival to Uyuni, and were silent and helpful through the hostel hunt, though they were tired, and cold and it took long.

At this point on our trip, I will leave you to wait for Omer's entry.

Hasta Pronto,

Lilach



To view all our photos from Potosi, Cochabamba, Sucre and La Paz, you may click on these links:

La Paz Gallery

Potosi gallery

Sucre & Tarabuco market

Photos from Cochabamba



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20th November 2009

Love those hats!!!
22nd November 2009

Well than Nitzan you must come to Florida one time ..lots of Gator tail here (tastes like chicken )!!! You must know Gatorade...that was created about 45 minutes away from where we live @the University of Florida for those crazy American Football players so they would stay hydrated!! Have fun ..Pam

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