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BOLIVIA - THE ANDES di Axel Kaiser

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Mountainbiking from Bolivia to Chile

She tells us a lot about the area. Tourists always think that when they arrive in some out of way place to find the real southamerica not altered by European culture. But we have to keep in mind that even Betanzos, already several hundred years ago, was a stopover point for the Grand Damas of Spain with their load of last fashion clothes from Paris. Furthermore the indigenous culture was completely destroyed while the indios were used as slaves.

Even the characteristic hats of Bolivian Women are a imposition of the Spanish queen Maria Teresa who thought that they looked so cute with it.

Before noon we start for Potosi, we have to climb up to 4100 meters. The road is good and the gradient not steep but soon we start to feel the altitude. At around 3 o- clock we stop for lunch. Instead of dehydrated Chili con Carne I took, by mistake, a sweet fruit gelee. We had not enough water to make another meal and so we ate this disgustingly sweet stuff and went on.


We arrive at Potosi only after dark, quite exhausted. But a few minutes rest and we feel fit again, this is characteristic of the high altitude. We have a great dinner with Pique Macho *little pieces of meat with potatoes and some kind of sauce.

Next morning I see at last the famous Cerro ricco de Potosi. More than anything else, this mountain is the symbol of the tragedy of south America. In 200 years a incredible amount of silver was extracted, killing in the process 8 millions of Indios, almost to extinction. And when the indios were scarce they brought in slaves from Africa. This silver changed the whole world allowing Europe to finance the industrial revolution. This was always the fate of the rich South America, the wealth enriched the rest of the world bringing misery to itself.

We took a guided tour of the mines. Silver is scarce now but in the mountains are still a lot of other ores.

The work is hard and dangerous, even if you are not killed by some injury or collapse of the mines your health is constantly threatened by arsenic gasses and silicosis. The miners mostly work in Cooperatives which are composed of several groups of 5-6 people who work together and split the earnings. They earn about 250 $ a month, a very high salary for Bolivia, and have the right to retire when they lost 50% of their pulmonary capacity. Only a few mines use a minimum of security rules, in the most the miners just blaze away the dynamite charges as they like, this costs a lot of lives every year.

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Dati del viaggio

Mountainbiking from Bolivia to Chile

Periodo: Agosto 2000

Destinazione: Bolivia - The Andes

Partecipanti: Axel Kaiser e Ana Zandomeneghi

Passaporto turistico

Axel Kaiser


Axel ed Ana sono due cari amici, lui tedesco lei brasiliana vivono a Firenze da molti anni insieme alla loro piccola Virginia. Axel è venuto in Italia con la sua famiglia ancora piccolo ed ha conosciuto Francesco al liceo.

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