Potosí, Bolivia

Sky diving on mountain bikes.

Bolivia is proving to be rather awesome. La Paz was full of crazyness, situated at 3500m (ish), it’s the tallest capital city in the world. It was random and chaotic. I feel that although I don´t like chaos and big cities I do actually prefer to see it when I´m travelling as opposed to a same old European city. The place was full of markets and the food markets especially where pretty sweet with the fruit being huge from avocados to tomatoes. The chaos of a place really gives it character.

A little suprise outing in La Paz was a trip to the local Sunday night wrestling which turned out to be quite a laugh. Quite simply WWF wrestling Bolivian style which the locals loved and being tourists we got front row seats. The wrestlers were hilarious and there were fights between guys, women and guys and women. The photos can only describe the moment really but it was something that the locals loved and to be honest, so did we.

The big activity out of La Paz was mountain biking on death road which turned out to be bloody awesome! 64km of down hill biking from 4800m down to about 1400m. The views were awesome and as a bonus I didn´t fall off. Two of our group had minor falls and a lass on our sister (B) truck ended up having a night in hospital after requiring stitches for an over the handle bars face plant! No one fell over the edge though. To be fair the fact that there was a sheer drop only meters away from where you were biking was hardly noticable because you were too busy trying to stay on the bike, avoid big rocks and turning around a corner when required. We were lucky that there was no traffic on the road due to several landslides which made the whole experience a bit less crazy. Although, these days there is little traffic on death road thanks to a brand new road that has been opened which is slightly less deadly. Over all a fantastic day was had, a definite highlight of my travels so far.

We headed to the highest city in the world on Wednesday, Potosi which was made famous in the 17th and 18th century by silver and was for a time the biggest supplier of silver in the world. The Spanish naturally abused Bolivia for this resource and now the city is a shadow of its former self altough the mine continues to yield minerals. We had the chance to go into the mines and I can say now it was like hell on earth. We only went about 2km into the mountain but it was hard to breath and half the time the tunnels were only 3 to 4ft high. All the work is done through manual labour and the local minors shovel everything into carts that carry about 1tn and push them out of the mine. Their working conditions were quite terrible yet a diet of coca leaves, fizzy pop and 96% alcohol seemed to get them through a working day. It was quite the experience and after only about 2hrs in the mine most of us were ready to get out. Bearing in mind the mine was at over 3800m its hard enough to breath as it is.

Im affraid the internet isn´t too quick in Bolivia and so I will upload photos as soon as I get chance which won´t be for a while as we are bush camping for the next few days. We will be in Argentina on Saturday and thankfully back to lower altitudes. Alas, apparently Argentina is about to default on it´s debts and so the exchange rate for us is looking quite rosey!

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