After the Uyuni-trip I made my way to the highest city of its size in the world, Potosi at 4067m altitude. There I visited the silver mines where the miners get out the metal with methods like a few hundred years ago. They do not have more than a hammer, a chisel and a few rods of dynamite. No modern machines are used, everything is done by muscle-power.
Also children at an age of about ten years and older work in the mine because some of the tunnels are so small and thin that just very small persons can fit in them.
Before we entered the mines, we visited the miners-market and bought some gifts for the miners:
Coca-leafs, which is the only thing the miners eat during their 12h-shifts, soft drinks,
96%-pure alcohol, which the miners used as a gift to Pachamama (mother-earth) to protect them when they are working in the mines (and also for drinking to not fall asleep...) and of course dynamite. Yes, in Bolivia you can buy dynamite without any problems... :-)
The dusty air and heat inside the mountain made the visit almost unbearable.
This trip is really not for everyone as you also have to climb sometimes or crawl on your knees, because the tunnels are so small...
One girl of our group suffered a panic attack and needed to turn back. So the rest of the group and me were waiting for our guide to come back. We would be lost in this tunnel-system without
The miners make new tunnels everywhere in the mountain, so they gave up a long time ago to create some map of the tunnel-system inside the mountains.
So sometimes one of the tunnels collapses because of another tunnel going very close above or underneath it...
The highlight was definitely the detonation with the dynamite we brought. It was a drama as some of our group almost started crying that they do not want to get buried and die due to the detonation...
It was really a relief for everybody when we finally got out of the mines and could breath the fresh air and see the blue sky again.
It was a very cool to get a small insight of the daily life of the miners.
I personally liked this tour and I am pretty sure that such kind of trips would be totally forbidden in Europe as they are too dangerous...
But hey, that's not Europe. THAT IS BOLIVIA!!! ;-)