One of the former richest cities in the world, Potosi, still has much to offer even in our days. Located at around 4,000 meters above sea level, the city gained its famed wealth between the 16th and 19th centuries due to the exploitation of silver in its neighbouring mountains. However, all this wealth did come at a price – slavery. Natives and slaves from Africa worked in the harsh mountain environments mining silver and tin for hundreds of years, and their pains were not forgotten here. Even in our age, those working in remaining mines face just as harsh conditions as in the previous centuries. The wealth of the city remains as a stigma in Potosi, a city which now possess only a small fraction of all it had before.
The not taken tour and not seen museum
One of the reasons for which many visit Potosi is to tour the mines. An almost 10 year old documentary, The Devil’d Miner, is played in many coffee shops in both Sucre and Potosi. I chose not to see it at this time, yet I plan to after my adventure.
Here is the youtube link for it: The Devil’s Miner
I also chose not to visit the mines at this time. As a claustrophobic I need much preparation and thought put into a trip that would take me for hours on dark and narrow pathways under the weight of a mountain. One day maybe I’ll be able to.
I was planning to visit the “Casa de la Moneda” museum in Potosi, but I ran out of time and did not get a chance to. As a previous minting place for coins, the museum hold a large variety of them accompanied by stories from Bolivia’s history. One day maybe I’ll get another chance to visit it. I’ll add this to my list of many reasons why to revisit Bolivia.
Hot-spring in the mountains
Just 30 minutes away from Potosi and hidden up in the mountains, the Tarapaya Hot Springs awaited for us on the warm afternoon we had here. A crater of 50 meters deep with water warm as the summer ocean, Tarapaya is a jewel among all the emptiness of the mountain rocks.
We explored the city a little bit. We didn’t have much time but we did discover that Potosi has delicious Salteñas (similar to empanadas), cathedrals with architecture rooted in European heritage, and celebrations full of fireworks and excitement.
For me Potosi was a place of resting and less exploring, and mostly a place where I had the opportunity to stand still and put some order in my thoughts. I’m happy I took that short break from the outside world, as what came next required more energy than I expected – the Salt Flats and deserts of Bolivia