Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 29

This morning the bus dropped us off at the end of the road that leads to the mines. We were greeted by four people speaking to us very quickly in Spanish. After a few minutes, they stopped to wait for our answer to a question I didn't understand, and I told them that I understood very little of what they had said. This made them all burst out into laughter. Maggie and Kayla were behind me with confused expressions. Now that Keren has gone, I speak the most Spanish in our group. Despite the difficulties I have in understanding people, it's exciting to have to try harder, to use what I know to understand and be understood. I'm always amazed at how well I am actually able to do this when I have to.

We walked the 2.5K down the road in the sun, and I couldn't keep myself from stopping to dig out random crystals that had been packed into the roadside by passing cars. Young children were running out to the road to ask for money, or hoping to sell us crystals they had collected or metal trees with rocks for leaves, wrapped around bigger crystals so they looked like bonsai.We passed this on our walk in towards the mines:
We asked if we could enter the mines ourselves, but were told that we needed to take a tour to see them because they are too dangerous otherwise. Our tour was in Spanish, and I translated for Maggie and Kayla... I'm sure much was lost in translation, but we understood a surprising amount too!

Here are a couple of amethyst geodes in the ceiling of one of the mines we went into. They were huge- about as big around as a soccer ball!

Ramon (our tour guide) said that Argentina is covered in red clay because of the oxide ash or gas from volcanoes nearby. One day, a woman was washing her clothes in the river and she cut her hand on a piece of calcite in the river. She noticed other crystals too, and somehow that led to the discovery of this giant piece of black rock that is full of geodes. They are huge, some of them many meters long, and Ramon took us into the caves (dug by the miners) to see them. The miners use jackhammers, explosives, and hand tools to extract the geodes, and if they don't wear respirators while they work, their life expectancy is only 45 years because inhaling the rock dust causes pulmonary disease. It's strange to think that extracting geodes is worth it given the lives at stake and the destruction of habitat and ecosystem... How much are miners paid, and how much can they sell geodes for? It seems crazy.

You can't go into the mines without a fancy hardhat...
This machine was huge. It's used to help with extraction of all of the geodes somehow... I was a bit unclear as to how. Maybe for cleaning rock bits off of them?
Ramon said that it's good to touch the crystals with your left hand, it brings positive energy (touching with the right hand brings negative energy) because of the direction of energy flow to the heart. He said that rose quartz brings harmony in the family.
These water plants have beautiful blue flowers in the spring we were told. They were floating in pools of water with geodes embedded in the rock all around.
Here is quartz above and rose quarts below:
I thought this spider might be sad, but Ramon assured me that he was quite well. Apparently this is a decent place to catch a snack.
Interesting leaves growing in pots in Wanda:
We took a remis (taxi) to the bus station in town.
Maggie and the hooties have been enjoying coke in bottles... It's made with sugar here instead of corn syrup (like in the states), and I must say: it's pretty delicious!
After lunch sat talking to a man who sells chipas to support his son's studies in Paraguay.
Some images from our ride home to Obera:
This little girl and I had a good game of peek-a-boo going on the bus...
The cemetaries look so different here!
Passing houses and stores...
and Argentina's tiny vistas:

We arrived back in Obera, and took the last bus home in the dark. As we neared the end of our walk down the driveway we could hear laughing and music. A joyous reception awaited us; everyone was up, singing, chatting, and sharing stories. Tonight we welcome five new interns: Marisa, Steve, Jess, Clayton, and Jo. They come from the US, Canada, and Brittain. While everyone seems very sweet, it's also strange to return home and feel displaced... I'm not sure where we fit in anymore (would it have been different if we had been here when they arrived this morning?), and our group dynamic will be different for sure. Different is uncomfortable, but exciting too, and encourages more opportunity for growth, I think. So that's good... I am sure after a day or three it will feel like we had all been here together all along. I wonder what the rest of the month will look like.

No comments:

Post a Comment