It was just another regular day at the mine, said "Super Mario" Sepulveda, one of the recently rescued Chilean miners, when he realized he was trapped: "I could see two big rocks up ahead that were blocking the shaft. That was a moment of utter despair. I came back down and had to tell the other guys there was no way out." The men took a vow of silence — "a pact of brotherhood" — promising not to talk about the experience. It was "hell," Sepulveda says, so why relive it? Also, some of the other guys misbehaved and got all Lord of the Flies–like down there, Sepulveda admits, and they were protecting each other. Until now. To clear up the rumors, "Super Mario" Sepulveda is telling his story:
"We are used to working in darkness — we are miners. But we used the light to work by and eat and to reward ourselves and boost morale. We had water. It tasted foul but it didn't poison us, even though it was tainted. We allowed ourselves a few small sips each day. The 17 days before [aid reached them] were pure hell."
According to the News, "'Silence' sparked rumors among family members and in the press that the miners were having — and hiding — sex." Really? This is news to us. We hadn't heard those rumors. Anyway, the trapped Chilean miner sex didn't happen: "Nothing like that ever went on. We were too busy trying to survive to think of sex. Saying we had sex down there with each other is just plain wrong." Some strange things did happen, though:
The reason to keep quiet about that time, he said, was because of how some of the men behaved. Sepulveda would not talk about specifics, but indicated there were fights and the "younger, less educated" men had a lot of difficulty dealing with the situation.
For a moment, we wondered if Super Mario was suddenly trying to get famous, by talking. Could he become the Face of the Chilean Mine, and leave his family behind to head to Hollywood? Alas, who can argue with this:
"I am a miner," he said. "I will always be a miner ... I am a humble man and I am happy to have played a small part in an event which has made the world come together, if just for a moment."
That is beautiful. You can't buy that kind of publicity-coaching.