This one is ´ mine´.
As you will notice in the details above, I am actually now in Argentina, country number four on my trip so far, so for the reason of simply being too busy, have now managed to fall behind. For your enjoyment and benefit, I will ask you to pretend that I have fallen in love with Bolivia and still find myself there, finding it impossible to drag myself away from the ´ High Life´.
After sucessfully completing ´ The Death Road´ in La Paz, it was soon time for me to leave the World´s highest Capital and make my way south in the general direction of Uyuni, that famous town, which offers nothing else but The Worlds highest and largest salt flat.
Having heard horror stories previously, regarding Bolivian bus drivers drinking and falling asleep at the wheel during night journeys, I planned my route in such a way that i would only travel during the day. Sadly this meant that Icouldn´t save any money on a nights accommodation, but it did mean that Icould see more of what Bolivia had to offer, including a generous number of road side cliffs!!
My first destination was a small town only 3 hours south of the capital named Oruro, famous for a Devil festival once a year. For the other 360 days of the year it is rubbish.
My journey, although short, was quite eventful, with a lady breast feeding her baby in the seat opposite, a lady filling a carrier bag with yesterdays rice and potatoes in the seat in front and a young couple making out in the seat behind. It wasn´t all pleasant, but good entertainment I thought!
As soon as we arrived in Oruro, I headed to the Tourist Information booth ( a little hard to believe it was open considering they have nearly 51 weeks holiday a year! ) and chatted away to two nice girls behind the desk, who offerec to help me purchase my next ticket to the city of Potosi, to the south.
I stayed only one night in Oruro, in a hotel named Hotel America. Nothing about the place was bigger or better and the breakfast in the morning was rubbish ( I asked but never got!! )
The next day I caught the next bus to Potosi, happy that I had seen all of the Oruro highlights. This journey was much nicer than the last and Igot chatting to a mother and daughter, sitting in the chairs opposite, showing them photos of home and giving them my life history. All four of their eyelids remained open throughout, so i was a happy man!
Scenery-wise, we spent the 6 hours driving across the Bolivian Altiplano, a treeless and windswept place, which makes the fens of East Anglia seem slightly appealing. I hadn´t realised on the journey, that we had climbed considerably by the time we reached Potosi and had reached an altitude of nearly 4100m. Hawling my pack to the hotel was thus a very tiring affair and I collapsed quite happily onto the double bed that Ihad afforded myself!
The next day I did what I had come to Potosi to do- I went on a tour of the nearby mines.
I spent the whole of that morning, banging my head, shivering, sweating and yelling. The mine really was quite a horrific environment, with huge temperature differences, filthy air and noise, which at times was nearly deafening. The only highlight, if you can call it one, was giving the miners Coca leaves, Coca Cola and dynamite, which we had boughtfor them before entering. They were very grateful for our gifts, but I still felt terrible as they dissapeared into the darkness of the tunnel, covered head to toe in dust!
More distressing, was seeing boys as young as 13 working the mines, leaving education behind in a hope that they can maybe get a headstart on their friends in making enough money to live.Sadly it is all in vain though as the life expectancy of most miners hardy exceeds 40 years, after they have consumed more than enough sulphur and other very nasty substances!
That day really was an eye opener and makes me realise again just how lucky i am to live where i do.