Day 188 – Potosi, BO

Day 188 – Potosi, BO      02/25/11      Mileage: 0

Potosi is famous for mainly one thing…the mine. The Spanish found pure veins of silver in the mountain here and extracted more than 45,000 tons…fueling the Spanish Empire. In it’s heyday, Potosi was one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the world…and it’s also one of the highest at 13, 400 feet. The mine has been in operation for over 400 years, and the mountain is riddled with some 400 different mines, 127 of which are currently in operation. There are roughly 12,000 miners who work in the various individual mines in a co-op structure. Normally there is a shuttle bus to take the gringo tourists around, but because of a nationwide general strike, no buses were aloud to run. Instead we had to ride in the back of a truck, which frankly made it a bit more realistic.

Our first stop was to get fitted with our miners outfit complete with hard-hat and miners lamp.


Marshall and I all dressed up and looking to party…

Next was the miners market where we bought gifts for the miners…water, coca leaves, oh, and of course dynamite!

Yep, that is real dynamite for sale…no age or any kind of other restrictions…it’s as easy to buy as toothpaste.

When do we get to light the bang sticks!?

Some locals in the market…

Next we toured the facility where they process the rock from the mine to extract the silver.

Then it was back to the truck for the bumpy 20 minute ride up to the mine.

Just outside the mine shaft, our guide lit a stick of dynamite and let (those who wanted) hold it…after which he quickly ran and tossed it out into an open area before it exploded moments later.

I hope this really is a 3 minute fuse….or else this will be a very bad day!

Evan at a distance you could feel the shock wave and the echo lingered as it bounced off of the nearby mountains. Next it was into the mine itself where there are no lights except for the one on your helmet.

Our guide in the entrance to the mine…

It is also dusty and definitely no place for the claustrophobic! As we descended deeper into the mine the temperature got hotter and it was altogether an uncomfortable place to be. In places we had to crawl on our stomachs over small collapsed areas or to squeeze through small shafts.

Most of the work is still done by hand or in some cases pneumatic drills are used to make holes for the dynamite, but it is as you might expect a dirty, dusty, arduous job to say the least.

Back on the surface we loaded back into the truck and headed back for town. It was an altogether great experience and certainly made me appreciate my (former) cushy IT job. That night Marshall and Megan cooked a nice homemade dinner for the three of us and we shared some good laughs and conversation. Tomorrow it’s off to Uyuni, if the weather cooperates!

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23 Responses to Day 188 – Potosi, BO

  1. lisa says:

    lol at picture of you dressed as miner! what a cool experience – something i would never ever want to do but very interesting to watch you do! lisa

    • Lenny says:

      Well, I’m glad I did it once so I don’t have to do it again! Lol

      I sent a few souvenirs home from Peru…a few little things for Maya and Raq….

  2. Chris MacPhee says:

    Unbelievable ! I am so wide eyed right now reading this, and also felt the walls moving in as you climbed through the Mine ! thanks for sharing ! great entry !

    • Lenny says:

      Thanks Chris! Yeah, it was a little crazy crawling through that mine… I’m not claustrophobic at all but it was a little freaky in spots! :-O

  3. Chris MacPhee says:

    how do you watch the videos ? I am getting a message that they are private.
    if so thats cool, but I’m dying to see the Dynomite blow

  4. Melinda says:

    Arlene,
    I left you a post under Made It to Chile.
    Melinda

    Lenny,

    I hope to meet you one day, either in Panama or the States.
    Be safe always,
    Melinda

  5. Arlene says:

    Hi Melinda…..thanks for the answer and thanks for re-enforcing Lenny slowing down. Us mothers have too stick together.

    It is Saturday, 3/5 at 3:30 here in NJ and it looks like Lenny is really making up time on the Highways the last two days. I spoke to him on the Skype on Thursday and he sounds great and I still pinch myself that he is doing this trip. He is doing great and me and my husband are so very proud of him. We all miss him and just are so thankful that he has the blog and the tracker. Our friends are following it and everyone really enjoys it. Our daughter, Lisa, is a teacher and her students are following too. Lots are prayers are riding with him.

    Be well and be happy. Arlene

    • Melinda says:

      I feel it in my bones that Lenny is such a great guy. All he needs is for you to be proud and supportive of his choices. One thing he’ll always be is the son you raised. Look at that beautiful smile in his pictures!!
      You’ve got to be a GREAT Mom and a proud one at that.

      I have emailed Lenny’s blog to soo many of my friends and relatives and they too are enjoying the blog and are also passing it on.
      I hope he is able to write a book from the journey he has taken us on. It’s one we never would have taken on our own and wouldn’t have seen these BEAUTIFUL photo’s without him.
      Lucky you that you got to hear his voice!!! I count my blessing every time I hear Chad’s voice.
      Please tell him I said, hello an my door is always open. Chad can verify that one.

      Do you have my email address?? Don’t know if you can pick it up from Lenny’s blog.
      This is the 1st blog I have ever followed or written on.

      Have a blessed day,
      Melinda

  6. Paul Bell says:

    Lenny, wow- great pictures with fantastic commentary! I am always smiling when I read your posts. Glad you are safe and having the time of your life!
    Kim

    • Lenny says:

      Hi Kim! Thanks…yeah it’s going great but I am sooooo far behind on the blog and getting to the tip of South America…but I’m still trying! Hope all is well with you guys!

  7. Arlene says:

    Hi Melinda….. I just read your March 5ht at 7:25pm entry on Day 188 and truly appreciate all your kind words about me and Lenny. I agree with everything you say about being a mother. It is the best job in the world and being a grandmother is pretty high up there also. My husband and I consider ourselves very, very blessed and have always enjoyed being with our children and now our granddaughters also.

    Glad you and your friends and relatives enjoy the blog. Wanted you to know that your e-mail address is not accessible from the blog. Lenny is smart about that.

    It is Sunday evening, 6:30pm in New Jersey and Lenny is still riding(it is 8:30pm there). I think he will be crossing into Argentina Monday morning.
    To all that follow…….be well and be happy and safe. Arlene a/k/a Mom

    • Melinda says:

      Hi Arlene,

      I feel as though I have found a new friend in you, and our son’s brought us together. How amazing is that??

      It’s 6:55 here in Panama.

      Is Lenny able to see my email? If so he can pass it on to you. If not, is it safe to give it to you in a blog? As I said yesterday, this is my first ever blog and I need to be educated on doing this.

      Lenny is so fun to follow he’s giving us a play by play visual education and I sure do appreciate and admire what he’s doing.

      You mentioned he would arrive in Argentina on Monday morning, will he be riding through the night?

      I think I’ll open a bottle of wine from Argentina to celebrate his arrival.

      Since you are already sound so happy be well and safe.
      All the best to you, your husband Lisa and granddaughters.

      Melinda

  8. Arlene says:

    Hi Melinda, It is 9:00pm, Sunday night, in NJ and I just checked Lenny’s tracker and Lenny stopped riding at 7:51pm, which means he stopped riding at 9:51pm his time in Chile. He is past Santiago, I just looked at the map and he will eat and sleep and get going in the morning, is what I figure. It is my guess.

    I am writing to say that you should not put your e-mail address on the blog. When I get to talk to Lenny, I will find out how I can get your e-mail address. Give me a few days please. Writing on the blog is not his e-mail. On his e-mail everyone will not see your address and there must be a way of doing it. Chad probably has Lenny’s e-mail and he can send him your e-mail and Lenny can forward it to me. I am way behind on figuring out the stuff on computers, TV, etc. Very frustrating to me.

    Take care, Arlene

  9. Arlene says:

    3/7 Monday evening. I see you are into Argentina. Congratulations. Friends are e-mailing or calling me about the adventures and you are amazing. Also comments about how you talked your way out of that ticket. People are going to places that they could never do except through your eyes.

    Be well and safe. Love ya, Mom

    • Melinda says:

      Hi Arlene, Thanks for the up date on Lenny’s arrival into Chile.

      Ooh thanks, I won’t put my email on the blog. I asked Chad about Lenny’s email and he only has his cell # and facebook. But, if you can think of another way to connect I would enjoy that. I DON’T do facebook.

      How lucky are you to be able to track him. It must give you a little piece of mind knowing about where he is.

      I look forward to hearing from you and seeing Lenny’s post and beautiful photos.
      Melinda

      Hi Lenny, Be safe and continue to show us the Beauty through your eyes.
      PEACE be with you.
      Melinda – – another proud and happy mom

  10. Arlene says:

    Hi Melinda, Lenny has been in Argentina the past few days. Haven’t heard from him but know he is good and moving south. You can actually track him also. When you open the blog and go down, on the right side there is a calendar showing the month and then a list of the months and then a place you can click and track him…….it says SPOT SATELLITE TRACKER.

    I also do not have Facebook. Lenny should be having some nicer weather and glad he is moving south.
    Be well and be happy. Nice keeping in touch. There should be Peace for everyone, Arlene

  11. Arlene says:

    It is Wednesday evening, 6:30pm and we see that Lenny is still going south in Argentina and rode until 8:00pm. There is a two hour time difference and also it stays lighter there longer.

    I am sure there are no places for you to write Lenny and just wanted your followers to know that you are okay. We got the package today that you sent home.

    Be well and be safe. With all our love, Mom and Dad

  12. Melinda says:

    Lenny,
    Be safe happy and well. Keep showing us the beauty of the world through your eyes.
    Another mom,
    Melinda

  13. Arlene says:

    Thursday afernoon, 3/10. Hi Lenny, I see that you stopped at San Carlos de Bariloche and I looked it up and it has everything you enjoy in that area. We will see if you get to do any skiing????? You sure did a lot of riding to get there the past few days.

    Enjoy and be well and safe. Love ya, Mom

    • Lenny says:

      Yep! I’ll be parked here for a few days before I continue south…..I’ll try and call when I find a good internet connection…. 🙂

  14. Melinda says:

    Hi Arlene, Thanks for the info on Lenny’s Spot Satellite Tracker. The information was right under my nose and I didn’t even see it.
    I was able to track him on 3/8 but haven’t been able to track him since. We are having internet problems and I just noticed I sent you a message yesterday but it didn’t post, however, the one I sent Lenny did.

    Hope all is well with you.
    Be safe and happy.
    Melinda

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