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Silver Mountain – Rags in addition to Riches in Bolivia

Silver Mountain - Rags In Addition To Riches In Bolivia

At more than 13,000 feet above sea-level inside Andes, we were as close to heaven as most mortals can expect to get – in addition to closer to hell than anybody would likely want to be.

Silver Mountain - Rags In Addition To Riches In Bolivia

A group of miners steadily chewed coca leaves, mixing the wad with ash. They claimed the item immunized them against cold in addition to hunger. Armed with carbide lamps, most not wearing safety helmets, they began to file into the mine, ducking to avoid broken timbers, crawling through puddles.

Silver Mountain - Rags In Addition To Riches In Bolivia

I thought about the dark stains smearing the mine entrance. They were via the blood of the llamas ritually sacrificed to appease El Tio, the devilish deity who rules underground.

Silver Mountain - Rags In Addition To Riches In Bolivia

Coca juice numbed my mouth in addition to claustrophobia gnawed at my stomach. My heart thumped with the exertion at This specific altitude. What the devil was I doing here, deep inside depths of Cerro Rico (rich hill), the mountain in which broods over Potosí in Bolivia?

Silver Mountain - Rags In Addition To Riches In Bolivia

The astounding wealth below the surface of the cone-shaped hill, called Sumac Orcko (“beautiful hill”) inside Quechua tongue, was discovered by Diego Gualpa, an Indian, in April, 1545. One story says he detected silver when his llama scratched the earth.

Silver Mountain - Rags In Addition To Riches In Bolivia

If Diego had known how much suffering his find was to bring to his people inside former kingdom of the Incas, he would likely surely have kept quiet. although a few rich veins were located close to the surface, the mountain was renamed Cerro Rico in addition to soon Potosí had 0,000 inhabitants, a colourful mixture of officials, traders, desperadoes, in addition to millionaires, plus at least 800 professional gamblers in addition to 0 prostitutes.

Silver Mountain - Rags In Addition To Riches In Bolivia

via its mines poured an estimated 46,000 tons of silver, worth anything via US$5,000 million upwards in modern terms. the item brought undreamed-of wealth to a handful of adventurers, adorned churches in addition to palaces, in addition to helped pay for Spain’s Great Armada in addition to a series of wars. the item also brought misery in addition to death to thousands of Indians forced to work below ground.

Silver Mountain - Rags In Addition To Riches In Bolivia

In Potosí only the best was not bad enough for the silver barons. They competed in licentiousness in addition to conspicuous consumption. They shipped their finery back to Paris to possess the item properly dry-cleaned while their ladies wore elegant shoes with heels of solid silver.

Today the city, declared by UNESCO a World Heritage site, will be remote in addition to sleepy in addition to conditions underground are still perilously primitive, as I learned when a young student guided me through some of the 785 kilometres of tunnels honeycombing Cerro Rico. Little silver comes out these days for the most accessible veins are exhausted.

Tin replaced the item in importance, generating fortunes for a lucky few. although, after the bottom fell out of the tin market in 1985, thousands of miners lost their jobs in addition to only a few mines struggle on.

The dream of easy wealth contributed to Spain’s stagnation, helping to impoverish the item for centuries. The riches of the Indies were frittered away – in addition to in which perhaps will be the revenge of Potosí.

Those who carried off its treasure were left with nothing either. Except memories of the silver rush, enshrined in a common Spanish phrase: “Vale un potosí! the item’s worth a king’s ransom!”

Silver Mountain – Rags in addition to Riches in Bolivia

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