Think your job is hard…?

Then try mining for silver in Bolivia!

In Potosi we had the opportunity to visit the local silver mines to experience what life is like for miners in Bolivia. Just before leaving Sucre we watched a movie called “The Devils Miner“, which gave us some background on just how hard life can be, especially for orphaned children in mining towns.

Basically life is grim. The people in these towns are generally very poor, and even more so in the mining communities. You even get young teenage kids working the mines to support their families, which is really heartbraking. They have to buy all their own equipment, and unless they are first class miners (bosses of cooperatives) they wont get medical compensation, which is a bummer as after a few years of working the mines you start to get silicosis in your lungs. On a good day miners can expect to earn about 3GBP per day. Kids still work the mines, on out tour we saw two 14 year old boys pushing a heavy mining cart down in the tunnels. It is back breaking work, we were sweating and panting just from going around the mine for an hour or two, and the miners spend 8 hours a day there!

Each mine also has a Tio, which is a statue of a kind of devil to which the miners give offerings so that the devil doesnt kill them in the mines. Quite scary, even worse than some bosses I have had!

Despite all that we really thought the tour was worth taking, you get to buy presents for the miners (Coca leaves, cigarettes, snacks, and DYNAMITE!!), you get to crawl around tiny tunnels and see how they follow the veins to extract minerals (silver, zinc, lead), and in the end we got to detonate some dynamite. Fun!

Pictures to follow as soon as possible, its just that the connections after Brazil have gotten really slow, so we dont have time to upload them. But we will try!!