QuickPeek: Walking. Tourism.
We came into Potosi at an elevation of about 4000m. I thought the thin air might be a bit of a bother, but apart from a little bit of shortness of breath, it was not too bad. We took a collectivo from the terminal into the town where we had a recommendation for a cheap but nice hostel. We found the spot easily and we were showed to a really pretty space with a view of Cerro Rico. Aptly named as it was at one point the most prodigious silver mine on the planet. Surprisingly, mining is still going on these days and a lot more minerals are being exploited.
The store I had read about Potosi was that the wealth was plundered during the Spanish occupation and a lot of the silver was exported to Europe. The people who decided to settle here got abnormally rich and built palacial houses and cathedrals and the town was filled with them. I had seen numerous churches along the way where the local loot was in lavish display (though just a small portion of the actual plunder) and was keen on taking a look around in this town too.
Apart from the pollution from the diesel buses and trucks, I was pretty surprised how clean and reasonably organized this town was, that too for an active mining place!! I guess the presence of incredible amount of tourism contributed to them getting their act together and making sure mining does not look too ugly. The hostel we were at had a terrace which overlooked the Cerro Rico. One could see the trucks moving in and out of the hill and though the mountain is an active mine, it did make for a pretty backdrop for Potosi.
True to its reputation, there were tons of churches and pretty much every house in the historic center was pretty much a mansion. One could see huge courtyards and numerous wings when stepping in. However, we were not too lucky to see the churches much as they had converted pretty much all of them into museums and carged a pretty ridiculous entry fee. Duh. We however walked about and enjoyed looking at the artistic facades.
Walking in the evening was a lot of fun as there was lesser traffic and fewer people on the streets and exploring the narrow labyrinthine walkways was a lot of fun. Climbing up and down was a bit of an effort given I was not too acclimatised to the conditions, but it was still nice to walk about. Food was a bit of a problem as the hostel had a really tiny kitchen which seemed to be over used and I decided to stick to cold foods mostly. I made sandwiches and pretty much ate them for every meal here.
It was interesting being in Potosi, the early morning cold was a bit shocking and I’ve heard that heading towards Uyuni, things probably got a lot worse. Brrr. Lets hope the clothes I have will be sufficient enough.
Track NotesExpenses: SG$ 27.80
Comments: Night walking in Potosi is a lot of fun.