Manganese mines in the Christoffel park

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On thursday October 31, 2013 we went to the Christoffel park to visit the manganese mines. This was a special hike because about 5 years ago Fred, his sister Rita, and François went also to these mines with a delegation of the Christoffel park. This became the start of weekly hikes by François and Fred to search for often forgotten remains of the history of Curaçao. I joined these 2 pioneers after my retirement in may 2010 and in the meantime this is grown into a group of enthousiastic "archaeology sleuths". 

Mangaanmijn Christoffelpark 20131031 008 smallThere was a period at the end of the 19th century (around 1880) that there has been a mining industry in Curaçao. Searches for Copper and Manganese were not very successful, but mining of phosphate became very profitable. The manganese mines were abandoned rather quickly. In the past we already visited the manganese mining site at Jerimi and today we visited the mines on one of the hills in the Christoffel Park, the Seru Francisco Jobo. The mining operation at Jerimi is on the other side of this same hill.
Bert, an intern working in the Christoffel Park, joined us. He arranged our free entrance into the park and opened normally closed gates so that we could reach the foot of the hill where the mines are located by car.
From the place where we parked our cars two dark rubble mounds were visisble on the flank of the hill. The rubble is from the mining operation. 

There is a path from the dirt road to the first rubble mound. There we took a first rest and tried to get some cover against the rain. In vain, because there were no large trees so we all got thoroughly wet. 
From the first mound we had to find our way to the second. This was a bit more difficult but still far easier than we are used to. From there we continued uphill in the direction of the GPS-waypoint of the mine that Fred had taken during his previous visit. We ended up too high and had to go down to reach the entrance of the most intact mine. Entering the mine was not easy, we had to crawl, but inside we could easily stand upright. Of course it was dark inside so we had to use flashlights to see what was there. The mine is a corridor of about 30 meters long and broad enough to pass each other easily. The walls have interesting colors as can be seen in the pictures under this article. There were also bats inside the mine, spiders on the wall and the skeleton of at least one goat.

In the neighborhood there is a second mine but the entrance of this one is blocked, probably on purpose. I took a picture through the opening and this shows a short corridor. It could be that this was only a trial mine or that it is collapsed. There is a third mine here but that is no more than a wide pit in the ground.

After visiting the mines we descended the hill and went back to the entrance of the park, where Bert treated us on a drink in the restaurant.

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