TravellingStrom

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Day 388 – 31st December 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on December 31, 2009

Thursday – Potosi, Bolivia

Bang Bang Bang, I love dynamite 🙂

We had some basic breakfast, once again stale bread, but once we had packed we were on the road to Potosi, Chris’s bike looked a bit different with all the red clay mud all over it. We found out there is a different road we could take which would not be so slick and slippery, that would have been nice to know last night! But we eventually got back onto the cobblestone road and then the main road and headed to Potosi, a massive 16km away 🙂

There was a nice bit of scenery and twisties before we got into the town and found the place that Gert had organised for us to park the bikes.

We had been booked into a tour of the mines here, at a place called ‘the mountain that eats men’, not a good sign! This town used to be a silver town and it was claimed the streets were paved in silver, the silver from this town was the base of the Spanish economy for nearly 200 years, but now it is mainly minerals like zinc, copper, lead and tin that is extracted. The town looked old, especially the buildings and doors.

We were a tad late by the time we got to the tour operator, but we were soon kitted out with all the coveralls and miner kit that was needed, of course we had to pay extra for the neckerchief, but as the mine would be dusty, best to wear one 🙂

The next stop on the tour is the miners market, now, today there are no miners working as they had worked all night to get the day off. But, we were shown these small shops where normally you buy some stuff to give to the miners. As you can see from the shape, it is easy to buy dynamite and ammonia nitrate here, in fact there are no controls whatsoever so even little kids can buy it for the miners!!! Considering I worked for a security company and used to have access to an explosives plant near my home town, this place is open season for purchasing explosives! Graham did a funny thing, he had a stick in his hand and at the same time as saying “this stuff is inherently stable” he wacked it over the head of Johannes in front of him, what a crack up 🙂 In my hand is my purchase, one stick of dynamite, one pack of ammonia nitrate as explosion enhancer and a two minute fuse with detonator 🙂

We also had the chance to buy a bit of pig if we were interested, but I decided not to at this stage 🙂

So, it was on to the mines and after a group photo we headed inside for about 200 metres or so, it was a bit warm and the air smelt bad, mainly of sulphur and the tunnel was a bit small and I even had to duck a few times, poor Chris and Graham at 6ft hardly got straight!

Once we were at a junction, some of our group turned back as they were feeling a bit claustrophobic, while the rest went down a short tunnel to see the El Diablo, or devil.

The reason for this dude is that they give offerings to him hoping that by doing this the mountain will let them live. All the bottles are the remains of the 96% liquor that they drink and there are also large amounts of cocoa leaves and bongs, joints whatever 🙂 This dude has a big clay knob(which was broken) and the idea being if the devil ejaculates, that will turn into seams of valuable metal. We had the chance to go deeper into the lower levels, but I figured as there is no one working, it would be hotter and with less air and nothing else to see but more tunnels. Johannes was the only one who went down 3 levels, he is the one suffering from altitude sickness and asthma, good on him 🙂 Once everyone was back on the surface, the guides asked us for the dynamite so it could be blown up, well they ended up with three to play with but at least myself and Chris kept ours back, we intended to use ours during out ride to the salt flats 😉 We payed especial attention to how they prepared it, piss easy, anyone can shove a fused detonator into some plastic stuff and light the end, I have seen it done on cartoons 😆 Now, this stuff is very dangerous(doh!) so no mucking around OK, just light the fuse and throw it in the hole, nah, lets muck around a bit 😉 Check out the video, the bangs were impressive 🙂

After being taken back and cleaned up, we had a quick feed before finding the hotel we were going to be booked into. It turned out to be quite a pleasant place, although not a cheap one, but after last night I wanted some internet to do some updates.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was work and sleep 🙂 Basically follow up on emails, forums and some blog stuff, but the internet here was very scratchy, so it was hard to upload anything, but with a stack of people all trying at the same time, it may get better later, I am getting further and further behind. And it was much later that we headed out for some drinks and a small feed across the road. It was 9pm and the girls had done a fab job of finding a spot for the night, basically at one of the best locations to bring in the new year and what we do is buy a table for $125BoB each, that gets you live entertainment, a feed and a bottle of spirit, but you pay extra for the beer! Now, this place opened at 9pm and we got there at 9.30pm and we were still the only ones there, but it had a bar, so why not have our own little party, you can see by the video the place is empty, yet the music was loud as usual!!

Now, with three tables and a bottle at each, we chose Ron, Vodka and Scotch, needless to mention which table I was at 🙂

Now, it was real weird, but people did start to turn up around 11.40pm, by now we were amazed and we found out later that here in Bolivia, they spend most of the night with their families and go out afterwards, so this place would not close until 5am, whew, can I do it 😕 Well, we made the new year although with all the band noise, I did not see or hear if any fireworks went off, they certainly did not play Auld Land Sine! There was some dancing happening though for the couples and it was good to see Gino up and about, sore chest and all 🙂

As the level of the Ron dropped, so did my rosy red cheeks gain a glow 🙂

I have no idea who that is 😉 Most of the group left around 1.30 or so, but Ingo and Cecelia asked if I wanted to go clubbing, well why not, surely there had to be some pretty Bolivian chicas out there 🙂

Needless to say, it was a long night, I actually got up and danced, too pissed to know any better, but with pretty girls around, why not eh 🙂 We got out of there around 5am and I think I was tucked away around 5.30, not a bad night, even though it did start out confusing!


Day – 10 miles and 16 km
Trip – 47,937 miles and 77,147 km

Salud
TravellingStrom

WORLD

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15 Responses to “Day 388 – 31st December 09”

  1. Becsta said

    Well I have finally caught up. I got behind when they blocked your site at work. I am at work now and have just read the last few weeks on my iPhone. It looks like you had a good Christmas and new year.

    All the best for 2010 and staying up right for the whole year.

  2. Becsta said

    I forgot to say before thanks for recommending Nightwish. I am really enjoying most of their music. Some of it is a bit to heavy for my taste.

  3. Hugh said

    You did us proud! Good to see an Aussie rebeller in Bolivia. Looks like you had a ball.

    All the best for 2010

    Cheers
    Hugh

  4. aadk said

    Happy New Year Richard.Have a fine,nice & healty 2010 :-))

  5. Jan Ferrari said

    I have caught up for the new year, looks like you had a good time. The pics are amazing. Peru, just what I wanted to see. Keep on Keepin on Richard, I’m enjoying the ride. Cheers

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