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Polaroid of the week: The crumbling grandeur of Potosí, Bolivia

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polaroid bolivia potosiAlthough we made a grand entrance into Bolivia by way of the seriously amazing Salar de Uyuni salt flats, the town where the three-day tour officially ends – Uyuni – is basically just meh. So after one night of a scalding hot shower and ten hours of sleep we hopped on the bus from Uyuni to Potosí, our first official stop in the country.

And what a grand stop it was. This colonial town was once one of the wealthiest cities in the world, thanks to the unmissable ‘rich hill’ or Cerro Rico, which was once filled with silver. Today the pure silver is gone, though the miners continue to go in every day under the most atrocious, dangerous and even life-threatening, conditions – breathing in silica dust and asbestos, to scrape out the remaining minerals.

The main reason for our stop here was that I wanted to visit this mine for myself – stay tuned to find out how that experience went (obviously, I survived!).

We spent our days walking up and down the breathtaking streets – literally breathtaking since Potosí sits at 4,000m (13,500ft), catching our breath in the beautiful central plaza and marveling at the colonial houses with their unique wooden balconies before climbing to the top of several churches and cathedrals. From above as well as on the ground, it is easy to see why this city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, one with such historic importance and grandeur that sits just beneath the clouds.

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