Eye Opening, Mind Blowing, Life Changing
Trip Start Jul 19, 2010
26Trip End Aug 13, 2010
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This private bus was amazing it even had a leg rest thing which we pulled out from underneath us, with blankets too- ideal for our 6 hour journey to Potosi. Furthermore, we each had two seats to ourselves and I read my book/listened to my iPod, whilst enjoying my left over pizza slices for lunch. We arrived at Potosi at around 3 and I had obviously become used to the altitude as it did not affect me at all this time, and I signed up for the mine tour which was at 4 (some chose not to join us.)
13 of us then took an extremely squished minibus, what else to expect in Bolivia, through Potosi and stopped off at the miners market to buy them gifts eg dynamite, cigarettes, 96% alcohol, biscuits and coco leaves which they keep in their mouths, numbing it so that they don't feel the hunger. This was a sad sign of things to come in this day which proved to be one of the most emotional days of my trip.
We then got kitted out in yellow jump suits, boots and a smelly helmet
We then entered the mine- it was MAD. Mental. The entrance was less than half the size of me, and some parts of the mines were unbelievably small so we had to actually crawl through, really bad if you get claustrophobic, I must admit I was a little panicky at sometimes. In contrast, in other parts of the mine you would just be cautiously walking through and then suddenly there were these random, massive, deep holes surrounding you... my legs were shaking the entire time- it was terrifying! We could hear explosions from inside the mines which was completely unnerving, especially when little rocks fell on our heads. What have I put myself in for?! I was just waiting for a big fat rock to fall down, trapping us forever...
One accident every day. 8 million deaths
We came across a lot of miners and gave them gifts which we bought in the miners market. The Coco leaves which they suck on constantly in their mouths, numbing their hunger, is also used to overcome altitude sickness. I tried it and it was disgusting! However, they suck on this, and drink the 96% alcohol to survive these appalling conditions in the mines, its a way of life, and its what they have to do to live. It was so sad speaking to the miners through our guide, as the majority were unbelievably shy and we found out that they can start working and risking their lives at 12 years old, and once they start they only have 15 years left to live. 15 years left to live. Unbelievable. This is due to the really bad conditions down in the mines, and the dust etc :(
Carrying on our journey through the mines, I was at the front of the group and then suddenly my head torch shone on the scariest thing I have ever seen
We were underground for over an hour, and returned safe and sound to the hotel for 7. We walked to a posh restaurant and I had chicken and chips- much needed.
What a day. What an experience.