Arriving by bus in Potosi (the highest city in the world at 4200m) at 2a.m. the first thing I could see was the well lit silver mining mountain where 32 different cooperatives mining tonnes of silver everyday.
As promised, here is a little more explanation of my unfortunate booking experience. They changed the bus on me and had me sitting in the 5 sitter at the very back of the bus with all the locals and their many agricultural packages. Fortunately there was a empty sit where I moved. At the hostel the guy insisted my name should be Eva, until I looked at his paper and it said Eva Wanda. Finally I got my room. It’s so funny they one time I didn’t just fly by the sit of my pants was the most unorganized. Interesting.
The next day was an early rise for a mine tour. There is a long history about these mines and the death associated with them and it is pretty sad. As the mines stand now they act as cooperatives that people are voted into and allowed to work. Only have 6 deaths that year. Pretty good odds once you see how they are built.
Many have been working 10-20 years in the mine. Unimaginable, when after walking around in them for 20 minutes I was willing the tour to end, knowing full that I had another 2 hours. It is exactly as you would imagine, dark, cold at times, hot and stifling at other, dusty. By the end of the tour and probably before you appreciate your job, whatever it may be. And however you may have complained about it before.
As gifts to the miners we brought soda pop and coca leaves in exchange for trying out there shovels and trespassing on their livelihood.
What was most interesting was to hear that our tour guide had worked in the mines for one year at the age of 12. Now the minimum is 14 years old. He had to work because his mother needed money.
As we were finishing the tour he said he really liked my name and he would name his first child that, assuming it was a girl. That wasn’t the first time I’d heard that. I Bolivia will see an increase in babies named Wanda in the next couple of years.
After the tour I explored the city a little and although small is really quite endearing. I was a little sorry to rush off to Sucre. But to Sucre I go.