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Notes from Underneath: "All 33 of us are fine in the shelter."

Notes from Underneath

A California girl in Chilsters (that's Chile to you)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


"All 33 of us are fine in the shelter."

I'm not the kind of person who is moved to tears easily. Unless I'm watching a cheesy commercial then of course, all bets are off and the waterworks begin. However, this story about the miners and how they were found to be alive after 17 days trapped 2,300 feet below ground, under the San Jose mine near Copiapo Chile, moved me. Of course I cried.

I cried because these human beings, after living 17 days in a small area I've read is similar to a "small flat," have genuine hope in their eyes. Putting myself in their position, in the faintest of ways, I'm sure I don't come close to the relief they felt when the probe finally reached them and they had the first opportunity to communicate with the world above. And they did so with the note above which simply reads "All 33 of us are fine in the shelter."

"Fine" is a relative term. They're fine relative to what the other option could have been which is ... a dreadful extreme. I always think logistics and really ridiculous details most of the time, though. In this case I wonder what it feels like for them to not shower, to not have a beer, to not watch soccer, to not smell freshly baked bread, to not drive ... to not change underwear, to not brush their teeth, to not hug their wives/girlfriends. Now that this has happened, do they regret the decision to work in the mines? Is that even an option for these experienced miners or is it just their way of life, the way trains or "ferrocarriles" were a way of life for my grandfather.

They haven't yet learned that it will take anywhere from 3-4 months to build a shaft wide enough to bring them up one by one. I was thinking that by the time this is finally accomplished, it will be Christmas time here ... isn't that perfect timing? Not for them though. I'm sure they wish they could be with their families for the upcoming Independence day celebrations (Chileans are a patriotic bunch, especially on the 18th of September and ESPECIALLY since this year marks 200 years since Chileans won their independence from Spain.) I'm sure they wish they could just have their own space, up top, right NOW.

How will they feel once they learn that they have to keep surviving, keep their sanity and keep each other going for at least three more months, probably four? Four months can fly but only with activity and experience. Four months ago it was April (the month I got married) and it definitely puts the length of four months into perspective.

When they pull the miners out one by one in December, flash forward to the future when you see those same images on a screen, reciting a story. This is for sure the story of a made-for-tv movie. Or a tell-all book. In the meantime, I hope the most basic of things for them right now - sanity and comradery.

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Um yeah, I get claustrophobic in a hot elevator after several minutes, so as great as this story is, it pains me to think about what they are actually going through.
it's so horrifying - how to keep your mind occupied. how to keep from going absolutely crazy. how to find hope in such a seemingly impossible situation (sure, they say 3-4 months but so much can change from now until then. i'm thinking about all those post-earthquake tremors. surely something like that could complicate/further imperil the lives of those trapped beneath). my heart goes out to them and to their families. it must be absolute torture. first you fear that your father/husband/brother is dead, then you are elated to hear that he is alive, then you fear that they may die and in those horrifying circumstances. i can't even imagine the anguish that this is causing family members. funny that i'm reading this now as i was jsut talking about this with my parents over lunch. it's like a truly awful situation, you know? trapped underground. it's like something out of some existentialist/absurdist novel that you read in a philosophy class. only it's real. every time i read anything about this situation i totally tear up - you're def not alone on that one. i think it's good that you're writing about this and i like that you're asking all these questions. what i've seen (not too much) is that the chilean media is oh so happy about the fact that they're alive. sure, it's good that they're not dead but this type of torture isn't exactly something to rejoice over. and what if they don't make it? all of this in vain? if i believed in god i'd pray for these poor men.
I still don't understand why it is going to take so long for them to get out? There must be something they can do to get those poor guys out of there. I can't believe they're all still alive, that's so truly amazing.Hopefully they all really like each other because they're going to have to depend on one other for the next couple months to keep sane.
Kyle: bc they are inside a solid rock mountain, it's difficult to dig rock. Check this vid.
That video is really useful actually, as it explains a lot! Thank you!
I kept tearing up too when I heard! I was certain they were dead and really had no hope, so to hear that they were all fine was incredible. I hope that they and their families are able to all support each other and get through these next few months as quickly as possible, and I hope that the government takes action to make sure that mines (and all workplaces, for that matter) make their employees' safety more of a priority rather than it all having been pretty speeches but no change.

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