October 21, 2002 GMT

After leaving La Paz we headed towards Potosi, which is a town with a huge silver mountain on its doorstep. It is over 4000m high and is very cold. We stayed there for quite a while as we did a tour of the mines, which was amazing to see the harsh conditions they work under. There was asbestos everywhere and the miners generally only last about 10 years before they die from asbestosos. Pat couldnīt get out of there quick enough!! The town was so rich from silver that they used to make coins for Bolivia and Spain, now Bolivian coins are made in Spain!! We had a tour of the coin making factory, which was amazing. They would flatten the silver with a wooden wheel that was drawn by a horse!! Then later by steam driven machines. In the 1500īs Potosi was a bigger and richer town than London or Paris!!

We then went to Sucre, which is probably the prettiest city in Bolivia and saw 5000 amazing dinasour footprints. The roads in Bolivia then quickly deteriorated and Pat put Belinda and the luggage on the bus and had some fun in the dirt!!

Next we were off on a 4 day tour of the salt flats out of Uyuni. We had a really good group and the salt flats- largest in the world were amazing, but it was absolutely freezing and very rustic accomodation!! Try 50 people sharing 2 toilets in minus zero temperatures for fun!! We then hopped on the train, bike and all, to Argentina and civilization!!

Things about Bolivia:
- It is very much third world with bad roads, bad food, bad sanitary conditions (Belinda had stomach cramp`s for 1 week) & bad fuel (78 octanes only).
- Most of the country is over 3,500m, so it is very cold, especially at night; but spectacular scenery.
- When a vehicle breaks down they put rocks behind the wheels to keep it from rolling back and drive off and leave them on the road, so we play dodgem rocks often!!
- The beds generally bow in the middle, so we both end up crawling out of the middle of the bed with bad backs in the morning.
- Generally the prices were higher than Peru and the standard less.
- In La Paz we had a double visa withdrawal on the one day and only withdrew once! Hopefully the Commonwealth Bank in Australia will sort it out soon and recredit our account.
- Many of our friends got spat on as a method of being pick pocketed in La Paz.
- It is very much like Tibet- stunning mountainous scenery but not much infrastructure if you want to go off the beaten track.

Posted by at October 21, 2002 08:50 PM GMT
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