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Potosi Mines
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V decided that the mines were going to prove a little too small for comfort so J headed off with Corine and Neals solo. Our group was completed by an Aussie couple and two Brits who were sleeping with each other, or at least they wanted to. The female of the two definitely won first prize for most annoying. She resented the fact J was from Canterbury but high-fived Ashford for ‘shopping’. Yes that’s how bad she was.

Dressed and briefed we entered the mines. 10 minutes of walking hunched over into the dark, dust and heat, we stopped for a break. Everyone was finding it hard to breathe, coughing and gasping in lung-fulls of poison. Almost immediately the Aussie couple turned back, one had asthma and couldn’t handle anymore, the other more than happy to get out. Corine, Neals and I all willed like crazy for the English bint to turn back but she stuck with it. We continued on deeper into the mine. Hunched walking was exchanged for crawling and in some places this was superseded by sliding on your stomach. Every so often our guide would shout from in front, ‘minors coming’. We all had to take cover and make space in the tiny shaft. Tried desperately not to kick up the dust from under our feet but as we descended into the dark, the slippery, 45degree slopes made it hard not to slip. Eventually we reached level -3, we were now 4000+ meters above sea level and 100 odd meters below ground. At this point J took a shovel from a 15 year old boy and shovelled rocks into a cart for about a minute, that was enough. We began our return trip to the surface, dodging miners carts and trying to make our selves scarce. The miners actually enjoy having tourists visit them in the mines as it brings them money (the tour companies share their profit) and every group brings gifts. We gave 10 sticks of dynamite, 3 bottles of juice and a truckload of coca leaves. Sounds like anyone’s Christmas list.

Fresh air never tasted so good. The heat of the mine had gone and all that was left on us was cold sweat and enough dust to bury an elephant. The annoying English girl continued her mission to be crowned ‘World’s most stupid traveller’ by lighting up a cigarette.

Meanwhile V spent the day with her new Chinese friend who calls Jeremy ‘Germany’.

That night we took the bus to La Paz.

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