Once known as the wallet of the world for its silver production, very little wealth remains, apart from the beautiful colonial buildings.
Under the Spanish rule, the indigenous were forced to work in the silver mines for months or years at a time, without ever leaving. Due to the poor conditions, 8 million indegenous died. It is said that, a bridge of silver could be made from Potosi to Madrid with all of the silver mined and a bridge back with dead bodies.
The mines are still in use today however the government has sold them to local families, due to the fact that the mineral content is so low now and so that they don't have responsibility for the safety. Ben went into one of these mines and was showed around by Basilio who has worked in the mines since he was 10. There was no health and safety and due to silicosis,the average age of a miner is just 35-40. They work long hours and for very little money. They hope to find silver but the chances are becoming less and less.
Whilst Ben was at the mines, Sarah went to the Santa Theresa convent. In the colonial times, the second daughter of a family entered when they were 15 and never allowed out. It was an honour for the Spanish families to send their daughters there and they would give the church a dowry of gift or money for them to receive their daughter. The nuns slept on just a wooden plank and were only allowed to speak for 2 hours a day in order to remember the pain Jesus went through.
Potosi is a really interesting city and exceeded our expectations. Next to the capiutal, Sucre!