Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Chilean miners emerge
I have just watched the fourth bleary-eyed miner emerge from 69 days of gloom into the bright sunlight of a Chilean morning, greeted by his pretty wife and also by El Presidente and HIS blonde trophy wife, both clutching a small paper Bolivian flag. (Miner no. 4 was Bolivian).
I hope the 33rd and last miner remembers to clean up and shut off the lights as he leaves the cavern.
It's a remarkable tale of grim survival and state of the art engineering as each body in turn cocoons itself in a narrow metal cage for 20 minutes and undergoes what so many thousands of claustrophobic patients undergo every month as they are launched into the tube of a scanner.
El Billonaire Presidente and his bubbly mining minister are happy too, if only because they have ensured their political future at the next election and the President is happily thankful he can assist at this "final stage" as he described it.
But this is not really "final" and there is a sequel for the 33. It will involve redundancy packages, shutdown of the bankrupt mine, the brutality of adjusting the emotionally damaged miners to their deprived poverty stricken families, the offer of fame and arc lights for those capable of surviving in a fish tank as the world's media watches them patronisingly, commenting on the unravelling of their lives for the next months before those camera disappear for ever. (Unless of course Andrew Lloyd Webber writes an Evita-style music show about it). Perhaps the luckier ones will manage the mine itself when it becomes a tourist attraction and tourists can pay USD1000 each to relive the experience of the cave and the capsule.
Each miner has been given a gold medallion by Polish coal miners. Keep it mate, use it for prayer, and retain it for a rainy day. The rain will come, even in the dry Atacama Desert.