High times on the Altiplano
Ok Bolivia. Yes I´ll admit it has surprised me, especially as I only came here to fill some time up before a wedding in Brazil. Suddenly I´ve found myself going to mass at 7.30am and making offerings to the devil in a mineshaft three hours later. No I´m not hedging my bets with regards to the afterlife it´s just that life is tough here and people take help wherever they can get it.
However if I ever have another bus driver like yesterday´s specimen I´ll be selling my soul to the highest bidder as long as he can keep the insane creature´s foot off the accelerator. This cursed gentleman seemed determined to break all Altiplano land speed records despite the road regularly having sheer drops of 300 feet or more in either direction and the tires of the vehicle having no tread whatsoever. Any request for him to slow down was taken as a personal insult and only led him to try and gain an extra few mph from the already straining vehicle. Well I´m now still alive in Potosi and could recount tales of extraordinary landscapes on the Bolivian salt flats, give accounts of freezing temperatures (minus 15 and below) on the high plateau and regale you with stories of maneating llamas and the deadly desert rabbit. But I won´t.
Instead I will briefly pass over a morning which involved me purchasing mild narcotics, some stupidly strong alcoholic bevridges (96 per cent I believe) and some dynamite before heading up to the silver mines to blow things up. This was an experience that my ear drums are still coming to terms with but that´s nothing compared to the guys who work in there from the age of 13. That´s all for now though as there´s a chance I could fit another mass in before dinner.
This was originally written on 01 July 2007. It is from my summer trip to Latin America.