Life is what's happening while you're busy making other plans

13 février 2010

Potosi - Sucre

After Uyuni, we headed quickly on to Potosi. Potosi was a huge town, due to it's Cerro Rico, a mountain full of silver (among other things). Our first impression of Potosi wasn't very nice, it's full of very small streets, and there are way too many cars on the road. The result is very noisy and polluted. But once we'd left the big bagpacks in the hostal and walked around the center we were able to enjoy the city a little more. Especially on saturday and sunday when there is much less traffic. We went to visit the mines to see how real miners still work today. I must say that I was quite proud of myself because I'm a little claustrophobic and yet I didn't freak out at any time during the visit. We first started by putting on the miner gear, big pants and coat, helmet with head light... only then did we head on to the market to buy presents for the miners... You sure feel like a silly tourist when you're in the middle of the market with all your miner gear and headlight, but well I guess the tour agencies need to get some kind of publicity. So in the market we bought some coca leaves, some fizzy drinks and dynamite to give to the miners we would cross in the mine. Then we headed to the mine, we went 200 meters horizontally into the mountain and then 80 meters vertically (ie. down, down, down). It never gets hard to breath in the mine, although sometimes you can feel that the air is thick with dust. It was a really impressive experience. The work of these miners is really tough. They can spend more than 12 hours in the mine at a time. We had just missed the annual celebration to the Pachamama (mother earth). They have a representation of the Pachamama, which had been decorated for the celebration, and loads of empty beer cans around the statue, since one of the offerings is alcohol (rest assured, they pour a little bit on the ground and drink the rest!). After three - four days in Potosi we moved on to Sucre. Sucre is a very pretty colonial town. Really nice place to stay to rest for a few days. Once again, very small streets, but we got the impression that there was much less traffic. We didn't do much in Sucre to be honest, just wandered around, spent an afternoon taking the sun at the mirador. We did see a really nice museum with two very interesting exhibitions. One was on the traditional masks used during carnaval and other fiestas. They had some very impressive masks, and strangely some had some very strong ressemblance to chinese masks. The other exhibition was about the Uru-Chipaya culture (pre-inca). Otherwise, it's carnaval in Bolivia, and the big tradition at Carnaval are water fights. Basically the whole month of carnaval is a huge water fight. The dream for any child. It's mostly the boys chasing the girls but the toursits get their fair share of attention too. Anything goes, water ballons, water guns, buckets of water thrown from the window... some shaving cream also. It's quite fun to see everyone play along.

Posté par wendorej à 00:35 - Bolivia - Permalien [#] Partager