Monday, March 28, 2011

Dizzying Potosi

At 4090m/13400ft Potosi is the highest city in the world. The altitude is unmistakable. It is cold everywhere unless the sun is shining directly. The air is thin, but not enough for our hard drive to give out (new geeky knowledge for us). We went around at about 80% of our normal pace, sucking air. It would not have been so bad, except the air was full of vehicle exhaust from retired Japanese minibuses that clog the narrow downtown streets. They were probably retired because they could not pass emission controls in Japan.

Potosi was never an indigenous town, but founded on silver mining. It was the largest town in the Americas in the 17th century with all the working miners. The wealth of the town, however diminished, is still evident in the numerous churches and colonial houses in a fairly small downtown area. We decided to skip the popular tour of the mines that are still operating today, mostly tin, because of potential safety issues. I was worried enough about altitude, John, blockades; we could do without the poisonous gas and dynamites in the mines.

Potosi sits in the shadow of Cerro Rico, the site of one of the richest silver mines in the world; now kaput.
Cerro Rico - Potosi, Bolivia

For over 300 years, the Casa de Moneda, was the site of a mint. It's now a museum.
Casa de Moneda - Potosi, BoliviaCasa de Moneda - Potosi, Bolivia

We toured the Potosi Cathedral which was under renovation and had some good views from the bell tower.
Cathedral - Potosi, Bolivia

Cathedral - Potosi, Bolivia

View from Cathedral Bell Tower - Potosi, Bolivia

Cathedral Rooftop - Potosi, Bolivia

View of Plaza from Cathedral Bell Tower - Potosi, Bolivia

The elaborate carved stone doorways on decaying buildings are a sign of better days in the past.
Doorway - Potosi, Bolivia

The more quiet back streets were not full of exhaust fumes.
Potosi, Bolivia

The miners and their families march in protest in downtown Potosi.
Protest March - Potosi, BoliviaProtest March - Potosi, Bolivia

We were only in Potosi for one day but managed to find the Manzana Magica Vegetarian Restaurant (Oruro 239) for a very tasty dinner.

Plate - Manzana Magica - Potosi, Bolivia

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