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Old 05-10-2013, 05:40 PM   #466
Romanousky OP
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The first 100 miles were similar to yesterday. High altiplano cruising with little to see except for a sign pointing towards Poopo. And Lago Poopo.



Then into some hills. Broke up the monotony but not too crazy. Lots of red rock similar to Northern Arizona desert. We stopped to chase some Alpacas in a field and found some skulls to decorate the bikes. Boredom was peaking.











Rolled into Potosi early. One of the world’s highest cities at 4,060 meters (13,200’). Scored a very cheap room and roamed the city looking for stickers for the bikes. None to be had here…..will have to wait for Uyuni. Also signed up for the infamous silver mine tour. This should be interesting.





I picked up a mask for the tour tomorrow. Heard it was rather dusty.



This dude was pretty good with an airbrush:



Went out on the town and had some delicious pizza and beer. There was some sort of celebration going on in central park so we snapped some photos and watched the fireworks.









This creepy thing was in the restuarant where we had pizza. The waiter said it was a wolf.

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Old 05-11-2013, 01:16 PM   #467
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Up early, hungover, and ready for a silver mine tour. First we meet the guide…seems like nut job to me. An ex-miner who learned enough English to give tours. First we go over safety, rules, and expectations. None of which are very demanding.

Then we get our gear and dress up. Rubber boots, plastic pants & jacket, hardhat equipped with headlight. Then off we go on the bus to the “Miners Market”.





Basically the guide goes through the items that the miners want and we are expected to purchase “gifts” for them before going to the mine. The top things that they desire are Alcohol (96% pure gasoline rubbing alcohol basically), Coca Leaves for chewing, and Juice (more like carbonated Fanta but they call it juice). You also have the options to purchase dynamite. I have been blowing shit up since I was a small lad (and have gotten better with age) and this is as close to heaven as I can get. The Cost: $3 gets you a pint of rubbing alcohol, 1 liter of “juice”, and a large bag of coca leaves. The next $3 gets you a stick of dynamite, a blasting cap, fuse, and a bag of ammonium nitrate. I’m standing there giggling like a school girl. You are actually going to give me a stick of dynamite and all necessary detonation equipment for $3? Load up the bags!!

The guide filling his face with Coca leaves:



The guide passing around rubbing alcohol for consumption:



The guide attempting to smoke a stick of dynamite:



The shop with all the goodies:



Back in the bus with our booze, dynamite, coca leaves, and juice we head for mine. But first stop for fuel along with all the real miners:



Take some photos overlooking Potosi:



Only about a 10 minute drive up the hill and then we all exit and prepare to enter.



The entrance hole looks sketchy at best:



I have also read that this is one of the most dangerous mines in the world. This mountain made Potosi the largest and richest city in the Americas around 1550 AD. Since then most of the silver has been extracted but the miners continue to works in search of lead, tin, and zinc. The miners do not work for a company. They are on their own and purchase sections of the mountain to dig at will. The mines have never been mapped out and it is believed that it looks like a block of swiss cheese on the inside. It is a well-known fact that it could/will collapse at any time. I’m sure it will hold out one more day for me.







Lubing those bearings:



Inside we hike between the cart tracks on the main passage through a soupy muddy mess for about 10 minutes. Then we pick some awful looking hole to start climbing up. Every other rock you grab hold of on the edge of the cave that is only 3 feet high gives way and pulls free. Half the timbers supporting the roof are cracking and broken. On hands and knees we crawl up the dust filled chute and it gets hotter and hotter the higher we climb. Every now and again we a forced to squeeze through a 2 foot diameter hole to pop out on the other side to see a gravel slide that we must scale. I was last in line on the way up so it was incredibly dusty and rocks would tumble down from our fellow friends above hitting you in the hands and legs. Two of the group have already dropped out saying that this just isn’t for them….only 5 left.











Take a break for the guide to drink some booze:





Finally we arrive where 2 brothers are mining and they inform us that there has been a recent cave in and they are working to clear the passage. We sit down, bullshit, break out the juice, alcohol, and coca leaves. They are all thankful for our gifts. These two have been working in the mine since they were 15 years old. They are now 35. I can’t believe they have survived this long in these conditions.



We sit and poor out liquor for the Diablo (devil), El Dio (God), Amigos, and ourselves…..then drink to good luck. Round and round we go and then we lose another patron. It is hot, humid, very little oxygen. The brothers just broke through a vein of Carbon Monoxide and it is making them sleepy….yeah me too. A few more drinks and we move on.









Finding a new hole to climb up we locate a good place to set off some dynamite. The guide cuts fuses, pulls back the sheaths, fills the detonator with gun powder from the fuse, tears open two sticks of dynamite and wads up the putty into a ball.



Then inserts detonators and drops the wad into a bag of ammonium nitrate. All the while he is drinking sufficient amounts of pure alcohol and asking for cigarettes, dope, anything he can get his hands on.









Then he stands up and lights the fuses to the 2 bombs.



He just stands there asking for more whiskey. We all fight to find a bottle and hand it to him. Two swigs, he hands it back, starts to turn, then ask for just a little bit more. F*ck dude, get away from me with that stuff. You can’t tell how far the fuse has burnt because it is all internal, no sparks or fire on the outside so we have no idea what kind of burn time this 20” of fuse has. Anyway, one more pull and he runs off behind a corner.

He hurry’s back and a few seconds later….KAWAMMY!! The entire mine shakes, the concussion courses through our bodies, and then the dirt/dust starts coming towards us. Epic!! Inside a fricken mine detonating dynamite in the middle of Bolivia. AWESOME!! Now get me outta here.

One of the many Diablo depictions. These one just got a fresh cigarette to keep him appeased:



As you can only imagine Alex has been drinking shot for shot with the guide in some sort of competition. It is clear he is starting to lose. Out of the remaining patrons Alex is the only one who chooses to continue on to a new section of the mine to visit more miners, hand out gifts, and drink more booze. The rest of us, including me, have seen enough and are ready for fresh air.

Outside we suck in the sweet air. It no longer feels like we are at 14,000’ in comparison to the interior of the mine. We wait for about 30 minutes and then the bus loads up. Who knows what Alex and Choco (the guide) are doing but the other guide thinks they can find a ride home. We pull out and get less than an 1/8 mile when we see Choco walking and Alex stumbling down the hillside headed for the bus.



At the hostel we undress and turn in our garmets. I hurry to the room and unload my remaining dynamite. You are not supposed to have this stuff outside of the mine area. Hey, it’s a once in a lifetime thing and I’m going to blow something up. Alex collapses on the bed and passes out. Choco gets ready for the afternoon guiding trip….Wow!



The tour is sketchy to say the least but it is an experience that I will never forget and I do believe that is what counts.
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Old 05-11-2013, 01:54 PM   #468
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Dude- you guys are crazy!
I can only imagine trying to squeeze thru those 2 ft holes on the way out after the dynamite went off!
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Old 05-11-2013, 05:09 PM   #469
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Originally Posted by 46Harley View Post
Dude- you guys are crazy!
I can only imagine trying to squeeze thru those 2 ft holes on the way out after the dynamite went off!
That's what my mother thinks. It was a bit crazy but you can never take that experience away from me.
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Old 05-11-2013, 05:13 PM   #470
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Geared up and got out of town at a reasonable time but not much hurry to only drive 120 miles to Uyuni. The drive was desolate. We snaked through the low mountains with little to look at….red rock, a few formations, and mostly dusty desert.





I was anxious to test some of my dynamite so we pulled off the road a bit and selected one of the hundreds of thousands of cacti to become a victim. Mashed up 2 sticks of the good stuff into a ball and dropped it into a bag of ANFO. Then prepped the fuse and blasting cap. I hiked up a little hill and cut a hole in the side of a 10’ tall cactus. These things are the consistency of the outer rind of a cantelope. I thought I could just a cut a hole and stuff the package inside but it took me a bit to get a nice cubby hole for my present. With that accomplished I lit the fuse and fled back to the bike all geared up and ready to get the hell out of dodge. The explosion shook the entire valley and made quick work of the 1,000+ lb cactus….dropped it like a sack of potatoes. A grin from ear to ear is plastered on my face for the next 50 miles. I love dynamite!!









An hour later we crested a final hill that revealed the solar of Uyuni. A couple photos and we dropped into town. Here early we were able to search out a reasonable place to stay. Hotel Avenida. Cheap place with bike parking. I don’t believe that any hostal or hotel in all of Uyuni has internet access. Rather unfortunate. Checked out town and grabbed some grub. Not much to see or do in the small dusty town of Uyuni. Tomorrow should be interesting on the solar.

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Old 05-11-2013, 06:39 PM   #471
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[QUOTE=Romanousky;21386899]
I was anxious to test some of my dynamite so we pulled off the road a bit and selected one of the hundreds of thousands of cacti to become a victim. Mashed up 2 sticks of the good stuff into a ball and dropped it into a bag of ANFO. Then prepped the fuse and blasting cap. I hiked up a little hill and cut a hole in the side of a 10’ tall cactus. These things are the consistency of the outer rind of a cantelope. I thought I could just a cut a hole and stuff the package inside but it took me a bit to get a nice cubby hole for my present. With that accomplished I lit the fuse and fled back to the bike all geared up and ready to get the hell out of dodge. The explosion shook the entire valley and made quick work of the 1,000+ lb cactus….dropped it like a sack of potatoes. A grin from ear to ear is plastered on my face for the next 50 miles. I love dynamite!!

QUOTE]

You guys rock. Makes me proud to be an Oregonian.
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:06 PM   #472
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Originally Posted by Romanousky View Post
Back in the bus with our booze, dynamite, coca leaves, and juice we head for mine.
Dont need much more for a good mining tour crazy



Been following along since you started and I'm glad you guys are still enjoying yourselves. Thanks so much for taking the time to share.
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Old 05-12-2013, 12:45 AM   #473
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Jj

Mother f'er. Dyno-mite, Good Times my man that's f'in nuts
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Old 05-12-2013, 06:49 AM   #474
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Holy crap, you fuckers are nuts! Dynamite, booze and motorbikes, what more could a fella want? This is what strikes me as interesting. There is no way in hell we could do that here in the states...WAY TOO DANGEROUS! Someone may hurt themselves and we wouldn't want that. Kinda sad really, it's like you guys found the old west down there and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before some bureaucrat puts a stop to all the fun. I think that's why you said this portion of the trip will be remembered forever, maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, fantastic reporting and I can't wait to see what mischief you guys find out on the solar. As always, just living vicariously through you guys! Maybe some day I may get to experience SA but until then...Carry on
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:01 AM   #475
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Ya good mine write up,I don't need to do tour cause you did a good job of making me feel as though I was there with you,what balls you have!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 05-13-2013, 07:29 AM   #476
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Eh? What could possibly go wrong?

Quote:
Back in the bus with our booze, dynamite, coca leaves, and juice we head for mine.
As a friend of mine has been known to say...what could possibly go wrong??!!
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:52 AM   #477
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Epic RR. One question...did a rich uncle die and leave you millions, lol

Romanousky, how did you and Alex fund this trip, lol. You mentioned ATMs down that way, did you setup a trip account and feed it until you hit critical mass? Are you using credit cards at all? Not trying to be nosy, but when I go on trips just up here in the US, my wad of 20s shrinks at an alarming rate just for a week outing, lol.

I asked my boss if our company has a policy for letting me leave for months to ride someplace far away, and he said, yeah...RIF, lol. I've also been adding up what it seems to be costing you, even though you are on a budget, lol.... I want your job!

Most kidding aside, this post is causing me to think seriously about getting a DRZ for a dual purpose ride, if I can just let go of my conviction that I will be going on a long trip and need creature comforts :). Safe journey coming back...uh...are you going to abandon the bike and fly back or what?
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:56 AM   #478
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Romanousky, how did you and Alex fund this trip, lol. You mentioned ATMs down that way, did you setup a trip account and feed it until you hit critical mass? Are you using credit cards at all? Not trying to be nosy, but when I go on trips just up here in the US, my wad of 20s shrinks at an alarming rate just for a week outing, lol.

I asked my boss if our company has a policy for letting me leave for months to ride someplace far away, and he said, yeah...RIF, lol. I've also been adding up what it seems to be costing you, even though you are on a budget, lol.... I want your job!

Most kidding aside, this post is causing me to think seriously about getting a DRZ for a dual purpose ride, if I can just let go of my conviction that I will be going on a long trip and need creature comforts :). Safe journey coming back...uh...are you going to abandon the bike and fly back or what?
All good questions,thanks for asking!I'll be watching for the answers.
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Old 05-13-2013, 11:54 AM   #479
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Originally Posted by Romanousky View Post
I hurry to the room and unload my remaining dynamite. You are not supposed to have this stuff outside of the mine area. Hey, it’s a once in a lifetime thing and I’m going to blow something up. Alex collapses on the bed and passes out. Choco gets ready for the afternoon guiding trip….Wow!
You have read my mind, my exact plans to go out onto the Salar or somewhere else in Southern Bolivia and blow some holes Be sure and take some video. I'm really looking forward to getting to that mine myself, I look Choco up and have some drinks

Edit: just say the cacti blow up nice! Onward to the Salar to make some holes.
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:05 PM   #480
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[QUOTE=dasvis;21387414]
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You guys rock. Makes me proud to be an Oregonian.
So glad this was the first response. I was afraid a bunch of cactus hugging hippies were going to give me a bunch of shit. Thank you sir
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