The humblest of moments are birthed from the blood, sweat, and tears of others, usually unknown to us, as we put ourselves in their shoes upon the discovery of their existence and story. Today was no exception as the key to Guanajuato’s inception became something more than photos or words within a book; opened by minds yearning to explore. The Silver mines in the state of Guanajuato brought it: fame, glory, and wealth. However, this came at a cost larger than what you and I could ever know.
Steep steps, darkness, humidity, and heat slap us in the face as we trek deeper into the ground. Subtle hints of struggle, combined with hope, in the mine make its presence known as one journeys into the unknown. It isn’t until we arrive at the bottom that the magnitude of pain these walls scream through their battle-scared surfaces express; helping to bring to fruition this turmoil in our minds. This is the point at which humility begins to pierce through our ignorance.
The silver mines, dating as far back as the mid 1500’s, were a source of both power and money for those in control of it. Through fierce, unforgiving pressure from the Spaniards, Guanajuato marked its place in history; both for Spain, and the free Mexico yet to come. As the years progressed, and working conditions became too much to bare, the people beckoned for freedom from oppression. Thus, paving the way for Father Miguel Hidalgo to motivate a nation to seek a new future.
Conditions in the silver mines brought misery and struggle to those who worked there. As our group climbed down, we got a taste of the sheer hell one would have faced toiling in those tunnels. Solid rocks starting at ground level, short, narrow tunnels that would have been the ire of any man of height, and intense heat slapping you in the face as you travel deeper into the belly of the mountain all help to paint a picture of the situation one might endure working in the mine. This environment, coupled with the Spanish’s presence, fueled the army of Hidalgo to independence. This is the same army who would be responsible for overthrowing the Spanish after 11 years of war. It was a war hard fought by the hands of families seeking freedom, whose efforts brought forth to the world a country of power governed solely by the people living within its boundaries.
The freedom Mexicans take for granted today was gained not by the blood spilled in battle, but rather, by the blood spilt in the silver mines of Guanajuato. Their sacrifice towards a better life, despite such adversity and segregation, planted the seed for revolution. As time passed, the warriors of Hidalgo’s time harvested these fruits, and used its power to fuel the fight for freedom; a freedom comparable to that of our nation’s own.