Bolivia, headspace, South America

panic in Potosi

Bec / 27/06/2013

Potosi was not kind to me. Sitting at an altitude of 4060mtrs, the mining city took my breath away, and not in a good way. The temperature also dropped and wind picked up, whistling through the narrow streets to slap us in the face.

I would recommend against staying at La Casona Hostel if you’re ever in town – the rooms are unsecured and absolutely freezing, breakfast is stale bread and cold coffee and they don’t refund if you get sick and can’t go on their mining tour.

I had my ticket and got as far as putting on the pants and jacket before my gut feeling got the better of me and I had to bug out. It’s probably not a good idea to go into a claustrophobic mine shaft when you’re already hyperventilating. It can’t be a smart move to go underground, clambering over dangerous scaffolding and avoiding breathing in the dust and arsenic when you can’t get your breath back on the surface. I also wonder at the wisdom of making tourists buy “gifts” for the miners, encouraging the purchase of dynamite sticks and the local 96% alcohol whiskey…because there’s two things that go hand in blown-off hand. I joined Ivy and Katie for breakfast at Cherry’s instead while I waited for my heart rate to return to normal-for-sitting-at-high-altitude-and-no-longer-freaking-out.

A protest by the town’s traders was the afternoon entertainment, including sitting-in on the footpaths spreading out from the main square, random bangs of fireworks and a lot of shouting at government buildings. Nothing like a healthy distaste for government regulation to get the family out for the day.

Potosi does have one things going for it – salteñas – think of a Cornish pastie in options of chicken or beef and then add more juice and some dried fruit for a touch of sweetness to the mix. Crunchy pastry and piping hot filling. Quite yum.

I didn’t make it out for dinner or any more meals in Potosi – finally succumbing to the fog in my head, I took to my bed. On our way out of town, bound for Uyuni I got to try my luck at the fabled farmacias that sell you anything, even without a prescription and walked away with a course of antibiotics. Not bad huh.

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