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Published: March 23rd 2012
The next town on the agenda in Bolivia was Potosi. It’s quite a popular place to come amongst travellers, firstly for the mining tours, and secondly because it is officially the highest town in the world at a staggering 4020 metres. For Donna and me, the mining tours were a no go from even before we left for Potosi as we had been told that the mines were tight, claustrophobic and potentially very dangerous, and with both of us suffering from a mild sense of claustrophobia, we decided this wasn’t a place for us. There were other reasons we steered clear from the mines, the main one being down to us finding it a tad unethical. These poor blokes (and sometimes young boys) have to go down these awful places on a daily basis, breathing in toxic fumes and working impossibly hard in order to scrape a living together and feed their families. Because of these conditions and the fumes, they generally have a very low life expectancy, and for us, it just seemed a little harsh to go down there taking pictures of these guys during their daily struggle. There was of course always the draw of being able to
light some real live dynamite and blow some of the mine up, however even this couldn’t change our minds, so we decided to leave it. Dave and Troy however were curious and wanted to see the mines, so we decided to let them get down and dirty in these tiny spaces and simply flick through their pictures and hear their point of view on the mines instead.
Before this happened though, we had a few hours to kill in the morning before the lads left for the tour, so we all decided to go to a museum which used to be the official mint building where they made all of Bolivia’s coins. The museum itself was awesome with some fantastic stuff on show, however our guide was the main source of entertainment as she was the most unenthusiastic, rude and abrupt guide of our trip so far! She was clearly in a hurry to be somewhere other than on our guided tour as she rushed through the whole museum, barking at us when we touched anything (there were no signs saying not to touch anything ) and literally looking down at us, laughing when we asked questions she felt
we should have knew the answers to….. horrible woman! Once the tour was finished, she simply walked off in a different direction without so much as a ‘Thanks for visiting the museum’ or anything. Needless to say, she bitched her way out of any potential tips, however due to her surliness; we all actually had a good laugh and some banter throughout the tour, and actually really enjoyed it despite her ‘mood’!
So, after the tour was over, Troy and Dave went off to see the mines whilst Donna and I ate cake and drank some coffee. After we had lazed around for a bit, we made our way back to the hostel only to be greeted by the lads, fresh from their mine tour. They were filthy! Their clothes were dusty and stained with sulphur and they looked like they had both run a marathon, they were exhausted! So, once we all had showers we decided a few pints down the pub was in order and off we went to get pissed. Whilst there, the guys filled us in on what we had missed from the day. Although they both really enjoyed the tour, they were both stunned
and shocked as to what the miners have to do on a daily basis. At one point, they had to shovel a few bags full of rubble into bags to emanate the jobs of the workers for 5 minutes or so in the 40 degree heat, and although being fairly fit young lads, they both admitted that it was a real struggle. They did manage to light some dynamite too down there as it was the weekend and not many workers were about, and I think Dave especially enjoyed this quite a lot!
The following day, we managed to somehow avoid hangovers and decided it would be a good idea to head towards the natural springs we had heard about that were apparently situated in the middle of a volcano crater. So, we made our way to the local bus station making sure all of our belongings were tucked away due to the craziness of the place and finally managed to jump on a local bus towards the springs. Once there, we were greeted with a huge walk up a mountain in order to get to the water. After 20 minutes or so, we got to what looked like
a large lake with several people dotted about the edges so, we had to assume we were there. The people round the edges all seemed fairly chilled out, sunbathing and intermittently dipping in and out the water, whilst others were working hard close by, doing their weekly clothes washing in a smaller thermal pool! The place was pretty cool though although not being quite what we had all imagined. Still, we tested the water and sure enough, it was lovely and warm, perfect for a few bombs, a touch of swimming and a long thoughtful chat about what our perfect careers would be if we had the choice alongside all other types of pointless nonsense. A great day had by all.
The next day, we had to say goodbye to Dave for a while as he needed to collect his motorbike that he had left in Uyuni whilst travelling about with us lot. So, after an emotional goodbye of a quick slap on the back and a ‘see you soon buddy’ Dave was off, leaving only Donna, Troy and myself left to fend for ourselves for the night before moving onto Sucre the next morning and meeting back up
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