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Bolivia volunteers drink with the Devil!

A group of Projects Abroad volunteers in Bolivia chose an unusual way to spend their evening on June 24th. Rather than joining the throngs at the usual bars and nightclubs, four of our more intrepid volunteers made their way to Potosí, said to be the highest city on Earth, and renowned for its primitive silver-mining operations that even pre-date the Incas.

Bolivia volunteers at a more typical social occasion

The local miners, unable to rely on modern technology, have found an alternative solution to keeping the mines safe and productive: they've made a bargain with the Devil.

As the volunteers were led on a tour of the mines, advancing on hands and knees and chewing coca leaves to boost their adrenaline, they came to a chamber carved out of the rock. Exploring a little further, this turned out to be a shrine to El Tio, as he is called locally - otherwise known as the Devil! In keeping with tradition, our adventurous group left an offering of coca leaves to guarantee their safe passage through the mines.

After venturing (very safely!) as far as the fifth level of the mine, where temperatures can rise to 140°F, the volunteers headed back to the surface. However, passing by the Devil's shrine again, they found a party in full swing! In thanks for a prosperous week, the miners had gathered to toast their guardian with a glass or two of the local beer and spirits. Returning to the relative normality of the Projects Abroad base in Cochabamba, our volunteers had to agree that this was the most exclusive - and unusual - nightclub they had ever visited!

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