Can You Dig?

“You fear to go into those mines. The Dwarves delved too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dum… shadow and flame.”

This is what Saruman tells Gandalf (using wizard telepathic powers) as the Fellowship faces hardship through the pass of Caradhras and contemplates an alternative route to reach Mordor.

The Dwarfs are known for their greed, and apparently, some people think they are like dwarfs in this sense. That one is “digging too deep” can be seen as some sort of prophecy that ambition will consume us, that our obsession with our own ego will destroy us. As you read this post, keep that in mind that there’s more than gold and rare earths underneath. While there definitely are people digging for gold; others (like my sister who is a geologist) just dig because they enjoy it; others dig to hide; and others, like me, dig because we are obsessed with the finding of roots and answers… or questions. In the process, we run into a lot of dirt and shit and sometimes surprises like the one I want to share with you in what remains of this post.

For my first post, I want try reactions to this picture. This is a picture taken at the former salt mine of Nemocón, in Cundinamarca, Colombia. When the mine was retired form salt production, it was turned into a Cathedral- a rather appropriate purpose, given the dominantly catholic local culture.

Mines are dangerous places: they are dark and narrow, there’s hardly any ventilation, and miners handle explosives to open new chambers. Salt mines are not an exception. This place is sublime. It is dark and cold and humid. The air is heavy. It is intimidating, and during its years of operation, miners would built small worship sites in every corner to pray to the Virgin Mary for the mountain not to collapse. There has been a tremendous effort to preserve that spirit of devotion and to displace the fear that darkness and uncertainty inspire. This is truly a beautiful, humbling place where asphyxia is turned into enlightenment.

This is a place that invites you to dig deeper: in this salt mine, the darker it gets, the more colors you can find and the more playful the cave becomes. Don’t confuse ambition with curiosity, dedication, devotion or simply with the joy of digging. I normally like reaching high places, like mountain tops. I also enjoyed this low, dark, cold sanctuary.

Laura en la Mina de Sal de Nemocon

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