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Published: June 30th 2015
Today we started the Silver Mine tour at 9am, after a good breakfast of scrambled eggs and cereal.
We had the opportunity to witness working conditions in one of the cooperative silver and zinc mines, the conditions are among the most grueling imaginable. We had plenty of guide books telling travellers not to underestimate the dangers involved in going into the mines and to consider the voyeuristic factor involved in seeing other people’s suffering. It definitely was at our own risks, and there were plenty of dangers with the stability of the mines, which had me terrified during most of the tour. Although we didn’t feel like we were prying on the workers, the miners are proud of their work in such tough conditions and generally happy for visitors to observe their toil. We were glad we bought them gifts of coca leaves and pop. The company we went with ‘Big Deal Mine Tours’ give approximately £1 from each of our £15 fee to the miners as a Christmas bonus too. The best tour guides tend to be ex-miners, like ‘Big Deal’, who know the conditions and are friendly with the men at
The mine visit wasn’t easy and the low ceilings and steep, muddy passageways was hard work for the 2 hours (3-4km) we were down there, particularly with the already high altitude, then plus the exposure to noxious chemicals and gases, including silica dust (the cause of silicosis), arsenic gas and acetylene vapors, as well as asbestos deposits.
Our tours today begin with a visit to the miners’ market, where miners stock up on acetylene rocks, dynamite, cigarettes and other essentials. In the past, gifts weren’t expected, but with the growing number of tourists, it is now expected to pay £1 for a few gifts, we got to try there 96 percent proof alcohol drink they have on Friday's to celebrate and honour the mine god Dios, Neil said it was nice and warmed up your cockles I thought it was horrendous!!! . The tour then visited an Ingenio (how they filter the minerals), before heading up to the 3-floor mine.
Neil and I were glad to be out of it by the end, it was hot and had very limited air. It was an astonishing insight to see the conditions
some people choose to work in! They work in such cramped areas with no air filtration and is so hard to navigate let alone walk!!
After the tour we went for lunch before heading back to the hostel to have a much needed shower and chill out. We managed to Skype my mum at my brother’s house and find out how here holiday went. (Amazing she said)
In the evening we went out for dinner and found a small bistro, we got chatting with another English guy, so we sat with him eat dinner together and talked about travelling.
After saying our goodbyes we headed back to the hostel to watch and film and to sleep as we are shattered from the tour today!!
Love N&V X
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