Then, on September 19 Isabel goes with President Piñera and some of his staff and ministers in the presidential plane and then by helicopter to visit the 33 miners who are trapped in a copper mine in Copiapó. The men have been essentially buried alive since August 5th. After a week, the rescuers were ready to give up, but the miners’ women (wives, mothers, sisters, daughters) camped out near the site and demanded that the search continue because they KNEW their men were alive. On the 17th day the rescuers heard tapping and knew the miners were alive. Rescuers and family members now communicate with the miners through a narrow pipe that has been drilled half a mile down into the cavern. On an earlier visit to the mine the president had received their first message, written on a piece of paper torn from a notebook: “Estamos bien, en el refugio, los 33.” “We are OK, in the refuge, the 33.” It’s a perfect haiku! Since then the whole world has become aware of their plight. The miners can both see and be seen via a TV connection, and on this day President Piñera shows them a baby girl, born a couple of days before, named Esperanza (Hope), for obvious reasons. Isabel shows them 33 T-shirts she brought with her and explains that 33 swimmers had “escaped” from Alcatraz, the former island prison in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, swimming in honor of the trapped miners. She told them that just as the swimmers had escaped from Alcatraz, the miners would eventually escape from their prison underground. Each T-shirt has the name of both a swimmer and a miner. One of the swimmers is Isabel’s son Nico, “the light of my eyes,” as she calls him.
|Nico and Isabel|