Visiting the mines

Trip Start Sep 28, 2006
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35
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Trip End May 04, 2007


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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Monday, November 27, 2006

Visiting the mines of Potosi with Koala Tours was a lot harder than I had expected! I spent three hours deep inside the mines alongside actual miners working their shifts, not being able to breath between all the dust, gases and chemicals. We were inside a mountain, 4700 meters in elevation, crawling on all fours up steep passages and at times down very scary, deep holes, all hardly bigger than my body. Very freaky! I can't even imagine how these guys work every day for 35 years in there. I am still coughing up a storm. We had an amazing guide (all of our guides were either ex miners or current miners) and I had a good group too, all young travelers for once. We brought the miners gifts of coca leaves, sodas, and dynamite and even got to set off some dynamite ourselves. Our last stop was in the tiny chamber where they do that, and we hung out with and watched three miners as they prepared the dynamite for the day, which they usually set off around 5 pm. So even though I had to psych myself out of a few panic attacks (I am not normally claustrophobic but this was ridiculous), it was an awesome and extremely valuable experience. If nothing else, I will never again complain about my old desk job!

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