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Colin and Sue’s Travel Diary

Friday, 10 Nov 2006

Location: Potosi, Bolivia

MapHealth update - feeling slightly better, still got lots of antibiotics to take. The doctor, somewhat alarmingly, told me I was out of danger now - I hadn´t really thought that I was in danger.

Arrived in Potosi to find the town celebrating its anniversary. Our taxi from the bus station was a "Transformer" - an imported right-hand drive car whose steering wheel, but not the speedometer or other instruments, had been moved onto the passenger side - very strange.

Potosi is famous for its silver mines where for centuries miners (mostly indigenous people and slaves from Africa) endured terrible conditions under Spanish rule - working for 40 hours at a stretch sustained only by coca leaves. The conditions are meant to be a bit better now, although more on that when we have been on our mine tour.

The fiesta seems to last 2-3 days. Last night was the march of the miners around town accompanied by numerous brass bands, floats with model mines on top, and groups representing everyone else.

In honour of the anniversary, Evo Morales, El Presidente, has been to town doing walkabouts so we´ve seen him 3 times. Possibly because of this, the whole march seems to be repeated this afternoon. The bands are incredibly loud and play in competition with each other and the noise of the fire crackers set off by the miners. The staff of our hostel have fully entered into the spirit of things and were all drunk and emotional by 11 o´clock this morning.

We had only planned to be here for a couple of days but want to visit the mine when the miners are working so we´re having to wait until after the weekend. Hopefully the miners will have recovered from the fiesta excesses - especially since we apparently take them gifts including dynamite.