From La Paz, we moved to Potosi, which is a UNESCO world-heritage listed city, known for its mining industry. Back in colonial times, Potosi was one of the biggest and richest cities in the world thanks to the vast deposits of silver found in the Cerro Rico mountain. The city has retained a lot of its charm and beauty and is a really nice place to spend a day or two in.
The main reason many people come to Potosi though is to visit one of the mines in Cerro Rico, which are still working as cooperatives despite the fact that the silver deposits have been severely depleted. About 12,000 miners who work there are now looking for other minerals, mainly copper and tin and in reality they are happy with whatever they can get. The mines are very deep, with many levels down and can get extremely hot, with temperatures reaching 45C in some places, all of this at over 4000m above the sea level. It’s a very tough job and some miners start working as early as 15 or 16 which is illegal.
Potosi turned out to be quite unlucky for us. Firstly, one of our cameras got stolen at the bus station and we lost some of the best pictures from the first half of the trip It must have been just seconds and we never left our bags, still we didn’t see how it happened – these guys must be true pros… Second, we both caught some kind of annoying cold virus that we’ve been fighting with for the last few days. Third, there was some kind of political protest and they were blocking the roads around Potosi on the day we wanted to leave so that we got stuck for another 12 hours in the city. But that’s all a part of the adventure isn’t it ?
From Potosi we moved further south to Tupiza, a lovely town surrounded by spectacular, colourful rock formations. Here we spent two lovely days recovering and just chilling out. The only activity we did was a half day od horse riding, which was truly fantastic and the scenery was spectacular.
Now, we’re getting ready for a four-day trip to the salar of Uyuni, and really looking forward to it as this should be one of the highlights of the whole trip – an update will follow shortly.