In the city
there was a lot to see. The architecture was beautiful.
Potosi is a city
of 120,000 inhabitants. It was founded by the Spanish conquistadores
nearly 500 years ago. They discovered silver there and so the city was
formed. The silver mines are a couple of kilometres away from the
city of Potosi.
A church in Potosi. On the background the Sumac Orko mountain and
In the city
were lots of 'rice-chicken-french fries' fast food restaurants,
where you could fill your stomach spending just one dollar.
Eating didn't cost practically anything.
15.10. Thu (463) Potosi
There was a possibility to visit the
silver mines. Some
travel agencies arrange tours there. A visit costs $5 per person.
With the tourist group I had met in Chile we visited there.
The name of the mountain is Sumac Orko in Quechua language. By the
way, the 'campesinos', the people that live in the countryside don't
speak Spanish so well. Their languages are the original local
languages: Quechua, Aymara and Guaraní.
We went near to the mine area by bus. First we (all the tourists)
bought some necessary stuff
for the miners, that they needed in the mining work. The necessities
were: pure alcohol (for drinking), coca leaves (for refreshment) and
dynamite, gloves, etc.
First there in the mine area we saw an
What a bang and just one small piece of dynamite! Then we got boots and
rainsuits and torches. They were of some ancient model, they operated
with gas. There was a bottle, where was put some crystals and water.
The crystals reacted with the water and produced gas, which burned in
We entered the mines with
a guide. Inside there were no lights, but only what we had got. The
tunnel was sometimes just 120 cm high and 50 cm wide. Difficult to walk!
Stressful place. Sometimes there were caves/holes in the path. One of
them was 5 metres deep. I almost fell in there, as my torch refused to
work properly and it was difficult to see the way.
The paths were like a labyrint. The miners dig the rocks with ancient
methods: with a hammer and an iron bar. A miner could
'drill' a hole for the
dynamite stick into the rock one inch in two or three hours. Sometimes
they used dynamite, but not often, as they said it's expensive.
The guide interwiewed some of them (in Quechua): they were 45 to 46
years old and had worked in the mines 35 to 36 years! Started at age
of 10! ...and still alive. There were also some boys working. They
usually worked some years and then bought a one-way ticket to
Argentina, where they worked then as construction men.
No women worked in the mines. It was believed that women working there
would bring bad luck. Some old women worked outside the mines,
eradicating silver with hammer from the once used stones. Their
husbands had died in the mines long time ago in some accident. We
gave for the old women some coca leaves and pure alcohol (90%) for
The older miners owned one small part of the mine. They were then
responsible of the production and the safety in that area. They
secured the roofs, etc. So it was their own safety, as well. First
they dig the rocks, then carried the stones out in a backpack. 60
times a day, 50 kgs each! And through tiny, dangerous paths! We,
tourists could walk slowly, the miners RAN having the burden on
We were told that during the Spanish colonialism (300 years) in the
mines died eight million people! 47,000 tons of silver was transported
to Spain during the 300 years from Potosi.
In Buenos Aires I had visited a church (just because it was a beautiful
building, I'm not religious :) The church was built during the
Spanish colonial times. There was lots of Inca gold used. Now in
Potosi I had an idea, how horrible way it had been produced.
16.10. Thu (464) Potosi
Sucre (2800 m above sea level)
Moving ahead towards North.
The next city was Sucre. Luckily I didn't have to carry the tyres
anymore. I had carried them for 5,500 kms from Buenos Aires! The road
was asphalt, the first time since the border of Chile. Great.
The people guided me the way out of the city, to the beginning of
the road to Potosi. In South American rural roads there aren't road
signs very often.
Washing the drive chain with gasoline from dusts & lubricating with oil,
after the 530 kms riding in the Uyuni desert and earth tracks.
When arriving to Sucre, in the very first crossroads I met a
DR800 biker! He had a blue Suzuki DR800. He was possibly the one
and only DR800 rider in Bolivia. So what a coincidence that I had
met him. He had bought his bike from a Swiss world traveller.
His name was Guido Valda.
When I entered to Sucre for the first time, I was surprised how beautiful
the town was! Incredible. Especially the center, 'La Plaza'.
He and his wife, Sonja had a pharmacy. There I met one
Lizbeth in the evening... Previously I had planned to pass Sucre
at the same time or stay just one night.
At noon in the center, at Plaza was a fiesta! It was actually a
carnival, where were lots of dancers and two brass bands. Maybe
300 dancers performing. The dance was called Diablada. It was
'La Entrada de la Virgen de Guadalupe' (The Arrival of the Virgin
Guido helped me in buying some spare parts. The only difficulty was
to find the bike shops. At Imcruz, the local Suzuki dealer, there
was possibility to buy the needed spares.
As also in Bolivia - as in many other countries - the DR800 is not
in the importation program, but the DR650 is. Luckily some spares are
the same, for example: oil filter and balancer chain. Cam chain is
in DR650 basically the same, but 9 links longer than in DR800. I
bought those all. In Bolivia the spare parts cost three times less
than in Finland or Argentina, for example.
We also bought the engine oil for my bike. It was put into a plastic
bag! What?? How can it be carried to the service that way? :) That's
how it is done in Bolivia. Saving the costs :) ...canned oil is much more expensive.
Guido's friend, a motorcycle mechanic took my bike for checking. The
engine made some noise. The reason was a worn-out balancer chain
and too big valve clearances, I thought. I had ridden more than
60,000 kms. The mechanic couldn't change the chain, special tools
24.10. Sat (472) Sucre
I met Lizbeth's family the first time, parents & other family members.
We had a marvellous lunch together!
Near the city of Sucre
mountains there is a world
historical sight, that now belongs to the Patrimony of the World. That
is Footprints of the Dinosaurs,
Huellas de Dinosaurios.
The place is five kilometres away from the city. The footprints were
formed some 100 million years ago. Where nowadays is the city of Sucre,
at the same place was long time ago a lake. The animals used the same
path there when going to drink. The footprints are now on a wall
formation. Long time ago it was flat ground, like horizontal, but
later there arose more mountains and the flat place rose up to 45
degrees angle. Path of the dinosaurs
There can be seen many different types of footprints. The biggest
footprints belonged to dinosaurs that were bigger animals than elephant.
In some of the footprints were three 'fingers/toes' in front and one
backwards. Like a footprint of a bird, but 100 times bigger. Those
belonged to the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Unfortunately a local cement factory started to operate there and
destroyed almost all of the footprints as the stone material was
suitable for making cement.
Luckily, a couple of years ago some engineer understood what was the
meaning of the prints in the rock and then the cement factory
Fancesa was ordered to move their machines out of there.
Now there are plans to shield the footprints with plastic, but it
is an expensive project. There is a need to this as that cement is
not very durable. The footprints may be destroyed due to erosion
after some decades, I guess :(
30.10. Fri (478) Sucre
I could do the maintenance work for my bike at the Imcruz. Problem
was the worn-out balancer chain. They let me do the work by myself,
I could borrow some tools too. Sometimes the mechanics helped me.
Great! It was a bigger job than I expected, I had to leave it for
31.10. Sat (479) Sucre
At 8:00 am to Imcruz. The workshop manager, Antonio Sainz helped
in the maintenance. We discovered some
damage in the engine
too. The lug of cam shaft was broken. It had to get welded. Also
there was some scratches in the other cam... One chain guide was
wrongly assembled in Brazil, it was the reason.
We finished the work afternoon, they helped and overworked because
of the maintenence! Very friendly. They gave the oil and all that
was FREE! ...The running sound of the machine was like of a new one :)
4.11. Wed (483) Sucre
I got more and more attracted to that girl (Lizbeth) I had met :)
Via Internet, I sent some work applications, also to Nokia,
which was my previous work place.
We went to a football match: Real Potosi - Independiente (Sucre).
At the entrance area there had been like a riot as the police
officers tried to hold back the entering people with their batons,
and so many tried to enter to see the game!
At the stadium there were about 30,000 people! Totally full.
Game started. Brass bands of both teams played their music - loudly :)
It was funny to see how the audience reacted: the team of Potosi was
leading in the beginning and Potosian audience cheered them, but when
the team was loosing, their supporters started to react aggressively...
Sucreans were wathcing the game silently. It was easy to see, in
which part of the stadium sat the Potosians :)
Team of Sucre was superior and won the game 2-0.
6.11. Fri (485) Sucre
As in Bolivia it is obligatory for the tourists to go into a HIV test,
also I had to do it. Every tourist staying in the country more than
30 days have to take the test. But that's ok.
7.11. Sat (486) Sucre
This was to be the last day with Lizbeth, as I had planned to search
for work in Bolivia. In Sucre the chances to find work are small,
as there are not so much of work opportunities for a computer
engineer. I had planned to go to Santa Cruz. I wouldn't have
liked to go!
8.11. Sun (487) Sucre
I started the journey at 7 am, as I was told that the road is bad.
Tank full of gas... 6 litres of it... What! 60 kms ridden since the
last filling. Makes 10 l/100 km... Somebody had drained fuel out of
my tank. It had happened twice and at a hostel, in the night. What
The stolen articles on the tour had been so far:
A Citizen Divemaster watch in Turkey. I forgotten it on a table at a cafe of a gas station!
It had cost 210 USD.
Some tools & clothes were stolen in Mauritania.
I guess other tourists did that, maybe a local hawker,
at Nouadhibou camping. (I lost worth of 100 USD).
A few clothes in Burkina Faso at a catholic
mission station F.E.M.E.
In South Africa somebody people stole some of
my food in several backpackers' hostels.
Bathroom bag stolen in Buenos Aires.
Gasoline of 10 litres in Bolivia.
So absolutely nothing dramatic... As tour has last this long time, it is almost inevitable that things get lost. It is impossible to guard the things all the time, and it doesn't make any sense either.
After the Huellas de Dinosaurios, (Footprints of Dinosaurs) the
asphalt ended. The road to Santa Cruz seemed to be a narrow, bumpy
and also a bit dangerous gravel road. But the
views were beautiful!
Many times the road was so narrow that it was enough for just one car.
And there were many trucks and buses on the way. I did the first
273 kms in nine (9) hours! That makes 30 km/h. Three stream crossings.
The deepest of the streams was flowing so rapidly and seemed so deep,
I had to cross it first by walk. The bottom was of stones depth was
30 cm. Okay. The trucks went other path, there was 60 cm of water.
The way to Santa Cruz (495 kms) took 14.5 hours. I went to the first
hostel I found in the night. It wasn't difficult to fall asleep.
(End of Tour Diary book 3)
9.11. Mon (488) Santa Cruz
The hostels in Santa Cruz
were more expensive than in Sucre. Climate was tropical, humid and hot.
A bit uncomfortable. The consulate of Finland was near, just one kilometre
from the hostel. I had there some mail from Finland waiting for me.
The Consulate of Finland was located in the 3rd floor of a bank.
In Antofagasta, Chile it was in the same premises with a language
school. Unfortunately the consul was on holiday or somewhere, so
I couldn't have my mail. Bad luck. The secretaries didn't know where
the consul was, when he would return and they didn't have access to the documents, e.g. mails.
11.11. Wed (490) Santa Cruz
I arranged more time for my visa, as the first one is for 30 days only.
But, at least Finns can have 90 days automatically, for free. There
is a contract between Finland and Bolivia.
Anyway, Santa Cruz seemed to be a disappointment for me (according to
work opportunities). The last matter was, when there were no
advertisements of work in newspapers. And if there was work, it was
low paid. I gave up and decided to return back to Sucre.
I filled the tank and also the jerrycan full of premium gasoline for