Back in its heyday, Potosi was referenced by the Spaniards in the phrase "es un Potosi", meaning something that was immensely rich. You wouldn't expect to find what used to be the world's richest city at 4100 meters in one of the world's poorest countries after bumping along a dusty dirty road for 150 km, but as James and I rounded the last corner, there was the city, thirty-something grand churches and all the other signs of immense wealth, wrapped around the mountain that is responsible for its existence. This mountain was full of silver, zinc and tin, metals for which the Spaniards' insatiable thirst caused unspeakable conditions of slave labor amongst the Indians and Africans that worked the veins. Conditions have improved since the days of slavery (miners worked in six-month "shifts" without emerging from the mine) but it can still be described as a job from hell. Visiting the mines was one of the most humbling, somewhat disturbing, yet strangely fascinating things I have ever done. We hired a guide to take us deep into the inner reaches of the mine, but because it is customary for visitors to bring gifts for the miners we went shopping first.MORE...
I am pleased to report success on 6,964 meter (22,834 foot) Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas and the second highest of the "seven summits". It started as an idea over a beer in Potosi, Bolivia, and ended with the reality of standing atop the highest point in the world outside of Asia. Although it was a gruelling, very tough experience, and I wouldn't go up there again for a thousand dollars, it is a very rewarding addition to my experience in South America.MORE...
Five months, 16500 miles, three seasons, twelve countries and four sets of tires after leaving home, I arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina, the "end of the world". It is as far south as you can get by road and is within spitting distance of Cape Horn. It seems quite strange to have made it after all this time dreaming of riding here and all of the preparations. Now the primary "goal" of Ushuaia has been reached, but really my goal is to get to know each of the countries I pass through, and so that is a work in progress.MORE...
I ended up spending more than two weeks in Rio Gallegos. As was to be expected in this Latin American culture, I got a series of “mañana, mañana” responses regarding my parts ordered from Buenos Aires. Luis, the mechanic, got as frustrated as I did when he continually phoned the Kawasaki dealer to prod them along. Five days after promised, the parts arrived and soon thereafter I had a redone water pump (complete replacement of the broken shaft would have cost $375 and three weeks wait), completely refurbished front suspension, and a few other minor improvements. Dieter was a guest of Luis during this time (he was nursing his broken collarbone), so at least I had a good drinking buddy in this otherwise very boring town.MORE...
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