Ok, ok ok! I see the vultures flying overhead! I know you're all going into withdrawals since there haven't been any decent posts as of late, so here you go! Today, I decided that before I get busy with homework, I would go on a little field trip. All you desert dogs following out there will like this update as much as I enjoyed the experience! Guanajuato was founded as a mining town, a very log time ago. And any town founded as such, is sure to have a mine or two not far away! Well Guanajuato is no exception. I hailed a taxi and went to the Mina Nopal! (Nopal Mine) This mine operated for 40 years, from 1868 to 1908. Since the mine was no longer operational, It was given to the University of Guanajuato for use in their metallurgy, engineering programs. Today, The University still uses it and the students give tours in their spare time to help raise a little money. Not long after entering the mine, there's a chapel! The miners or mineros, were a very religious lot and would pray before the beginning of their shift for an accident free shift. There was also a performance stage where miners would perform various skits for the entertainment of their fellow workers. You can see the seats they would sit on, and down in that hole, was the stage! A ladder used to climb up into an area they were working. One of the pneumatic drills used to drill the holes used for placing explosives, and to let air escape during the blast. You can see the upside down triangle below and right of the drill. These holes were for explosives, the others around it are to let the air displaced during the explosion to escape. Here I am, very thankful that this was not my chosen profession! If any of you want to know what's it's like to be a miner, there's a book out there called "The making of a hard rock miner". It's a good read and tells the story of a guy who dives in the Caribbean, and during one of the off seasons, he decided to give mining a try. A small opening in one of quartz veins. Some shots down the main drift, or tunnel. In mines, the words used to describe "tunnels" are, a drift (mostly level), an incline (goes up at an angle), a decline (goes down at an angle), a shaft (goes mostly straight down) and a raise (goes primarily straight up). This mine has all of these. Calcium deposits from where the water is seeping in. A side drift heading off to another area where the main vein was worked. You can see the brown discolored area that was the vein of ore they were following. The lower line is a high pressure air line used to supply air for the drills. This drift goes to a stairway leading down to some of the lower levels. The students use the stairway to gain access to the next level down. It's a 400 meter climb! I explained to the student on my tour that in the U.S., these stairs would actually be a ladder of sorts made from wood. In Mexico, because wood is scarce, the carved the steps in the rock! An empty drill waiting for someone to fire it up! Any takers???????? This cavernous room was at the end of the main drift. It contained a large shaft and raise and a fairly modern elevator system no longer in use. I was told that when the mine was in operation, miners and ore was raised and lowered by hand. I looked and did not see the tell tale signs of big winch equipment being used, so i'm fairly confident he was on track. Here's the main shaft. The bottom three levels of the mine are completely flooded. The level of the water is approximately 180 meters deep! Our guide dropped a rock, the size of a softball and it took 4 seconds to hit the water! I'm sure there's a mathematician out there that has the formula for the time, distance equation to figure approximate distance to the water! The larger line on the left is high pressure air, the smaller one on the right is water. Water was used and injected through the drill bit to mitigate dust in the air. Early miners did not have this "luxury" and most would get a lung illness called silicosis and die an early death. Here's the electrical panel that was going to be used to pump water out of the mine. Well, the government "determined" the water was contaminated due to the contact with the metals in the mine, Gold, Silver and Zinc. They slapped this big sticker on the panel, and tore off the electrical conduit so it could not be used. Here's crappy shot of an automotive engine used at the mine. I was going to do a "free beer tomorrow" thing but I think the shot is no good. A bell commemorating the 1810 Mexican Independence. One of the many statues in the city in honor of the miners that worked in the mines. There are still, to this day, several mines in operation not far from town! Well folks, that about wraps up the field trip to "Mina Nopal"! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! Until next time, Adios!