Gators and Pink Dolphins

image

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury

Pampas de Santa Rosa

After my rumble in the jungle, I decided on some pamper in the pampas, and signed on to a 3 day tour.  The plan includes a 3 hr jeep ride on rough roads from Rurre to Santa Rosa, and a few hour boat ride to one of the many lodges on stilts in this marsh/swamp/mangrove universe. My tour group of great young folks in their 20s included 3 Taiwanese women (a first on this trip), 2 Dutch women, 2 German guys, and a half Indonesian Englishman.  We ate together, swam, fished and toured in our boat as a team.  I felt great being on this tour, as you must have transport to the huge swamp, a boat, place to stay, food to eat, etc. and the only reasonably priced way to go is a tour (around $100 inclusive).

The huge 155 square km pampas is bayou swamp with increasing concentrations of bird and animal life as the dry season climaxes with fewer water holes for the masses.  In a couple of months, jaguars and pumas will join the party for easy hunting.

image image

The great number of  very diverse water fowl was exciting to experience. Add in caiman up to 20 ft long, their smaller cousins (jacarea?), monkeys (mainly red howlers), pink dolphins, snakes (including anaconda, and a poisonous one that can kill you in an hour we saw plenty of)….now this is more like the jungle I’m used to!  I was the first overboard to swim with the dolphins, despite the many piranhas present…apparently the piranhas are as friendly as the dolphins as they have plenty of non-humans to eat.

image image

 

image      I apologize for having to crop to fuzzy, but will get you a link to quality photos shortly.  Also, no shots of the many dolphins we saw as they surface very quickly.  Can anyone help me identify the rare, large red/black faced bird directly below, and find a good pic?

 

.imageb  image

 

 

 

 

We went fishing for piranhas, and our guide and this boy caught a dozen and a turtle, but we caught none!

We went fishing for piranhas, and our guide and this boy caught a dozen and a turtle, but we caught none!

There were a bunch of Israeli guys staying at the lodge with our group, and I got to know some of them.  Seems the IDF had imparted great amounts of testosterona as these guys were willing to climb, jump, or venture anywhere under any conditions.  One of the guys is still numb in his foot from climbing a glacier, but glad he did it.  His GoPro has a shot of him jumping over a huge waterfall clearing the crushing/drowing water, but not far enough to smash himself on the rocks below!  Apparently, an Israeli born guy in La Paz specializes is these “some make it, some don´t” trips that make my adventures very tame indeed.  This is the first  travel for most of them, and they enjoyed hearing from “the old guy who says he’s been to 63 countries.”

Could go on about others I met but won´t…here are more shots from the swamp…boy did I miss our good camera…you may not recognize the capybara below.
image image

This guy was hanging out just below my room, and after a sunset beer I was a bit tipsy walking on the railless planks!

This guy was hanging out just below my room, and after a sunset beer I was a bit tipsy walking on the railless planks!

image image

I fell in love with these playful, squirrel monkeys:

image image image   image

Here are some great shots from others…we saw much of this–you´ll love the pink dolphins:

Great Pampas Photos!

More photos…bird focus

Time to move on to Peru, and with the rain coming down I made plane reservations rather than go by bus back to La Paz.  Stay tuned!

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

Advertisements

Serpents and Jaguars

 

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

image

Bolivian Jungle-Madidi National Park

From the cold, dry, oxygen starved towering capital to hot, heavy, humid air in 50 minutes. welcome to the jungle.  I’d planned on the 20 to 30 hr bus ride on the beautiful, “most dangerous road on earth” over the Andes to the jungle, but heavy rains in past days discouraged me.  A discounted air fare sealed the deal. Perhaps if the weather improves, I will try it as others have said it took only 14 hrs.  Besides the worst parts of the road have been circumvented by new road, and are used by only mountain bikers.

Rurrenabaque is the take-off town for jungle and pampas tours for 95% of travelers.  There are approximately 30 travel agencies in Rurre, sporting mostly the same tours to the same locations.  The common jungle tour is a couple hours up the Rio Beni for 2 nights/3days.  This option held little appeal for me, considering the many months I’ve lived in the jungles of Africa, Mexico, Central and So America. Rurre is a jungle tourist town, but has a definite culture and beat of it´s own.  As in La Paz, quite a contrast in lifestyles and dress, with the heat dictating tank tops for most.

A Rurre fashion show

A Rurre fashion show

Brazilian rock concert in Rurre on river

Bolivian rock concert in Rurre on river

Aymara woman in yellow swings with the best of them.

Aymara woman in yellow swings with the best of them.

 

Ferry lands in Rurre from the other side of Rio Beni in Buenaventura.

Ferry lands in Rurre from the other side of Rio Beni in Buenaventura.

Couple gazes out at Beni

Gazing out at Beni

Had tea with them.  Mom Ligia asked if I needed a wife, with her daughter Narcissa in mind!

Had tea with them. Mom Ligia asked if I needed a wife, with her daughter Narcissa in mind!

Hebrew signs every-where, as Rurre is a major destination for Israelis.

Hebrew signs everywhere, as Rurre is a major destination for Israelis. An Israeli got lost, almost died in Madidi, and wrote a book about it

Below are 2 pics out my door in the hotel I stayed in…quiet and comfy for $6 per night!  Needless to say, Bolivia is a very cheap country in which to travel.  I often stay in hostels, but opt for private rooms when possible.  Young folks tend to party too much for me.

image  image

 

I set my sites on a small, isolated, indigenous village in cental Maddidi Natl Park.  The problem is getting there.  I decided against a long, expensive, hard to find river route, and took off on the rough ride to Tumapasa, hoping to hike or motorbike over the mountains to the pueblo of San Jose de Umpiamonas.  Tumapasa is 32 km/20 mi from San Jose.

On the way to Tumapasa, our minibus driver got distracted by his small boy next to him and crashed the van off the road.  The locals were screaming in terror, but nobody was hurt.  Fortunately, no trees or cliffs, but the van was now inoperable.  I hitched a ride the rest of the way to town.

The driver´s boy was sitting between him and me in front.

The driver´s boy was sitting between him and me in front, dozed off and fell backwards.

The kids falls back between seat, dad reaches to pick  him up, and runs the van totally off the road.

Dad reaches to pick
him up, and runs the van totally off the road.

A rough road to Tumapasa with many rivers to cross and some cliffs.

A rough road to Tumapasa with many rivers to cross and some cliffs.

 

Cattle rule on the road

Cattle rule on the road

I stayed in Tumapasa a couple days to check out my options into Madidi and enjoyed the small pueblo. There is a tree near my room here that is home to hundreds of Tojo and Aymarista birds.  The large beautiful, yellow winged Tojo creatures make a raucus at dawn and at sunset after their all day hunting expeditions.  I love watching their departure and return when they fill the sky!  The aging couple sleep well during the night but grandma complains of the noise.

Very odd to be the only traveler in town, after many weeks on the traveller circuit.  I met Tanner, a Coloradan now a local after some years of running a puma/jaquar recovery center here…that wildlife refuge is matched  only by one in Africa he visited.   He said it was very unusual to see travelers here, as few make it beyond Rurre.  He introduced me to his buddy Teddy, raised in this area as were his parents, grandparents, etc., who took me into the surrounding jungle.  Tanner was living up his name, buying salt to cure the skin of a huge, 10 foot bushmaster he killed and ate.  He hates aggressive, poisonous snakes since his Colorado boyhood, and killed it with a big stick.  There also is a green snake with the capability of flattening it’s entire body on the ground and launching itself long distances to strike it’s victim.   Some shots from my time with Teddy, including some odd fungi.

Tanner and guide buddy Teddy.

Tanner and guide buddy Teddy.

 

 

imageimageimage imageimageimage

 

 

 

image image

Allan and Allan...his good-looking mom kept calling my name, but paying me no attention when I looked at her.

Allan and Allan…his good-looking mom kept calling my name, but paying me no attention when I looked at her.  Finally, I noticed the Allan of her attention!

Even truckers are Che fans!

Even truckers are Che fans!

But I am totally perplexed why Hollister, California is all the rage here…on tons of t-shirts, pants, etc.  Nobody can answer why it`s so popular, and folks are shocked when I tell them there´s not much at all to rave about in Hollister.  Apparently, the company is owned by Abercrombe and Fitch!

image  image

Girls carrying this for bull head soup!

Girls carrying this bundle for bull head soup!

I decided that the 20 plus mile, mountain hike was too much to chance making in one day, and the motocycle taxis are afraid the road is too muddy to pass.  There is no food or sleep shelter on the way.  So I’m hoping that the past couple dry days will make it possible to get a mototaxi for at least part of the way in the morning.  The road is cleared and you can’t get lost, so I feel ok about doing the trip.  I have only essentials in my day pack to carry, and I have a lighter and matches to make fire if I need to sleep out in the jungle at night in an emergency.  That said, I hope to meet up with locals doing the walk so I’m not on my own.

Still, I had the feeling that this may be one of those bad decisions for which I am rather infamous among family and friends.  Said so long to Tanner, who left the next day on his journey to Colorado, and had dinner and a couple beers with Teddy and his son.  Have a ride for at least part of the way to S. Jose at 6:30 AM in morning, so will miss the Tumapasa fiesta de Corpus Christi featuring teams trying to climb a 65 foot greased poll!

Franc, my mototaxi driver

Franc, my mototaxi driver

Dawn before hitting the mountains

Dawn before hitting the mountain pass

Franc took me a couple miIes in before the mud turned him back.  I hiked, sloshed, and slid my way for several hours straight, thinking I was setting a good pace as I could breathe well in the cool morning, low altitude oxygenated air. Seemed all that Andes hiking was paying off.  I was sure I was going to run into at least one snake, and had in mind the 10 foot bushmaster Tanner had killed–so was on high alert.  I kept stopping to look for birds and monkeys, but this was the most eerily silent jungle experience I ever had. The thick growth, beautiful colors, and butterflies were exhilarating, making up for the lack of birds and animals.

But I kept my eyes on the path to assure I saw any creatures, and to make sure each step was as solid as possible.  I wanted no twisted ankles, as the promised locals trekking to and from San Jose were non-existent, and I was beginning to feel rather vulnerable.  After a few hours of trudging through mud with my very old keen sandals, I attempted to ford a particularly large mud hole on a narrow tree.  I slipped in my muddy sandals and fell into the mud pit, now looking like a defeated mud wrestler.

I had been warned about packs of wild boars that can get aggressive, so kept my eyes peeled.  But nobody bothered to tell me, until I got to San Jose, that the locals travel in groups. Seems that they fear jaguars that can occasionally, though rarely, get hungry for whatever is passing by!

After about 4 hours I took a breakfast break at one of the many river crossings, and washed my clothes and back pack a little.  First can of sardines and bread. A very old man with not quite straight legs and a walking stick came up on the road I´d just travelled.  He´d also come from Tumapasa, and had just caught up with me.  We exchanged greetings, and he proceeded on to leave me in the dust.  I tried to catch up with him to have company, but I never saw him again.  I fashioned myself a walking stick, which was helpful in steadying myself in the mud, and measuring the depth.

Tree cutter ants can denude a large tree in no time!

Tree cutter ants can denude a large tree in no time!

A typical mud hole taking up the entire road.

A typical mud hole taking up the entire road.

My sandals would get sucked off 2 feet below the surface.l

My sandals would get sucked off 2 feet below the surface!

image image image image

I met a Chilean/German couple and their guide who were camping near a river, and we had a good chat about the area, travel, etc.

Then came the monsoon that made the road even slicker.  I hid out under a tree.  I was pushing myself to a faster pace as the sun was moving quickly across the sky and I did not want to be out there at night. Then the insects, especially the sand fleas came on to my bare legs, as I couldn´t cover them due to the mud and river crossings.

Just a sample of what happens when you´re the only meal available!

Just a sample of what happens when you´re the only meal available!

Directly ahead was something that looked like a thin tree branch with the edge sticking up a foot off the ground.  As I got closer, I became suspicious…I poked the stick, which turned out to be a jet black 5 foot serpent.  It was not aggressive and seemed to fly into the bush at a shockingly high speed…had it come at me that quickly I´d have been toast.

image  image

A quick, late lunch of sardines and bread at another river, and off again.  By this time the heat and humidity was pressing down on me, my legs and shoulders were getting sore, my pace slackened, I was paying less attention to the path, which seemed absolutely endless, and was beginning to wonder if this was one of my worst decisions.  The sun was starting to set, the insects came on fierce, and I kept looking at the muddy road wondering where I would sleep if it got dark.  Suddenly, I heard something big following me, wheeled around, and saw a man with a big machete and rifle.  His demeanor was initially hard to read, but it became clear he was friendly.  He assured me that San Jose was near, but that it was uphill…a very punishing climb in my exhausted state.  He patiently led the way for me, allowed a rest stop which I clearly needed, and we finally made it to the pueblo.

Mario told me there were only families to stay with and no restaurants…and there was not much at all to buy in the store.  I found a family with a decent bed available.  The father (Don Juan) was quiet and hard to understand.  I shared a room with one of his 2 boys at home.  Turned out the mom was in very bad shape with a painful leg.  The leg was too sore to walk on for over 2 weeks, but was not numb, discolored or swollen.  She said the pain came from the inside.  There was no medic in town, and I presumed it was some type of circulatory problem or infection, and encouraged them to get her by boat to Rurre to get a diagnosis and treatment.

"Central Plaza" of San Jose.

“Central Plaza” of San Jose.

Horse eating Central Plaza

Horse eating Central Plaza

Building a new house in San Jose--doing thatched roof.

Building a new house in San Jose–doing thatched roof.

 

Not sure of my family´s religious persuasion, but this was being used for toilet paper (on floor of outhouse)

Not sure of my family´s religious persuasion, but this was being used for toilet paper (on floor of outhouse)

I participated in teacher appreciation day in the village…

image  image

 

I searched the village and inquired with one of the few “upscale” homes with a TV (only 3 in the village) about getting a meal or 2.  They were very friendly and invited me to come twice a day for food, which they cooked regularly.  My family did not seem to eat with any regularity.  The village and surroundings were similar to what I’d hiked through.  When I asked where all the birds and animals were, they said that before this became a National Park 20 years ago it was heavily hunted and animals retreated further into the jungle.  They still hunt, but “only for consumption” which explains the lack of fauna.

Unfortunately, there were only sporadic boats to Rurre from the river port (30 minute walk from the pueblo), and I was intent on NOT doing the hike back to Tumapasa.  With no agreement on when the boats come and go, I got wind of one after a couple days in San Jose.  Decided to take it, and waited at the river port.  The man initially said his boss told him not to take travellers.  After showing no inclination to get off the boat, letting him know that I really needed to get the ride with him, and offering to pay the going rate, he conceded to take me.  He turned out to be a very nice man, and we had a good trip back. After a few hours, we stopped at a vacant ecolodge with a fully equipped kitchen.  Apparently, Juan Carlos was used to hanging out there after bringing folks in, and the caretaker was gone a couple days.   I cooked us a great dish with all the veggies and spices there…they even had ground parmesan cheese in the freezer!

Oh, about the Jaquars…I did run into 2 large, beautiful ones about 50 feet away from me…but fortunately they were on the shore and I was on the boat back to Rurre.  I was so excited that I zoomed in too far and got only shots of leaves while standing on the small, shakey boat!

As always, I urge you to take a few minutes and look at pics from real photographers, including a large jaguar about the size of the 2 I saw: Much better pics of Madidi!

 

“When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.” – D. H. Lawrence

 

 

 

 

 

La Paz–City of Many Faces

 

 

 

 

Allan trying to match steps with each dance troupe--a crowd pleaser

Allan trying to match steps with each dance troupe–             a crowd pleaser at Gran Poder, largest fiesta of year

 

La Paz is the Manhattan of what I’ve seen in So. America.  You can count cars to 15 and never see a private automobile; pure taxis, buses and combis.   Chik cafes, shops and restaurants along the Prado assure you lose track of the fact you’re in S. America.  Traditionally dressed Aymara and Quechua mixed with smartly dressed business people, mingling with young folks desperate to be avante guard.  Poor barrios, beggars and homeless on the street…like any town in the U.S.

I’ve been watching people closely, and it is clear to me that the likelihood of traditional dress lasting another generation in the cities is slim.  It is too clear that acculturization of the youth into the euro/american stylistic ethos is rampant.  Young folks so want to be cool and hip.  So rather than my banter, how about a couple pics to tell the story?

 

image                                                                      image imageimage

 

I ran into Annie, covered in tats and piercings and wearing her autumn skimp, in the park playing with her dog.  I stuttered a greeting and introduction in Spanish, and she replied that she spoke English if I’d rather.  We had a long conversation about our lives…ok, Annie is NOT typical La Paz youth, as she was born in LA where she’s lived most her life.  Her U.S. born dad and Bolivian mom got hit in the crash/depression, lost their home, and moved here.   She is an artist, set developer, and lover of her fringe lifestyle.  Annie admits to covering up when walking with her mom, so as not to embarass her.

 

Toki

Toki

I was excited to meet Toki, a Japanese traveler, in the Folklore and Ethnographic Museum.  I was there most of the afternoon, and noticed her intent focus on the exhibits, especially pottery displays and videos. At one point, we were watching a video of Tiwanaku and she asked me in Spanish if I’d been there.  We spent much of the evening together discussing our travels (Spanish only), experiences, and lives pre-traveling.  She has been a physics teacher, math and English tutor, and now travels and does pottery.  She hopes to sustain herself by selling her pottery.  Toki travels alone for the same reasons I usually do…she disciplines herself to meet and get close to the local people where she’s at.  Toki has also perfected the art of open dependency, leading helpful people to be of assistance, want to communicate with her, and to engage in relationship.

Toki has many stories of those she has met along the way assisting and trusting her, and sharing the intimacies of their lives.  She emphasizes that you must communicate emotions from the heart, which is the key to compassionate human relationship.   Even though she may not understand the words in totality, others can intuit her presence, caring and openness.  We really loved being together, agreed that we were brother and sister, and I had the sense that we could have spent more time together were we not going our separate ways shortly.  In keeping with our styles, we said good-bye with no plans to meet again, yet confident that we would run into eachother along our paths of life.

It has been fun hanging out with Devin, son of my long-time friend Sandi Burnette.  He´s been a student, researcher and activist here and in Peru off and on for about a decade, including being a participant/observer in the development of the new Bolivian Constitution early in the Morales government.  It´s almost like being shown La Paz by a native of the City.  His current project, developing a film documenting the successful movement of Amazon indigenous tribes to block a major road through their lands for timber and oil extraction, is moving along well.  He has support from a very popular Bolivian folk singer, key Bolivian film maker, a major Bolivian muralist, and a grant to help fund the effort!   Heard on the news that the Government is reopening discussion on putting the road through after it being blocked for the past couple years, so Devins work here becomes even more important.

Here are some views of architecture and surrounds of La Paza:

image image image                    image  image            image image                 image

Church of San Francisco from Outside and Inside

Church of San Francisco from Outside and Inside

image  image

Franciscans love that wine!

Franciscans love that wine!

image

 

I love that Bolivians are so commited to their revolutionary politics:

image image

 

Radical Feminists are Strong and Present-  ¨In my bed there is no male boss--I control my body¨

Radical Feminists are Strong and Present- ¨In my bed there is no male boss–I control my body¨

Poster of Indigenous Indian Gathering Organizing Against Genetically Modification

Poster of Indigenous Indian Gathering Organizing Against Genetically Modification

I went on the beautiful, new teleferico (gondola transit system).  Here are some shots from above:

image image

image image

image

If you´d like to see more and better pics of this amazing city built in a crater, thei highest captal in the world, check out:

https://www.google.com.bo/search?q=pictures+la+paz,+bolivia&espv=2&biw=770&bih=468&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=WBppVZvKF4TksAXUlYDYBw&ved=0CBsQsAQ&dpr=1

When I got to the teleferico top in El Alto, a separate city above La Paz housing mostly the poorer, more indigenous residents of the area, I was told there was not much to see or do.  So I wandered a couple blocks down a street and was about to turn-around and return, when I spied a museum.  Freddie at the entrance desk seemed surprised that I really wanted to see his museum, and acted like I was the first person in weeks to enter.  He offered to show me around, and quickly left his post at the door.  Though the museum said it closes for lunch and siesta at noon, Freddie stayed with me for 2 hours (1:30P) telling me about all the pieces in the great, 3 story museum.  I loved the sculpture, history, and militant paintings.

There was one painting that Freddy pointed out you can smell the roses at all times, and feel some air or energy pass to your hands when you put them near the painting.  The painting was of a beautiful woman that reminded me of my sister in law who recently died.  Her name was Aurora, and she possessed a sensitivity, knowledge, brilliance, and capabilities beyond which most normally have Access …somehow I wasn´t surprised when Freddy told me the painting was entitled Aurora!

Aurora

Aurora

Freddy and I really liked eachother, shut down the museum and I treated him to a long lunch.  Here are a sample of the pics:

Freddy

Freddy

image                                                image  image                                                   imageimage                  image image image

Look closely...made of leaves

Look closely…made of leaves

When proprietor saw me taking photo, I told him I liked the idea of being able to make a phone call, buy my ice cream, die and be embalmed in same store!

When proprietor asked about me taking photo, I told him I liked the idea of being able to make a phone call, eat my ice cream, die and be embalmed in same store!

I also visited the ruins of the major city of the Tiwanaku civilization, and got immersed as if reliving the era with them.  Though they are acknowledged generally to have been in power here for around 1000 years ending in around 1100AD, some say they were here as early as 15,000 BC!  Some believe that the amazing Tiwanaku architects designed Machu Pichu for the Incas.  Here are some pics of my wanderings through their physical remains of their immensely spiritual society:

image image

image imageimage imageimage

Monoliths/tótems were in

Monoliths/tótems were in

 

Hole Works as Magnificent Megaphone

Hole Works as Magnificent Megaphone

 

I also enjoyed the museums on the site:

image image image

 

image image

If you want to know more about the tiwanakus and/or see much better pics:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiwanaku

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=tiwanaku+photos&qpvt=tiwanaku+photos&qpvt=tiwanaku+photos&FORM=IQFRML

On the way to Tiwanaku, visited the mammoth La Paz cemetary in El Alto…really a city in itself with detailed maps, apartment like mausoleums, and endless streets.  I love cemetaries, as they tell lots of stories about people, and are quiet, safe places to sleep, generally (tho not camping this trip).

image

image image image

Jesús well preserved all these years in cemetary chapel

Jesús well preserved all these years in cemetary chapel

 

In La Paz I wandered through their historical and ethnographic museums:

Loved these potos from early last century

Loved these photos from early last century

image                               image

image                                                 image image                                  image

 

Many masks displayed

Many masks displayed

image image

 

image image

My favorite La Paz Street near museums--Juen

My favorite La Paz Street near museums–Juen

image

 

And finally, the Grand Poder, the largest and most splendiforous celebration of the year in La Paz.  It is an amazing meld of pre-Columbian spirituality and christianity morphed into an eye-popping, colorful event full of costumes, music, dancing, drinking and feasting until you drop.  La Paz swells to host millions from all over.  I couldn´t even begin to capture the beauty:

Allan trying to match steps with each dance troupe--a crowd pleaser

Allan trying to match steps with each dance troupe–a crowd pleaser

 

8 hours watching dance troupes go by, with Devin and Susanna.  3 more hours to go!

8 hours watching dance troupes go by, with Devin and Susanna. 3 more hours to go!

image                                                    image image image image                                  image image         image image

65 dance troupes and most with own band!

65 dance troupes and most with own band!

 

Getting pretty drunk by now along with a million others!

Getting pretty drunk by now along with a million or 2 others!

Take a minute and look at these pics and video to see more Poder:

https://www.google.com.bo/search?q=gran+poder,+la+paz&espv=2&biw=1024&bih=677&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=Nx1pVYP4HcnYsAWH_IBI&ved=0CB4QsAQ&dpr=1+

I´m now off to the jungle for awhile in Madidi National Park…don´t expect to be around computers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potosi-Centuries of Exploitation

Cerro Rico, Potosi Mine

Cerro Rico, Potosi Mine

The sad history of human and mother earth exploitation over the centuries within Cerro Rico includes the loss of an estimated 8 million slave lives (major African slave workforce, until the Spanish concluded they died in this freezing area too quickly to be profitable),  wars, and inestimable pollution.  Quechua, Inca, Spanish, and governments took turns using others to exploit the hill.

Around 500 years of mining producing incalcuable wealth, including the main support of the Spanish empire for many decades.  For over 60 years, miner cooperatives have run the mines, and health conditions including lung disease (silicosis) have not markedly improved.  The life span of the miner is 35-45 y.o., and as many as 20 hrs straight can be spent in the mines.  Those I spoke with say it is more like 8-10 hrs in 2 shifts.  They chew coca constantly, smoke, and drink 190 proof so-called whiskey that tastes like acid.  I never cease to be amazed what the working person will endure to support their families.

Potosi developed as the support town for the mining, refining, shipping, and making of coins/silver manufacturing. as well as housing and other needed infrastructure.  For those wanting more history of Potosi, check out:

http://www.boliviabella.com/history-of-potosi.html

Potosi

Potosi

The hill that has made centuries of history...Cerro Rico

The hill that has made centuries of history…Cerro Rico

Miners using rail cart to carry out ore.

Miners using rail cart to carry out ore.

Guy I met hand pounding hole for dynamite

Guy I met hand pounding hole for dynamite

Miner cooperative meeting.

Miner cooperative meeting.

God of mines, Tio, with many offerings for wealth and safety.  Clearly a potent character, eh?

God of mines, Tio, with many offerings for wealth and safety. Clearly a potent character, eh?

Ore refinery

Ore refinery

Equipment repairs

Equipment repairs

Refining in sludge pits

Refining in sludge pits

This product dries in these pits, and still needs further refining to separate metals (tin, lead, zinc, silver)

This product dries in these pits, and still needs further refining to separate metals (tin, lead, zinc, silver)

View of Potosi from Cerro Rico mines

View of Potosi from Cerro Rico mines

Check out Linda Xiao graphic pictures and description of what it is like down in the mines, and more history of the mines.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-xiao/the-mines-of-potosi-boliv_b_1349295.html

I enjoyed several days in Potosi with my French friends, including:

Parades!

Parades!

Lots of very cute kids!

Lots of very cute kids!

Street art

Street art

Always people watching

Always people watching

image

Flower Lady

Flower Lady

Dancing and folkloric art

Dancing and folkloric art

image

image

image

 

My favorite market soup kitchen and cook/owner for 17 years!

My favorite market soup kitchen and cook/owner for 17 years!

image

My chicken soup slurping buddy!

My chicken soup slurping buddy!

Argentina's favorite export to Bolivia--as many hippies as possible

Argentina’s favorite export to Bolivia–as many hippies as possible.  Jugglers at intersections.

Museums, including this one at the old mint

Museums, including this one at the old mint

Depiction of horse-drawn iron plate manufacturing machine

Depiction of horse-drawn iron plate manufacturing machine

Old machine used to make coins from sheets for Spanish empire

Old machine used to make coins from sheets for Spanish empire

image

Sample of silver pots

Sample of silver pots

Church in old mint

Church in old mint

Mummies in church

Mummies in church

image

Replica of Spanish ship transporting silver to empire

Replica of Spanish ship transporting silver to empire

Snow covered peak near Potosi.

Snow covered peak near Potosi.

For more and better photos of Potosi:

https://www.google.com/search?q=pictures+of+potosi&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=cVJnVb68AseWNufogYgL&ved=0CDIQ7Ak&biw=1024&bih=642

I had planned to go to Sucre next, and to a remote village near there.  However, a 7 day water supply problem and disease outbreaks discouraged me.  So, goodbye to my French buddies, and off to La Paz to join Devin for awhile!