Though inhabited by less people and distinctly smaller in financial and political national influence than the mighty La Paz, Sucre is Bolivias modest capital with colonial buildings, fantastic plazas and of course cheap market food.

  Arriving after an all night bus ride, nothing much was done the first day in Sucre besides sleep and naturally play our favourite drinking game.  Waking up the next morning we deicided one more day was more than enough and we were to leave the next morning.  Our final day however was quite eventful.  We walked the city, paroused the local chocolate shops and played a game of soccer with a bunch of local kids.  The funny thing about playing anything with locals (particularly things they are sure they will beat you at) is that they always want to place a bet; makes things more interesting.  Our wager: the losers buy the winners a coke each. 

I can assure you that running around at an altitude of 3500 metres is a lot harder than a few laps of the Carlton Baths indoor soccer court on friday evenings.  Your throat burns your lungs are tight and you generally feel like you have a plastic bag wrapped around your face.  Handicapped already by our lack of acclimatisation, the locals ran rings around us in the first half constantly moving and keeping us from breathing.  Regardless, we ended the half 5-4, though our exhaustion ratio faired way worse than the scoreboard.  I honestly thought we were doomed at half time and when they came out and scored another goal very quickly in the second half I was convinced we would be buying these kids each a drink.

But it wasnt so….

  I dont know where it came from but we banded together, we held strong and although the scores were constantly being altered by our oposition to reflect the same margin, but a greater distance from the winning score, we won the game  10-7 (which was really 11-8 because they kept changing the score to suite themselves).  I kicked 5 goals but the whole team was instrumental in the overall victory.  As we walked back to our accomodation slowly reinvigorating our depleted lungs we were high on life and full of adrenaline and feeling invincible.  We needed a nickname and at that moment, Nathan, Carmin, Brian, Tanner and myself became the unstaoppable ¨Guns of Navarone,¨ and we have blasted ever since.

    A quiet dinner of (surprise surprise) chicken and rice followed by an even quieter evening and we awoke the next morning at 5am to begin the longest day of my entire trip….

POTOSI is actually the highest town in the world!  At an altitude of over 4000 meters one would be forgiven for asking why anyone would build a town at this height.  The answer is that in potosi there is an old Spanish silver mine, now used only to mine minerals, which generates over 90% of the income, for the entire town.  This mine is truly 3rd world, full of toxic gasses, asbestos, low hanging ceilings, miners exploding dynamite, a constant shuffle to escape the hurtling mine cars (which rush the minerals and the waste out of the mines) and of course gringos who pay good money to be given a tour.  We also dressed up as miners and looked really cool (not! Infact first time I´ve worn gumboots since I was a kid).

    Watching the miners work in thier conditions with 19th century equipment in an area with very little oxygen certainly puts into perspective a casual job at a telemarket research company.  Infact I think I will be satisfied with almost any job I get from now on.  The tour lasted 2 hours and we met miners, bought dynamite, crawlled on hands and knees to navigate the cramped spaces, learnt of the daily lives of miners in Potosi and of course blew the dynamite up in a reckless exhersion of pyromaniacism (not sure if thats a word).  Thats right!!  I held a stick of dynamite with a lit fuse, i am so cool!

    After the mine tour we visited the mineral processing plant before rushing from one side of town to the other to catch the last bus out of potosi to continue to Uyuni (for the salt flats).  That night was the worst bus ride of my life.

   Supposed to take six hours, we were two hours out of town (Brian and I had caught one bus whilst the others were on another) before the driver realised the bus did not have enough power to make it up the many hills inbetween Potosi and Uyuni.  At that point we reversed a kilometre before uloading the bus (to lighten it of course) at which point the driver attempted a ´run up´ to make it over the hill.  When I asked another local if there were many hills the answer was simply ´of course´.  When the empty bus did not make it to the top we began the two hour return BACK to Potosi where we hung around for another hour whilst the driver popped the bonnet and, equipped with nothing more than a screw driver, managed to give the bus ´more power´.  The supposed 6 hour drive then  took 9 hours and eventually, 14 hours after we initally set off, our six hour bus ride was complete.  We were bad tempered, but we were in Uyuni, home to the famous Salar de Uyuni, a much travelled to destination for gringos far and wide.