Thursday, July 17
Sixty-Nine Days - Héctor Tobar
"The San José Mine is situated inside a round, rocky, and lifeless mountain in the Atacama Desert, in Chile. Once every dozen years or so, a storm system sweeps across the desert, dropping a torrent of rain. When that happens, the dust turns to mud as thick as freshly poured concrete. Charles Darwin briefly passed through this corner of the Atacama in 1835. In his journal, he described the desert as 'a barrier far worse than the most turbulent ocean.' In the deeper desert, miners are the only conspicuous living presence; they ride in trucks and buses to the mountains, which contain gold, copper, and iron. The minerals draw workers to the Atacama from all over Chile. On the evening of August 3, 2010, Juan Carlos Aguilar began a bus journey of more than a thousand miles to reach the San José Mine, leaving from the temperate rain forests near Valdivia."