Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Welcome To My World (3): Chile underground

Mine! Elvis underground
Edison Pena, 34, spent nearly four months 700 metres down in the San Jose mine, in Chile's Atacama desert this year, after tunnels collapsed. He was lifted out, 14th of 33, on October 13th in a claustrophobic capsule to face friends, family and round-the-clock media.

Edison conquered some of his fear and panic by running - up to eight kilometres a day - through the mine's tunnels in his boots and helmet with lamp. When contact was made, and after essentials - food, water and clothing - were sent down to the men, they were able to ask for other items. Among that material was Elvis music, requested by Edison Pena. It's a moot point as to whether Edison wanted it as sing-song material to keep the spirits of his team up, or whether he wanted to retreat into an Elvis acoustic bubble.
On emerging from his incarceration in the Earth Edison Pena was invited to run the New York marathon - which he completed in under six hours - not bad for someone who's been 700 metres underground for most of the training period. Before his run, he appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman. On being asked about Elvis, he mimicked listening to the King on headphones, he liked to listen alone, and sang a few bars of Suspicious Minds. As the studio band's keyboard player picked up the tune, Edison was quick to respond, and stood up to perform (go to 3:48 if you just want Elvis, watch the whole thing if you want a bit more - sanitation, the vernacular use of 'funky'). Last night, he performed Summer Nights alongside Olivia Newton-John (who incidentally went to my school) at a concert in Santiago. He's now been invited to Graceland with a significant other for Elvis' birthday in 2011.
Pic credit: Worldwide Pants
While underground, Pena engaged in correspondence with the BBC's Panorama team. In one of his letters, very often full of darkness and anxiety, he wrote: "I think that now I'm more human. I think I'm loving everybody more, I believe in touching people. I think I love myself much more." In running the marathon, he wanted to encourage people to do what they can do. It's a hazy but rather wonderful philosophy. Think globally, act Elvisly.  

Pics: http://www.batangastoday.com/chilean-miner-edison-pena-on-the-late-show-with-david-letterman/5251/ and http://www.sustainabilityninja.com/eco-news/chilean-miner-edison-pena-finishes-new-york-city-marathon-44077/

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