Potosi is the highest city in the world at a little over 4000m. The route there took us through beautiful mountain landscapes which in parts were notably greener with huge cacti (like in cowboy cartoons) and some trees, although it was mostly scrub land! We even passed some marshy land that was lush with green grass and had cows on it - the first I have seen for a while! Mind you, it wasn't that green as there were sand dunes behind!
In the afternoon 4 of us went on a tour of the mine which still operates, even though there is very little silver there, there are many other minerals such as lead, zinc and tin. We had been warned that the conditions were pretty bad, but it was worse than I had imagined!
|Going down the tunnel|
|Preparing to go in|
|With El Tio|
In colonial times, the Spanish used the indigenous peoples to work in the mines as slaves. T ensure they worked hard they taught them about the devil and put a statue of the devil in the mine to remind them to work hard. The peole, however, worked out that the devil was the enemy of Catholics and so they came to see him as a friend believing that he would determine whether they would make good finds. Apparently, they miners still give gifts to El Tio (uncle) every Friday to ensure their next week is successful!
The miners also worship Pachu Mama - mother earth who owns the mine and looks after their health; and then of course, they worship God and Jesus
Miner at work
|Whew - made it out!|
Entrance to the mine behind us!
|Walking through the road block|
|Women coming to the demonstration|
|Walking through the demonstrators|
|View from Killi Killi|
|Main government building|
|Watching the world go by|