Today we went to Santa Clara. It’s amazing to see our huge bus wend it’s way through the narrow streets. The bus has steerable rear wheels as well as a great driver Roberto so that helps. 

We never really know how far we have to walk when we leave the bus as it’s hard to park in such a small town. But Dan does a really good job and with Roberto and some times a few pesos, we don’t often have to walk far.

Today we were at the copper foundry ‘El Puertón’ in the town of  Santa Clara del Cobre. They gave a great half-hour presentation of how they make the items from scrap copper. They use copper from old wire, electric motors, old pots and pans and anything else made of copper as the mines ran out years ago.

The copper is melted into chunks of various sizes depending on the size of the piece being made and then the pounded flat like this:

All the items are hand made and some take up to six months to complete. The only mechanical thing in the place was the fan to blow air for the forge.

When he took it out of the water it was clean and ice cold because copper is such a good conductor.

The copper trade is a very generational thing. One of the guys, Miguel, is the fourth generation of crafters and his son is also Miguel or Miguelita. Miguelita is like an apprentice. He goes to school during the day and learns his trade in his spare time. They have to start young to find out if he’s any good, also to see if he wants to continue in the trade. He says he’s liking it so far as the tourist give him tips.

The piece on the left took three months to make and sells for 9,000 pesos or about $630

After the presentation, we went to the store and because there was a lot of stuff, Rosalie bought most of it. She said that, as I had purchased a $130 guitar, she had the leverage of $1,300. Of course I jest. We have been really good on this trip and kept spending to a minimum. Having said that, we thought we would need to visit an ATM to top up. We did, however, buy a copper water bottle. It’s quite beautiful and of course very healthy.

Our day didn’t end here so now we are off to see some architectural ruins.


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