Escuela 1 de Abril, Potosi

At the Escuela 1 de Abril Primary School in Potosi, Bolivia, which is at 4,090m (13,418ft) above sea level, one of the highest cities in the world. These were taken the day after a colorfully dressed four-and-a-half foot tall grandmother punched me in the crotch.

The significance of the date that the school is named for?

Most likely the most agreed upon date, in 1545, that the Spanish founded the Villa Imperial de Carlos V –which later took on its Quechua name– with the express purpose of establishing a mining town at the base of Cerro Rico, the notorious mountain whose vast silver reserves funded much of the Spanish conquest of the 1600s. Some 60 percent of the world’s silver in the 17th century came from Cerro Rico, making Potosi one of the wealthiest cities in the world at the time. It would host the Spanish colonial mint for nearly two hundred years.

The human cost was barbaric. Cerro Rico became known as the mountain that eats men; some historians estimate that the 20,000 tunnels carved into the mountain’s belly over the years have swallowed upwards of eight million miners.

The mine is still in operation, employing some 15,000 people working in local cooperatives. Tourists can also visit but are warned: if you suffer from any breathing ailments or are prone to claustrophobia, tour operators will usually advise against it. I passed. Huffing and puffing your way around a city that sits above 4,000m is difficult enough.


Escuela 1 Abril Potosi 2 Escuela 1 Abril Potosi 3 Escuela 1 Abril Potosi 4 Escuela 1 Abril Potosi 5 Escuela 1 Abril Potosi 1


Today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 1,124th straight, was snapped on 30 March 2013, in Potosi, Bolivia.





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