Playing the ‘Green Lottery’: Life Inside Colombia’s Emerald Mines – by Juan Pablo Ramirez (New York Times – January 4, 2021)

I was half a mile into the mine shaft, and my heart was racing. Hunched underneath the low ceiling and hardly able to see, I was following along by listening to the splashes of the men’s steps in front of me.

The water, dripping from above, was up to my ankles. Then we stopped. We’d come to a dead end, one of the miners said. In order for us to proceed, they needed to set off some dynamite.

In a matter of minutes, several packs of explosives were drilled into the mountain and ready to be detonated. I was told to open my mouth and not close it until the last of the dynamite had exploded.

The blasts began, and I sensed the mountain groaning around me. Then: complete silence. Ten seconds later, as the dust began to settle, one of the miners shouted, “Lets go! It’s time to see what we got.”

Less than a month earlier, I was living a comfortable life in Dubai. Though I was born in Colombia, I left the country at age 18 to attend college in the United States — and, since then, had followed my work elsewhere around the world.

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