The Highest City in Bolivia
We arrived to Potosi by bus and our guide told us that Potosi is not only the highest city in Bolivia, but also one of the highest cities in the world with 4,090m. The first thing we noticed was that Potosi is a lot nicer than Uyuni (and marginally cheaper.
Our group went to lunch at El Emperadillo and to make it easy, we all had the set menu of volcanic rock soup (really nice), salad, steak and strawberry cream desert. After lunch the group headed off to the church to see the view of the city, however we just went to get money out and explore the town square. We tried Banco Union SA and didn’t have any fees with our Citibank cards. Unfortunately the markets weren’t really open, so we headed back to the hostel to holiday plan and do bits and pieces.
That night we went to dinner at La Casona, which was nice and just down from the main square. The meat was really good and it was decently priced as well. We stayed for a few hours drinking before heading back to hotel.
Potosi Silver Mine
Potosi is a mining town so we were talked into the tour by our guide. The first stop of the tour is at the miners markets where you are expected to buy the miners small gifts for when you are walking around the mine.You could buy coca leaves, dynamite, 96% alcohol, tools, drinks and snacks, cigarettes and safety equipment. We bought coca leaves and cigarettes and it came to like $2-3AUD.
After the market we went and got kitted up to go into the mine. We weren’t provided face masks which was disappointing considering the focus on “safety”. We entered the mine to first see the creepy Andean Devil / “Uncle” they pray to and give offerings to be able to find minerals.
The tour guide told us there would be plenty of room to jump around however that wasn’t the case… we had to nearly crawl under partially cracked wooden poles for at least half of it. The final stop was the Jesus prayer area. One of the group noticed the fibres on the wall and asked if it was asbestos, casually followed by the response of the tour guide “yes, asbesto”.
At this point we all kind of freaked out and spent about another 5 minutes in the mine, we also gave all our gifts to one 20 year old miner (who’s been there since he was 13) and bailed straight away given we had no respiratory gear.
Definitely pissed we weren’t provided masks and not told by the tour guide that there was a fuck ton of asbestos in the mine.
That night we headed out and had dinner, followed by drinking back at the hostel. Ricky finished ½ of a 1L bottle of rum while I drank half a bottle of wine (it was enough to get me wasted in the altitude). One of the girls from our group also sat on a glass table and it smashed everywhere.
Drinking was a bad idea for Ricky, he had the runs the day before and so with drinking he only got 2 hours sleep after running to the toilet.
Additional Note: I had a major win one morning by getting a double Banana.