Thursday, 24 July 2014

Potosi, Bolivia: It's A Little High Up Here

After leaving the hospital I was dropped off in the centre of Potosi where I quickly found a private room for a couple of nights. Potosi was a very important city in the Spanish Empire, at one stage it is believed to have bankrolled the empire. Over 40,000 tonnes of Silver were mined from the nearby mountain of Cerro de Potosi (AKA Cerro Rico "Rich Mountain") from the 16th to the 18th century, with 20% going to the Spanish crown. This is the origin of the Spanish expression "Vale un Potosi"; Worth a Potosi.

During this time the population stood at over 200,000 people making it one of the largest cities in the world. The population dwindled since those days and has only recently matched historic number again (currently about 250,000). Potosi is one of the highest cities in the world with an average height of 4,090m above sea level. In its day it would have been one of the most beautiful cities in the world but this is no longer the case.

It was before 9am when I arrived in my room. I just stuck to my room for most of the first day. My mind was definitely elsewhere and I was starting develop altitude sickness myself. I remember getting up in the afternoon feeling incredibly light headed, I left my room a bit worried while using the wall to hold myself up. I fell once and was starting to freak out a bit after what had happened over the last few days. I eventually made my way downstairs and had about 10 cups of Coca Tea. The hostel had 2 massive thermoses full of coca tea for the altitude.

The next day while walking the streets I ran into 5 of the Frenchies from Tilcara. We went and had lunch together, Alexia and I shared possibly the worst tasting beer I've had in my life, Potoseña. IF you're not good at pouring beer in normal altitude you have no hope at high altitude, unless you take 5 mins to pour a glass it will be mainly head. After lunch we explored more of the city where I ran into some of the Frenchies from Valle Fertil in Argentina... They really are everywhere. The Frenchies formed one big family and I went back to my hostel.

I had hoped to go to the mines that Potosi is famous for and set of some dynamite but since I wasn't 100% I wasn't too keen on spending the day in very confined spaces. Maybe I will go back one day.

The street food here was awesome. Mini burgers with steak fillets were less than $1. a big bag of popcorn was about 15 cents made fresh on the street.

After 3 nights in Potosi I decided to leave. Normally I would just stick around in a town until I've done what I wanted to do (mines and hiking) but time was becoming for the rest of my South American adventure.

The 15 minute taxi ride to the bus station was $1.50... Sorry travellers but I said it was too cheap and grave him double.

Next stop Sucre, Bolivia!

Leesons Learnt:
Sometimes it feels like I'm still travelling France.
Bolivia is so cheap.
Street food is awesome.
You will never enough time to do everything you want.

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