Experiencing the hard life of a silver miner in Potosí

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A new challenge was on when we planned out our trip to Potosí. We wanted to take an overnight bus from Villazón, the first town on the Bolivian side when coming from Humahuaca, spend a day in Potosí and take another overnight bus from there to La Paz. Planned – done – succeeded… even if quite exhausted.
Potosí is the world’s highest located city. Once upon a time it was also South America’s richest and one of the world’s biggest cities, as during the Spanish colonial times, silver was found in abundance there. Now the silver reserves have almost completely been exploited, but as for now, still around 15.000 people are working in the network of mines spanning the inside of Cerro Rico, the mountain overlooking Potosí.
Nowadays, it is also possible to visit the mines. We had been told that it would be tough, but seeing and at least slightly experiencing the conditions under which the miners, who often are no older than 15, work here, day after day, was still shocking. However this day trip helped to put things in perspective: we will probably think twice next time before complaining about uni, a job, or whatever else.
After all these impressions in Potosí and two nights in a bus, we are now happily knocked out in our hotel room in La Paz, recharging all our energy for the most likely “highest” challenge of all our trip: the hike up Mount Huyana Potosí*.

When in Potosí
Where to eat & drink: Mercado Central – here you can get breakfast at one of the little snack stands in case you arrive as early as us, before anything else opens.
What to do: Book a tour to see the mines. We did ours with Koala Tours and had a good experience.
Where to sleep: We actually don’t know, we opted for the bus, but there sure are some nice hostels.

* Due to the time difference between writing and posting we can already anounce our successful ascend. Story to come!

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