Trip Start Feb 03, 2006
59Trip End May 09, 2006
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Highest town in the world, 4070 meters, 13,350 feet.
First, the trip from Uyuni to Potosi. It was a 6 ½ ride on a regional Bolivian bus, through the mountains, on a major roadway. Major roadway for Bolivia, which means unpaved, washboard bone-jarring, driving at full speed on winding hairpin turns, just wide enough for one vehicle, and fording several waterways. Going across one muddy wet gully, the bus stopped, and we were stuck for a while. A couple of helpers got out into the mud, and somehow they were able to rock the bus back and forth so that it could reverse and then start up again. Spinning tires, we made it to the other side. At another spot along the road the engine just stopped, and we began moving backwards down the steep road. A help hopped out, found some large rocks and through them behind the rear tires before we rolled down into the ravine
Woke up to beautiful blues skies, and then to news that all transportation workers in Bolivia were on strike. So our plans to going out into the country side today are cancelled. We were stranded in Potosi. I hope it is over tomorrow, because we are scheduled to go to Sucre for 3 nights, considered the most beautiful town in Bolivia.
Instead we basically just hung out in town today. This is a pretty small town, or at least the downtown area is. It is not the worst town I've been in, but it is far from the nicest. This was once a booming city, several hundred years ago, with huge deposits of silver found in the nearby hills
Apr 5 Potosi
The transportation strike is over, and we can now travel again. First off, a visit to the Potosi silver mine. The group of us were given helmets, lamps and vinyl pants and jackets (that will not be winning any fashion prizes). We also were to stop at a store at the mine to buy gifts for the miners we were going to meet. These gifts were dynamite, cigarettes, crackers and coco leaves. They have to buy their own dynamite in the mine, and they are paid so poorly, they often work without it, just breaking the rock with their hammers and picks. They chew on the coco leaves to help them with their breathing, it helps them to filter the dust and other particulates. The miners start their careers at age 12, as helpers for brothers or fathers. They just assist, they get no wages of their own. We met some 12 year olds in the mine, unbelievable
About mid-day we made our way through mountains, about 3 hours to Sucre. These roads were paved, and the trip felt so much safer.