Finally made it to Oruro! Due to a protest in La Paz, a 3hour trip turned into a 7 hour schlep. The folks in El Alto are notorious for their protests. Unexpected obstacles are just part of the fun of travel.
Today “we” put our bikes together. Mine was in many pieces in order to get it in a small box. Thankfully it arrived in tact!
Oruro is a mining town. The Aymaras and Quechuas have been extracting silver from the core of the Altiplano since before the Spanish conquest. When the Spanish got wind of the abundance of wealth hidden just below the surface of mother earth guess what they did? That’s right! Exploited the sh*t out of the her and the people along with it! To this day, the miners endure long dangerous and brutal days in the belly of the beast. To appease the devil who lives in the mines just waiting to take lives, the miners give offerings to “El Tío” (a term of endearment for the devil). Offerings include coca leaves, tabaco, alcohol, llama fetuses, and sugar treats.
I was told in La Paz that there are no women minors due to the culture of “El Tío” and the machismo that exists in the mines, but in Oruro I was able to track down a few women who do indeed work in the mines! I went to visit the mine of San Jose and interviewed Dona Elizabeth Yana Mamanita. She was allowed to work in the mine because her husband left her for another woman and so the mining cooperative let her work there in order to provide for her children. Interesting interview!
Tomorrow we really are leaving. I suspect it may be a few weeks before we have internet access. I’ll be right back as soon as we do, so stay tuned for the next installment. Un abrazo!