Sucre and Silver Mines.

June 4, 2010 - Sucre, Bolivia

 Returning to La Paz once again, we stayed long enough only to enjoy the Hostel´s hot tub and film collection.  The next day we were bound for Bolivia´s second city and still its constitutional capital.  Much like Peru´s Arequipa, Sucre boasts a wealth of architectural beauty and remains awash with white walls and terracotta skylines.  Although there are certainly plenty of activities available here, we opted instead to simply enjoy the city itself.  Balconies overlooking the main plaza, named for the day preceeding our arrival, were used excessively for both relaxing and furious card playing.

The city is also the unoffical birthplace of Bolivia itself as its walls saw the beginnings of revolution against the colonists as well as the signing of independence in 1825.  The very room in which freedom was assured is still open to visitors and made sure our short stay was not without a taste of culture.

After visiting the sights of Sucre, stomachs rumbled and indulgence found at the town´s infamous French restauraunt "La Taverne".  For all under a tenner, Paddy, Koen, Tinneke and myself dined on lobster, fillet steak and wine. 

Next day, the two of us caught a bus (with incredible ease compared to our previous experience of Bolivia´s transport system) to Potosi, once the richest and one of the most important towns in the Americas.  As if being the highest city in the world was not impressive enough, the mountain around which the town is based is believed to be "made of silver" and once ensured fabulous riches for all who sought fortune in its mines.  The wealth of silver has certainly dwindled leaving Potosi in the shadows of the city it once was.  Nevertheless miners continue to labour (often to death) in the mine´s hellish passages in search of profitable minerals such as tin and zinc.  They will do this 6 days a week, sometimes for 24 hours at a time, and unsurprisingly expect to live longer than 40. 

This said, the mines are now a popular tour and their dark, dust filled tight spaces were visited by yours truly.  3 levels below any sign of sunlight it can get very tricky to breathe let alone see and larger members of the tour found themselves, on occasion, involuntarily trapped.  After making our way back to earth by means of creaky ladders amidst faint explosions and crumbling walls, we enjoyed the effects of dynamite and a sip of 96% alcohol.

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