Sunday, January 19, 2014

Special Assembly in Potosi

A month has passed since the last update..
Been moving around a lot. So the next seven posts will summarize the last month's excursions and experiences .. hope you enjoy.

Third week in December we were to have our SAD. Special Assembly Day in the city of Potosi. A not-so-long three hour bus ride from Sucre, the closest city to my home in Villa Serrano.

Potosi is considered one of the HIGHEST cities in the world at somewhere around 4,000 meters.. us Americans don't think in meters. So that would be, 13,500 ft above sea level! To go straight from Long Island, New York to this place wouldn't be so pleasant. They recommend you take a Sorochi Pill and some Coca Tea to ease your way to the high elevation.

It is a neat place, although gnarly. Here are some photos to help with the story-telling...

That giant looming over the city is famous. It is called the "Cerro Rico" It is rich in silver and that is what makes Potosi one of the oldest cities in Bolivia. The Spanish settled here to obtain the silver way back in the colonial days. And they are still mining for the silver to this day. At this elevation, it is cold, damp, windy... a pretty uninviting place.
We arrived in Potosi a few days before the Special Assembly to acclimate a bit and see the city.

First thing on the list was hike up the Cerro Rico. Why not?
One of the most intriguing parts of this place are the mines. Creepy entryways scattered all over the place. I didn't want to go in one at first, after hearing so many stories of people dying from cave-ins, dynamite explosions, toxic fumes, falling in bottomless holes... etc..
A truly unpleasant place.

So, at first, we kinda just toyed with the idea of going in. Taking just a few steps in... look into the pitch black nothingness... I was definitely freakin out... I can't say I've ever experienced what it was like to go into the earth.. The idea was a bit terrifying. There is Joel and Rocio, my friends from Serrano, also contemplating it.

But I guess, when the opportunity arises, you swallow your fears... and just do it. Especially since this local kid was ever-so-eager to lend us boots and a headlamp and be our little tour guide for 15 bolivianos. That's a little over two dollars. So why not? We were just hoping we didn't make a bad decision paying a kid to take us into the mines. haha.. There are "official tours" they do.. but of course we decided to do it the cheap way.

The further you go in, the more narrow and cramped it gets. I don't know how these people spend their entire lives working in the mines. Bottom pic is a sample of one of the precipices you come across along side the path. How people should take a wrong step and accidently fall to their death was kind of baffling to me.. but eventually I learned that, the miners would get completely drunk, and then decide to start working in the mines. That, paired with the darkness... sort of makes how they could fall down one of these...

After walking 30 minutes into the mine, the air was scarce and made it harder to breath in the tight spaces. We ended up at a strange and creepy museum. Make-shift models and scenes showing the coming of the Spaniards and how they oppressed the local people. The mine itself was first made by the Spanish colonists. It wasn't long before I had enough of this claustrophobic, creepy place. It was interesting to do it once. But once is enough.
Myself, the Swiss girls, Tiziana and Natlie, and Joel and Rocio .. the Villa Serrano crew, stayed with the very loving and hospitable family of Maria, the sister from Potosi, who is pioneering in Serrano for a year.

Arco Iris... The Villa Serrano group posing in front of one of the most vivid rainbows I've probably ever seen...
Potosi, although it's in a cold, harsh environment, can be beautiful when you look and see it's surrounded by mountains..

Finding a sister in the public witnessing program in the center of Potosi. It is always encouraging to see this same method of preaching in so many cities around the world. Such a united organization..
The cleaning effort the night before the big day at the assembly venues. It was the most unique assembly venue I've seen so far. It mimics the steep mountain slopes of our surroundings... one of the most vertical theatres I've ever seen.
The special assembly day ! View from the top.

My buddy Jorge from Potosi, Maria's little brother. He let me have his bedroom for all 5 nights of the visit. So hospitable.

The sign language section!

It was an awesome sight. To see all the brothers from two cities, Sucre and Potosi, joined in the same place.  It was my first assembly in this country. One of the biggest highlights of my time in Bolivia so far!

1 comment:

  1. Hey so do you know if the sign language group is ASL? or is it Bolivian SL?