So our time in Bolivia was a contrast of extremes. We flew from Buenos Aires up to Santa Cruz and bused straight to Potosi all in just under 2 days. So talk about altitude sickness! We both had throbbing headaches and nausea. It could have been a lot worse hearing what one CAN get, so it wasn?t that bad, but definately not pleasant. But we managed to stalk out these two tour guides, Charlie and Luke, who ended up being really helpful inplanning our time in Bolivia, but also hilarious guys who were lots of fun to hang with while we toured around. So, day 1 (just prior to headaches kicking in) we joined Luke´s tour to the mines. Apparently this is the ¨thing to do¨when in Potosi, but let me tell you I strngly disagree. Before you get all geard up you go to a little shop and buy gifts for the minors. The gifts consist of a bag of coco leaves, cigarettes, a bottle of alchohol which is fully like rubbing alchohol, but that what they drink, and finally a stick of dynamite & a fuse. Ok I think that it the first red flag!! Then we went and got geared up to go in the tour. They gave us rain gear, big boots, helmets and face masks. So off we went to the mines. And the second we get in a semi large chunk of rock falls down and lands inches away froma guy in our group. Yup red flag number two! So we wlak in a ways and see the first group of minors and one guy is putting together an explosive with the dynamite and fuse. Yup red flag number 3! At this point we few of us have hit our threshold and decide we need to VAMANOS. But the guide said it would only be a half hour more and we thought we could handle that. But a guy in our group works in the mines in Australia and decides to tell us all about how unsafe the rock is in the mine, compares it to swiss cheese and so on with the scary details. So I completely disengage and dont think i can really tell you a single detail about the mines. How deep they are, how long they have been mining, nope I got nothin. So after the half hour the guide asks if people want to go to another part on our way out. We agree, but it turns out the ¨way out´ was fully like crawling througha hole on all fours and one at a time going up this rickety ladder that goes over a big huge cravace (maybe an old mining hole) and last but not least we hear a loud boom, the ground shakes and little pieces of rubble and dust fall downa roud us. Oh but the guide announces ¨Dont be scary!´Because this is normal. Ha I had to laugh at that despite my level of ¨scariness¨. To everyone´s relief we got out of there pretty quick after that. So definately an experience, but I have to say it one I would gladly have missed. Sadly shrotly after that the headaches kicked in so we just kind of took it easy for the evening. Had dinner with Charlie and Luke´s group and then called it a night. That wasw our one night in Potosi. Then we bussed to uyuni the following day. The shortest bus ride we had, only 8 hours, but easily felt like the longest! We bumped into a couple, Jo and Nick (who we eneded up taking the salt flats tour with) who had witnessed a bus crash 3 days before. And a couple they had run into a few times along the back packers route was in the accident and the girl was killed in the bus accident. I won´t get into details, but Jo told us explicit details about the scene of the accident and the aftermath and how common bus accidents are in Bolivia due to unsafe driving and unpaved roads. Blah, blah, so my level of anxiety was off the charts. That coupled with the headache and nausea made for a pretty unpleasant journey. In the midst of all this though had an interest lesson in courtesy. As we learned on our two day bus from Santa Cruz to Potosi it is very common for the bus to pick random people up off the side of the road. The obviously dont have tickets, but they just sit or stand in the aisle of the bus and knock on the driver´s window when they want to get off. So, as usual this happened and a group of four got on the bus. The two men sat back to back in the aisle at the front of the bus sort of leaning on each other and the two women worked their way past other ¨squatters¨towards the back of the bus. There was a Bolivian man sitting in front of us, a man who had paid for his seat, but he stood up and offered his seat to the younger of the two women who was carrying a little baby on her back. She gave the seat to the older woman she was travelling with and sat on the floor next the seat. And they remained that way for the next 5 hours. The man just stood, he seemed to be a bit drunk, but was friednly and made conversation a bit. He was hard to understand because he slurred his words, but he introduced him asked our names and ages and where we are from. He didn´t know Bermuda but understood my broken Spanish enough to get it is an island near the US, but is British. It was a really incredible experience. Here was a group of 20+ ¨gringos¨from all over the world, generally I would say it is fair to assume we all have it pretty easy and not a single one of us offered a seat to these people. But this man, who I also think it is fair to assume, certainly by western standards, does not have an easy life, gave up his seat and stood for 5 hours and the woman with the baby sat on the floor!! Amazing lesson in humanity.