Recommended: Kola den hostel
Do: the mine tour
After our private charted bus dropped us off, we jumped in a cab and headed to the Kola den hostel. This was recommended to us by some randoms we met in the desert and it was a bloody good recommendation. The hostel is great, even has heating!! Potosi is high, really high and you can feel the altitude. We stayed in Potosi for a few days and checked out the town, which is pretty cool… beautiful even. Potosi exists to support the silver mine which produced a shitload of silver over the last few centuries. Although the best silver deposits have been extracted, the mad Bolivians still toil in the mines getting the remaining silver out. As the silver prices have increased recently the town is making a come back. It’s not a pretty job though… mining in Bolivia seriously reduces your life expectancy. That said the mine tour was the highlight here. This is not a pussy walk in the park tour, you have to crawl, climb and deal with the insane conditions of the mine.
mining… one way to get the chicks.
Our tour guide was great. You start by drinking some 99% alcohol and chewing some coca leaves before you plunge into the mine shafts. The only light in the mines comes from your helmet. The dust is thick and in some parts asbestos lines the shaft ceiling and walls. You have some arsenic in the air and you have to watch for holes in the ground where the shaft has collapsed.
While we were in the mine, there was blasting above us in one of the shafts. The smell of gunpowder filled the air and consumes the oxygen.
looking good maaate.
Other than the mine tour, Potosi is a cool town, but you spend most of your time breathless. Eat the food on the street, it’s tops.