An 8:30 start saw 50 of us set off for the Mining Park at La Union near Cartagena. With a total area of 50,000 sq metres this park contains the refurbished Agrupa Vincenta mine, one of 1200 in the Sierra Minera. We had our brains exercised on the coach by a music quiz with a mining theme set by Ken Cross and this made the journey seem much quicker than the actual time of just under two hours.
We arrived at La Union in time to have a stroll around the town and a much needed coffee and comfort break. Thanks to Lorenzo for negotiating the narrow streets and ensuring we did not have too far to walk!
Meeting back at the entrance to the mining park, we watched a short video presentation and then climbed aboard a train (typical of those in most tourist towns and always avoided until now by one member of the group) and followed a tortuous route up the mountainside with a commentary in English and Spanish. On arriving at the mine entrance we were split into two groups and while one group went to start the tour, our group was given a detailed explanation of the various mining buildings and their functions. We wondered what was causing the raucous laughter from the other group but it was soon clear. When it was our turn to enter the mine, we were given a “health and safety talk” (yes in Spain!) and asked to don hairnets and hard hats, not the most flattering of headgear!.
And so the tour underground began. The mine was dedicated to the extraction of pyrite (fool’s gold) until the middle of the 20th century, and as we descended down through four levels of the mine to a depth of 80 metres the guide gave detailed explanations at each level. Down at the fourth level there was an amazing lake coloured red due to the effects of the pyrite and the photographers amongst us had a field day! Above our heads (quite low in places) epsom salts were evident and occasional drips of water. Luckily we did not have to climb up the four levels, and we left the mine taking the route following the cradles that would have carried the minerals to the exit. It reminded me a bit of the Indiana Jones film but without being chased by an enormous ball!
Taking the tourist train again we returned to the coach and set off for the Espacio Mediterráneo just outside Cartagena. Most of us headed to our favourite restaurants for a menu del día but we also had time for some retail therapy.
The journey back was very quiet apart from some gentle snoring and we arrived back safely after a very successful, enjoyable and informative trip.