Sunday, February 24, 2008

the two-and-a-half mile high club ...

It's been a while since the last update, so I'll let you know what we've been up to.

Our next stop was the worlds highest city of Potosi, a mere 4060m above sea level - the lack of oxygen had us gasping for breath just walking to the taxi rank at the bus station with our luggage.

In the days when much of South America belonged to Spain, Potosi's silver mine reputedly bankrolled their empire for almost two hundred years. Although much of the silver reserves are now exhausted the cities economy still thrives on mining, exploiting the areas rich mineral deposits.

Our main reason for coming here was to take a trip down a working mine. It promised medieval conditions - dust, intolerable heat, toxic gases, back breaking tunnels and climbing down crude stone shafts running with water in the pitch black. Not only that, but the opportunity to blow something up with dynamite sounded very cool indeed.

Talking over breakfast with some of the residents of our hostel about our intended trip we started hearing ominous phrases like "horrible", "couldn't breathe" and "glad to get out of there". It brought us swiftly to the conclusion that it probably wasn't going to a fun day out, so we decided to pass on it.

So, although Potosi is a pleasant enough city, we were left without much else to detain us so we decided to skip town a day earlier than planned to head for La Paz.

Our visit wasn't completely without reward though. Just before we left I noticed a surprising sight in the main plaza.

Looks like my old employer has started an exciting new venture in Bolivia ...