Potosi

It had been a pretty hectic and sleepless couple of days and while we both had really enjoyed our trip across the salt flats we were keen to get to Potosi, our next destination, as quickly as possible.
Having been dumped rather unceremoniously in the street in Uyuni we quickly found the “bus station.” Not so much a bus station as an area where the buses left from and rather than shops with signs there were ladies outside shouting destinations over and over. We bought our tickets after a bit of haggling and then caught the bus to Potosi. Certainly not the standard of bus we have become accustomed to but it got us to our destination.
Our arrival in both Uyuni and Potosi made us both realize very quickly that Bolivia was certainly a different kettle of fish to the other countries we have visited in South America. The main difference being that the people have a more ethnic look that seems to have been bred out of the other countries so far. While we didn’t look out of place in Argentina we stuck out like (very tall) sore thumbs here.
Potosi has been a truly excellent and unique experience. We have not seen too many other tourists which has been a nice change from the last few days. The city was once the richest in the world in the 1600’s according to the locals as the mountain behind the city was filled with silver. Unfortunately the locals who worked the mine then and still today work in some of the harshest conditions imaginable and never saw the wealth. 
The main feature of the town has been the beautiful old cobbled streets and the markets, and we have spent most of our time here recovering and walking around the town. As we are at 4100m above sea level that has at times been a chore. We found out Potosi is the second highest settlement with over 100,000. The highest is El Alto which is right beside LaPaz. It’s very strange that we are going to be going to do a ski season and I think we will be in the minority of visitors who will be enjoying the fact that we are at a lower altitude!!
Like I said we spent most of the time wandering around town soaking up the atmosphere. The markets were great as they were not for tourists and therefore were full of stores selling just about anything we would go to a supermarket for. We did giggle when we bought some shower gel from the shampoo and soap store!!
The other unique factor about the markets is that you can browse to your hearts content without being hassled by the market stall owners. In fact it is up to you to initiate the buying process which is actually quite nice.
The people here so far have looked on first impression fairly unfriendly, but I think it is more of a facial feature than anything else. Because even with our terrible Spanish (we are learning, but slowly) once we start a conversation they have been extremely warm and welcoming and we have even got a few to smile here and there!!!
We have very much enjoyed the company of Thibaut and Lucie while we have been here and have managed to go out for a couple of bites to eat with them which has been great!! It’s wonderful to meet a couple where the conversation flows so easily and time passes too quickly, hopefully we will meet up with them again!!
The best night we had (for me) was at the markets where we got to eat at variety of stalls and had empanadas, soup, a bowl of assorted delights and strips of beef heart with potatoes. Delicious. We then found a local bar where we spent a great evening just chatting and sipping some Bolivian wine (the second bottle is better than the first) T

   
The local ladies selling their wares in Uyuni.

 
The interior courtyard at our hotel, it did promise private parking, but it was quite crazy seeing the cars in there.  Still a great place to stay for a couple of days.

   
Some locals relaxing in the main square

 
The hustle and bustle and the colours of the buildings were just fantastic.

   
The local supermarket! Below some more of the feel of the town of Potosi, while not a magnificently unique sight it will certainly always have a place in our hearts.

    
   

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