There are still 500 meters to climb from Uyuni at 3570 m to Potosi at 4070.
It was cloudy most of the way.
These pictures are not very good but they do represent faithfully what the puna is like on a wet cold day.
Life in the mountains is not easy for the Quechua.
Particularly if you happen to be a woman...
These people were waiting for local transportation.
I found these mountain villages grey and somewhat sad. I have seen a lot of happier looking people elsewhere in the world.
Here and there, a valley with a favourable microclimate supports a village that looks more prosperous than most.
This isolated farm house blends well in its rocky environment.
The population density is high enough that every bit of land is used; here to graze llamas and a horse.
This photo shows how terraces have been built up the side of the mountain to grow some kind of crop, maize, potatoes or quinoa.
An altitude of 4090 metres is not a problem for me while sitting quietly in a bus but it does make me short winded from the slightest physical exertion. I had to stop to catch my breath at every street corner in Potosi.
I stayed at the Hotel Carlos V on calle Linares. The entrance can be seen just beyond the motorcycle, the door with the sign above sheltering a standing man.
The outside did not look like much but inside it was cheery, well kept and cheap (3 US$ with shared bathroom). I had the place to myself for the owners were leaving for the Oruro carnival when I arrived.
Potosi is an attractive small city in spite of its long and heavy history of social conflicts centred on the exploitation of miners extracting the rich multi-metal deposits of nearby Cerro Rico.
It is not without reason that UNESCO has given the whole city the coveted status of being part of the "Human Heritage". Calle Tarija is a good example of well restored colonial architecture.
The weather was not very friendly while I was there. It would rain, the sun would come out for a few minutes, like here on the Plazuela, and then it would pour again.
This small Plaza 6 de Agosto is joined to the larger Plaza 10 Noviembre in front of the cathedral. As mentioned before, I find these names very frustrating for I generally don't know what the dates stand for.
Potosi's 16th century cathedral was difficult to photograph as trees on Plaza 10 de Noviembre were blocking the view from almost every angle.
The people sitting with colourful plastic containers in front of the arches on the western side of Plaza 10 Noviembre, are selling water filled rubber balloons called "globos" that children and adults alike throw at each other during carnival time.
Opposite the arches is the "Prefectura", the regional administrative centre.
A few steps away is the famous Casa de Moneda Museum which was unfortunately closed during the carnival. A friendly doorman nonetheless let me enter long enough to take this picture of the first courtyard.
In Potosi's heyday, when its silver mine was the richest in the world, the Casa de Moneda was a busy factory minting coins to be shipped to Spain. The smiling face of an indigenous Andean was placed there to hide the armouries of Spain carved into the stone arch underneath.
It is not obvious but to me this plain street in north Potosi somehow reflects the hard life of labourers in Bolivia.
The road from Potosi at 4070 m descends through these mountains to Sucre at 2790 m.
The coffee coloured Pilcomayo river flowing by the Puente Méndez is heavily contaminated with metals from the numerous small mines in this region. It is a major health problem for the local indigenous population suffering from lead poisoning.