Stories > Pirquineros

In the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world, situated in the north of Chile, the continuous hammering on the rocks disturbs the absolute silence that reigns over this vast region. It’s in the small veins of gold and copper that surge to the surface that these ancient miners can be found extracting the precious metal. These veins are followed to the depths of the earth, were only a few dare to go. In one of the harshest life conditions on earth, this men risk their lives every day in search of the metal that will solve their economical troubles - and their families- for at least a while. But uncertainty is always present and the line that they have been following for months could disappear in the blink of an eye, and so do their dreams.
Greed is believed to be the cause of the misfortune of many miners. For this reason they have chosen a simple and upright life, free from frenzied ambitions. To be a pirquinero, - Jose, a 80 year old miner - says "you also have to be cook, launderer, geologist, freighter, mill worker, perforator, builder and economist, all learned at the school of life".
This way of life has made these miners bullet proof; but in this solitudes is where the true nature of man blooms (or at least that's how I experienced it), words like selfishness don't belong there. There will be always room, a plate of food, hot tea and good conversation for an outsider; this same person could be receiving you somewhere out there sometime, this is law here or actually the way things have to work.
Every year, a handful of these miners loose their life working in the most unsafe conditions in the mining industry. In their case they'll probably die alone like they have been working thought their life.

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