A Travellerspoint blog

Bolivia - Potosi

13 °C

Potosi, one of the highest towns in the world sitting at over 4,000m. We felt the altitude on our first walk uphill, arriving at our hostel gasping for air and dizzy, with tingly fingers as we got used to the low levels of oxygen!

Potosi, winding narrow streets, old buildings and monasteries from the 16th century, was once the richest town in South America due to a big silver mine. Now the silver is mostly gone but people still mine there looking for other minerals. 12,000 men, no organisation, no regulations, no safety, no lights, no ladders, all crawling, 8 levels and it gets to 45 degrees celcius in the deeper areas.

These guys use their own gear, picks, dynamite (which you can buy on the street), and go for it. They chew cocoa leaves, drink 96% alcohol and smoke cigarettes. It´s infested with aesbestos and other chemicals and even kids work there. Most only live for 10-20 years after they start working in the mines. People die from accidents constantly. Gobsmacking.

You can do tours of the mine and see first hand the conditions these men and children work under, but we chose not to due to the dangerous conditions. The movie The Devils Miner is a must watch which is a documentary that follows a child working in the mines in Potosi.

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Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in Bolivia

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