November 12, 2009

Day 221 : Potosi

While I was in Sucre I watched the documentary film The Devil's Miner. It was eye opening to say the least. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. When I reached Potosi I had to make the decision whether or not I should visit the actual mine. After an internal debate I decided to go in, hoping that my presence and presents (a bag of "Miner Goods" like coca leaves, dynamite, biscuits, etc.) could potentially brighten the day of a Miner Man or two. Potosi is claimed to be the highest city in the world. It's most definitely a blue color city that is more or less solely dependent on it's natural resources found in the mountains.
Government Miner Housing more or less adjacent to the primary mining site.
Before I entered the mine I was greeted by a young boy, maybe 10 years old or so, that wanted to sell me some of his stones. He had the brightest smile and most sincere stare. And his hands amazed me, they were so wrinkled and worn even though he was only 10 years old. Boys begin working in the mines at the age of 12 and may work up to 12 hour shifts, both day and night. The younger children and wives of miners tend to related jobs outside of the mine, like sorting through scraps, selling stones, guarding the mine entrance, etc.
A Miner Man hunches over his pile of rubble, sifting through it in search of silver...
Inside the mine it was dark (obviously), damp and dusty. There were statues of Pachamama and Tio, which the Miners pray to multiple times, daily.

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