November 18th, 2010
01:45 PM ET

Producer's Notebook: Rescued miners come to U.S.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/11/18/art.garyrestaurant.jpg caption="CNN's Gary Tuchman returned to Chile last week to meet with the rescued miners including Daniel Esteban Herrera Campos, pictured here."]
Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

(CNN) - It was the chant we heard for days: "Los Mineros de Chile!"

A month ago Gary Tuchman and I were in Copiapo, Chile covering the mine rescue at the San Jose mine. It was rare to cover an event where there was a happy outcome.

We were perched atop the mountainside along with hundreds of other journalists from around the world as the miners were resurfacing one by one. We could hear the cheers coming from around the capsule as each miner reached the outside of the collapsed mine for the first time in 69 days.

“Chi, Chi, Chi, Le, Le, Le, Los Mineros de Chile!”

The chant was everywhere; it was fun to watch the families and friends celebrate with each rescue.

There were celebrations, tears, singing and music blaring inside Camp Hope, the makeshift camp where the families of the miners lived after their loved ones became trapped inside the mine.

Last week, Gary Tuchman and I returned to Chile and met up with many of the miners for the first time. We spent the days getting to know them and learning about their incredible time inside the mine. We heard stories of faith, of an incredible will to survive, of fear and, most importantly, of hope.

Over dinner, we heard how many of the men struggle with what happened during those first days. They have trouble sleeping as their minds go back to those days when they weren’t sure they would be found. Some say they have an incredible faith in God and are positive that it was God's will that they’d be found.

The miners formed an incredible bond during their time inside the mine. They say that they didn’t really know each other very well before they went inside. But now they’re brothers who look out for each other on the outside, just as they did as they struggled to survive on the inside.

We were able to meet them as all 33 of the miners and 5 of their rescuers were preparing to head to Los Angeles. The miners and rescuers were invited by CNN to attend "Heroes," an annual program now in its fourth year that shines a light on "everyday people changing the world."

Related: Freed miners arrive in the U.S. for CNN tribute to heroes

For the majority of the group, this is their first trip to the United States. While they don't like being in the spotlight or the newfound fame that has come along with their incredible experience, they are all excited to come to the U.S. and experience a little slice of Americana.

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Ismael Estrada
soundoff (One Response)
  1. BettyAnn, Nacogdoches,TX

    Gary~ You did an excellent job coving the miners in Chilie. I'll bet this is the type of story with a happy ending that makes your job worthwhile. Thank you!

    November 18, 2010 at 3:37 pm |