Artictropic - Wordwide Adventure


Bolivia’s Potosi Mine

Posted on September 3rd, 2014 by Alina

45 kilometers and 4.5 hours later I arrive in Potosi from Sucre, Bolivia’s capital. Potosi known only for its mine is a medium-ish sized town. Because of a government strike everything is closed for the two days I was there, expect the silver mine. “Hello everyone, my name is Pedro I’m an ex-miner, today I will show you the beautiful mine of Potosi, I began mining when I was 12.” Now retired at 28, Pedro of Big Deal Tours is prepping us for a mine tour.

Our first stop is the miners market to pick up coca leaves, soda and dynamite as gifts to the miners. If I’m correct these gifts are like our “entrance fee” to the mines, which are nationalized. We are given protective clothes to cover our branded jackets and jeans. Our sneakers are traded for worn and dusty boots and our warm beanies are replaced with hard hats equipped with lights. “Okay everyone, we go!” On a shabby bus we head up hill, at about 4200 meters our bus slowly whines up the dirt road, inches from the edge we make our way to one of the 200+ entrances of the mountain.

As we wait to enter we’re told of the rituals and religions the miners honor. Dried lama blood covers the entrance and all the doors to storage and dressing quarters that line the entrance to the mine. They hold one religion for the outside world and another for inside to mine to protect themselves from death inside. The religion inside consists of gods, uncles, devils and one female spirit that protects the over 8,000 independent miners. With endless uncharted tunnels you can use all the protection you can get. It’s unknown how many tunnels or miners are working inside daily. There isn’t a log or check in system to keep track. Dynamite which as you saw can be easily purchased, can go off at any time. The knowledge of the old miners and enthusiasm of the new ones is what powers the continued exploration of this very old mine. The elders teach them how to look for silver, the growth is from north to south, they pass down rituals of their mine Gods. Coca leaves and a special alcohol that comes in a plastic bottle (which I’m convinced is rubbing alcohol minus the “safe for consumption sticker”) are some of the offerings to the Gods. Coca leaves seem to be the main food stipend. They have about a entire mouth’s full at all times, Pedro tells us about the magic powers of the coca leaves – keeps them from getting hungry, thirsty, or loss of energy. Most miners seem to be addicted and as most side effects of narcotics we know why.

As we make our way past different statues within the cave honoring the mine gods we are asked to sit. Pedro begins to give us life advice and lessons. He tells us about eating healthy, providing for our family and ends with requests for love and happiness from the Uncle God of the mine.

We travel about 600 meters in and around the mine. We pass tools from all generations, simple chisels to machines. Miners in Potosi can earn between $USD700 to over $USD10,000 a month from silver and zinc. This number is outstanding because it is said that the amount of silver Spaniards took was enough to build a bridge from Potosi to Spain, that was also said for the amount of bones from mine slaves that died during the colonial period.

A miners life may be one of the hardest, days spent in the dark to emerge only into the darkness. My grandfather was a miner for over twenty years in Romania his lack of education lead him to that life but his detection to work trickled and changed the following generations. If you want to experience only for a moment what it feels like to have this hard but rewarding life I’d recommend the tour, just know it’s not the safest or charted.

Moscow to Siberia

Posted on August 17th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

Final edit of Go-Pro footage of ArcticTropic’s exploratory voyage across Russia in early Summer 2014. Five days in Moscow , then to Irkutsk,Lake Baikal and Ulan Ude , before crossing into Mongolia.

Ukraine Flyover

Posted on July 19th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

Flying over the Ukraine , then later Afghanistan on Singapore Airlines SQ 25 from Frankfurt to Singapore on March 13, 2014, on ArcticTropic’s voyage to Myanmar. Flying over war zones is usually routine when the fighting units on the ground either do not have access to high altitude missiles or have no need to use them in their local conflicts. Eastern Ukraine is in a busy air corridor from Northern and Central Europe to South Asia. Obviously that has now changed.

British Columbia

Posted on July 14th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

From Europe,to Asia back to North America, British Columbia was the last stop on ArcticTropic’s Round The World Adventure. After a long flight from Tokyo,via Manila , we settled into Vancouver to readjust to North American life, then ventured North of the city.

Fjords begin just out of Vancouver and stretch thousands of miles up into Alaska.

Glaciers overlook the Pacific.

A young Miamian enjoys the summer snow.

Mysterious life forms in the rainforest.

Road signs in First People’s Native Language of Tsihqot’in.

Enjoying the northern sunshine.

Back across the Date Line.

And finally – Home !

Philippine Landing

Posted on July 5th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

In order to save 50% on airfare from Tokyo to Vancouver, ArcticTropic flew on Philippine Airways via Manila. Other than the incessantly crying baby in the background,the first flight was quite pleasant. In the future we will explore those dense jungles in the mountains above Manila. The dense jungles are home to primitive tribes and until the 1980s hid Japanese soldiers who had no idea World War II had ended.

Nagano Yamanouchi

Posted on June 25th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

Yamanouchi is an ancient village in the Japanese Alps, in the Prefecture of Nagano. Snow monkeys live in the forests and bathe in the volcanic hot springs. For a few months the forests are free of snow and the monekys give birth to many offspring.

A protective Mother.

Geysers shoot boiling water up from the volcanic ground.

While melted snow fuels the icy waterfalls.

Mother and Child in the forest.

Yamanouchi is an ancient village built atop thousands of hot springs. Buildings are heated naturally.

Social life revolves around the baths.

Inside a men’s bath. Cold water is mixed with hot to create a bath of 42 C ( 107 F ) .

A Zen Dinner at the Ryokan.


Posted on June 25th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

No words.

Kyoto on High Speed Shinkansen

Posted on June 24th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

The best way to explore Japan is on the 200 mph , 320 kph High Speed Shinkansen network on Japan Rail. The Japan Rail Pass allows 7 days of unlimited travel for $ 279 – only non-resident foreigners are eligible. Distances in Japan are great – but seem close on these trains that seem to fly along the ground.

In Kyoto, the highest pagoda in Japan.

A Shinto Shrine.

Kyoto has delicious cuisine. Here is some venison sashimi.


And Bee Larvae


Posted on June 24th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

Japan does not normally conjure images of adventure, but ArcticTropic stopped in for several days to be totally immersed in this vibrant modern/ancient culture.

Tokyo is always the City of the Future.

Gundam ! Japan s the world’s merchandising capital.

Food choices not found elsewhere.

In vibrant Shinjuku ,where we stayed.

The best neon anywhere.

Our flight trajectory did not take us over North Korea even though we were in a Chinese plane. We passed about 50 miles south of that path.

Beijing Briefly

Posted on June 17th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

There are only two ways to fly to Japan from Ulaanbataar, either though Seoul or Beijing, Beijing was the cheaper option and one of our travelers had not yet been there.

China has recently instituted a 72 hour visa-free program. One must be flying from one country,though a major city in China with an international airport and then fly on to a third country. One may not leave that city in that time frame.

Unlike last year at his time,Beijing skies were incredibly clear on a beautiful very dry 90 degree day.

Distant mountains were visible ! Third time in Beijing and first time seeing them.

A two hour flight on our Round The World Adventure.

The East is Red. But Capitalist.

Snake For Dinner.