The world´s highest mine

Trip Start Feb 01, 2010
1
7
52
Trip End Jun 12, 2010


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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

So we had a nice lie in today but unfortunately missed the hotel breakfast so at 10 we wandered around town looking for ´desaunyo´and I got some orange juice and a jam and cheese toasty for 85p in a really nice cafe and Tito had some coffee, orange juice and toast and jam for just £1!
We then went down to the nearest tour agency and booked our tour of the mine for that afternoon, we walked back through the narrow 18th century streets in the glorious sunshine doing what is now our daily ritual: hiding from waterbombs and water pistols being thrown by 10 year old children at each other and sometimes at tourists! I got properly soaked even when I hid in the doorway of a Solicitor´s! It is their holidays and the Plazas of Bolivian cities are full of them soaking eachother which is not great for us!
At 12.30 we went for a 4 course meal for £1.30!
We gathered at the office and met an Irish guy who was also on the tour and the three of us got on the bus to the miners´market to buy coca leaves, alcohol, fizzy drinks and dynamite for the miners! We then went to get kitted out with our helmets, torches and gear and went with our guide to the mine entrance and stated walking. It was one hell of an experience, the tunnel stated at 7 feet tall and ended up at barely four feet. We then scrambled down a shaft to the second level down where we had to cling to the walls as our guide shouted ´CART, COMING THROUGH´. We descended further 400 metres down to the rock face where one man was working a nine hour day getting 10 inches into the rock face. If I moaned about working in my Italian restaurant in Sydney, I apologise. THis was incredible. The only positive was that it is a cooperative and the miners get a fair share of the profits from the mine even though ultimately their wages are set by the commodity prices by men in suites in London.
After chewing some coca and drinking a bit of alcohol with some of the miners we surfaced, climbing a steep shaft on our hands and knees in an environment of dust and stuffy heat. It was a relief to get outside but I will never forget that experience.
As a treat for us, our guide blew up a stick of dynamite for us, making us jump out of our skins.
Just got back to the hostel, showers and a tasty Bolivian meal tonight por favor!
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