A Travellerspoint blog

The land of death in Bolivia, Part 2

What about in a mine? Or eaten alive in the jungle?

Did you know that by mentioning the word "naked" in my previous blog post title, the view count shot up by more than 1500% compared to the entry before that one? Maybe I should do that more for some sensational blogging. Anyways, back to Bolivia...

(Click on the photos for bigger version and even more photos!)

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As I awoken from the haze, I found myself half naked in complete darkness. I should have known that the hot showers at the end of the desert was too good to be true. Suddenly, a match lid up and I struggled to make out the blurry figure that stood before me. It turns out, in order to conserve their battery pack in the tunnels, the miners at Potosi operate in complete darkness for a good portion of their 14 hour days. The mining city used to be known as the richest city in the world due to the silver in its mines, but the Spaniards made sure that wasn't the case anymore. Anyways, an average miner has an life expectancy of 40 years, I didn't last 40min before my breath was taken away due to claustrophobia and lack of oxygen (one of the highest mines in the world at more than 4000 m, 13000 ft).

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Stumbling out of the mines (plus an 8 hour bus ride and a 2 hour plane ride) I found myself in the basin of the Amazon rainforest. At 32C (90F) and 90+% humidity, boy was it hot and humid. No matter how scantily I dress, I sweat a good 250ml (8.4oz) every hour when walking with the pack (yes, I am a human fire hydrant), which was a problem because I would need to bring about 3L (100oz) of water just for a single day/night hike or I would've died of dehydration... in the rainforest no less. So 3 days amounted to 9L (9kg or 20 lbs worth) of water! But luckily another hiker had a water filtration device and I was saved from death from once again.

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One thing you have to watch out for are the fire ants crawling all over the place. These little buggers' sting can pack quite a punch. Their sting actually contains a neurotoxin that paralyzes the prey before ripping them to smaller pieces alive and carried back to the nest. For bigger prey like me, a single sting would just result a sharp, fiery pain for about an hour (or two if you have sensitive skin like me, I keep them well lotioned everyday), but with enough stings I would end up lying on the ground, unable to move, getting nibbled down to the bones... *shudders*

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If the dangers of jungles weren't dangerous enough, some people actually jump off of cliffs onto a tree branch just for a selfie, like this guy did back in 2007. I guess some people will do anything for a few more likes on a facebook profile pictures.

Overall, I escaped death 5 times during my trip throughout Bolivia and it has certainly been a memorable experience. Would I recommend the trip to other people who are afraid for their life and even leaving their own towns? Of course, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Would I do it again? Nope.

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Posted by btang 03/28/2014 20:40 Archived in Bolivia Tagged rainforest jungle mines amazon bolivia potosí south_america silver madidi

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