The mountain below at Potosi was once the biggest silver mine in the world. During colonial times, Potosi had a
population bigger than Madrid and as great as London. At 12,907 feet, it is the highest city in the world. The Indians
were enslaved to work in these mines and it is estimated that as many as 9,000,000 people died working in these
mines--equivalent to the population of Bolivia today! This mine helped make Spain the wealthiest nation in the world.
Prior to our visit to the mine, Jackie bought coca leaves as gifts for the miners and bread for the children (below left). A
dozen rolls of bread cost 2 bolivianos equivalent to 25 cents in the US.
Above right, two miners enter the mine we visited. Below we pass miners bringing out ore by wheel barrow.
On the way we passed Tio the Devil. The miners had left
gifts for him as payment for their safety. Notice the cigarette
in Tios mouth, one of the gifts from the miners. Below a
minor hoists up ore which he dumps in the wheel barrow.
To the right, a minor pounds holes in the rock for
dynamiting later in the day.
To the left, Jackie works her way through the tunnel.
Unfortunately, I passed up the most photographic
opportunities. We we were asked if we would like to go up
another level by ladder. The "ladder" turned out to be a 2
by 6 inch board on a steep angle. After the board, we
worked out way up further by digging in our boots and
clawing our way up where we found more miners at work
using the same primitive methods used for centuries