Friday, 24 October 2008

Don´t cry for us

We have now entered the final phase - 3 weeks to go! We´ve left Bolivia behind and now in Argentina. Spending a lot of time together... some might say too much judging from the photo below.

Dave spent a day in the working silver mines of Potosi. We were taken first to the miners market where we bought kits containing a stick of dynamite, plastic explosive and a fuse for 1.80 euro, some as presents for the miners and some for ourselves to blow up for the fun of it. We also bought presents of drink, cigarettes and coca leaves.

We spent about 2 hours walking around the cramped dusty mines as the working miners hurryed past with cart loads of ore in the dusty rarified air (we were at 4800m). We wore dust masks but the miners didn´t because they said it impeded their breathing! It´s a co-operative mine where the miners work for themselves in small groups. We met one family group who worked with just a hammer and chisel to make holes to insert the dynamite and then carry out the ore by hand just like they have been doing for the last 400 years.

Down one passageway we made a ball with 2 sticks of dinimite, the plastic explosive and lit the fuse and ran..... 2 minutes later we heard the bang and the rush of air - real safe!

We continued our journey south through Bolivia to Uyuni and the Salt Flats. An amazing pre-historic salt lake that has dried up and left behind 10,582 square km of dead flat salt. At 3,600m above sea level its a realy striking place. The pratical upshot of having miles of plain landscape is it allows you to take some interesting perspective photos. We spent an hour taking photos, but we could have spent 5 hours, with all the props we could gather; rubix cube, toy soldiers, beer bottles, bananas etc. It was a 3 day trip with an insane amount of driving that took in sights from one of the dryest place on earth; rocks etched into interesting shapes by the sandy wind, volcanoes and geysers, bright blue skies over lakes filled with pink flamingos (I am informed by the David Attenborough watching Chris Dowley that they are pink because of their diet of pink shrimp).

We slept on beds of salt in a house constructed out of salt blocks. Swam in balmy thermal water, after which my hair promptly froze! (Sian took the lazy option and stayed dressed on the sidelines in her ski gear). Looked at blue lakes, red lakes and green lakes. All and all a great trip but far too many miles of drving in a Land Cruiser to see all these sights.

Hi Ho Silver. We did a days cowboying (and cowgirling) in Tupiza. "Will there be riding helmets provided?" "Yes, yes, there´ll be hats", turned out to be cowboy hats, looked better and luckily their crash protection wasn´t put to the test. We walked, trotted, cantered and even galloped our way through wild west country - rugged red hills, cacti, the works. Running along the railway ahead of trains and trotting through rivers. Great fun, but we were very stiff and sore afterwards.

We´re now in Salta, Argentina, and loving it. They´ve got all that we were missing in Bolivia, shopping centers with multi screen cinemas and McDonalds, good comfortable buses, low altitude easy to breathe air and people who don´t reply to all requests with a surly "No".


Blogger SGC said...

Continuing the great line of Irish in Argentina, feel free to drop references to the founder of the Argentian navy - William Brown native of Foxford, to get some free bottles of Quilmes. Although it looks like you are doing your best impression of Ernie Guevara...although he was a little more clean cut when he was touring South America, you scruffy scamp. Good luck!!

30 October 2008 22:26  

Post a Comment

<< Home