Monday, September 24, 2012

Bloqueo Numero Dos: Sucre a Potosí, una adventura!

Hello, finally, from Potosí, dear readers! Our last two days in Sucre were somewhat uneventful. We hung out in the park, talked to some Austrians who now live in Bolivia, and generally took it easy. Unfortunately, Matt has been having some stomach trouble, and add that to no sleep on Saturday night due to the club next door playing music from 3 AM until dawn, we decided not to head to the market on Sunday, and instead, loafed about town. This morning, we packed up for Potosí, the mining city, as our destination. We got the last two seats aboard the 10 AM bus, but just as we were leaving, a police guard warned us there was a bloqueo about 20 kilometers outside of Potosí. The bus headed out anyway. Since we had been in a bloqueo before, in Mexico, we figured this would be similar. (Quick reminder, in Mexico, we were able to simply walk around the protest and catch a bus on the other side. Though we ended up going through some other small cities we didn´t expect, it was fairly easy and unstressful.) Unfortunately, the bloqueo was a little different here. You may know that last week, several miners were protesting in La Paz over wage disputes with the government. Apparently, a miner died due to police action against the protests and the bloqueo was a a result. But this wasn´t a simple blocking of the street in one place. Several highways were cut off and on our route, we were stopped 25 kilometers (15 miles) away from Potosí, at altitude (around 4000 meters above sea level), with our bags. Luckily, our packs are relatively manageable compared to some other travellers we walked with. The highway was shut off with rocks in the road, patrolled by miners, for almost all of the 25 km to town. We ended up walking about 10 km before a minivan, seeming to want to avoid the patrols, picked us up and took us to the end of the bloqueo. We then had to walk another 20 minutes past the other side of the bloqueo, where several taxis waited to take people the final stretch into town! So instead of arriving at 1 PM as planned, we finally checked into our hostel at 4:30, exhausted from the walk and hungry, as we´d only had a roll of bread, expecting to eat lunch on our arrival. We´ve now had some dinner and plan to relax today before heading to the Coin Museum tomorrow and take a tour of the mines the day after. We will update you soon!

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