We decided to do the touristy thing today and took a taxi into Magdalena to take a tour into an Opal Mine. Kevin and Ruth would be appalled with us for paying 120 pesos there and 130 pesos back, being 25 kilometers away....but we felt it was worth it and were willing to bear the humiliation. lol. We tried to take a bus first, but we missed it by 10 minutes and they only run every 2 hours.
This wall is built using rocks from the Opal mine. Potentially it could be worth an enormous amount of money. To find the opals, every stone is hammered into pieces.
I joked with the tour guide (the owners son) that perhaps the road to the mine should be paved in opals too. ha!
This is the entrance to mine. Our tour was small, being the guide and Gerry and I, so we were treated very well.
The quarry must have been 100 feet deep. We went at siesta time, so no miners were down there when we first arrived.
Down we go.
They dynamite holes into the walls, knocking huge bolders down. The bolders are dragged out into the middle and they just start hacking away at them with picks and hammers.
There was a cave blasted into the wall, it was black so I didn't want to go into it. I just turned on my flash and voila...rocks! That was about as far inside as I was going.
There were about 35 miners that work this quarry. This is one of their mornings findings. They just left it sitting there as if it wasn't precious stones. I was quite surprised. We were each given a pick hammer and told we could keep all the opals we found. Carefully, so as not to hurt ourselves we set about bashing up a bunch of rocks. I didn't find anything, Gerry found 2 small pieces with opals.
The tour guide found close to 20 of them and gave them all to us. Nice!!!!
When we got back, Martin picked out two of our opals to polish up. He and his 3 brothers each took a grinder and passed them around, each grinder being finer and finer. The last step they used milk to wet the grinder and stone to polish it up beautifully.
Here are our two beautiful opals. Martin told us they would be worth about 150 pesos each even though they are very different sizes. The smaller one is a better quality.