Here in Copiapó, Chile it’s a little past 2AM.

The cars have stopped honking, the music and announcements are no longer carrying to my room two blocks away from Plaza de Armas. People have to work in the morning and all I hear is my fingers’ tiny drumming sound, a big dog barking about a block away and the fan of my laptop.

BUT LESS THAN TWO hours ago, the city was in a jubilant uproar for the safe return of all 33 miners from the dense, more than mile deep barrier from themselves and everything they love in the world. When all of them were breathing the same fresh air and under the same bright Chilean stars, everything seemed better than good. And I have to say, it still does.

1

Revelers in Plaza de Armas in downtown Copiapó pose for the camera

1.Revelers in Plaza de Armas in downtown Copiapó pose for the camera.

2

Teenagers run to get free coke. Brought to you by Coke. Free.

2. Teenagers run to get free coke. Brought to you by Coke. Free. (The announcement pumped through bungalow high speakers by a manic radio DJ got to be a bit much.)

3

He said he was the neighbor of the last miner, Luis Urzua, and was celebrating his imminent return in the plaza with friends

3.This guy was so happy, he couldn't keep his hands off me (or his friends for that matter). He said he was the neighbor of the last miner, Luis Urzúa, and was celebrating his imminent return in the plaza with friends.

4

In English, this says,

4.In English, this says, "Rescuers: Wash Me.

5

Teenage guys head to the plaza with their giant drum.

5.Teenage guys head to the plaza with their giant drum.

6

The President, Sebastián Piñera, addresses the public live.

6.The President, Sebastián Piñera, addresses the public live.

7

A homeless man sleeps under layers of blankets while horns honk and music and announcements are blasted over the plaza.

7.A homeless man sleeps under layers of blankets while horns honk and music and announcements are blasted over the plaza.

8

A jubilant crowd stops cars until they start honking their horns, and then lets them pass.

8.A jubilant crowd stops cars until they start honking their horns, and then lets them pass.

9

María Segovia, sister of miner Darío Segovia being interviewed back at Campamento Esperanza.

9.María Segovia, sister of miner Darío Segovia being interviewed back at Campamento Esperanza. According to Cooperativa.cl, when asked if she might pursue a career in politics owing to her popularity in the camp, she said she's not interested.

10

The crowd was absolutely massive

10.The crowd was absolutely massive.

11

People never seemed to stop dancing.

11.People never seemed to stop dancing.

12

Flags were in motion for hours.

12.Flags were in motion for hours.

13

A woman with a lunch cart approaches the plaza.

13.A woman with a lunch cart approaches the plaza.

14

The last miner, Luis Urzúa, is almost up.

14.The last miner, Luis Urzúa, is almost up.

15

Here he comes, now.

15.Here he comes, now.

16

He's made it!

16.He's made it!

17

The round the clock rescue mission is complete.

17.The round the clock rescue mission is complete.

18

The President congratulates the rescuers on TVN, Chile's National Channel.

18.The President congratulates the rescuers on TVN, Chile's National Channel.

19

A woman brushes away tears.

19.A woman brushes away tears.

20

The National Anthem is sung.

20.The National Anthem is sung.

21

There's one in every crowd. And I'll let you wonder which one I'm talking about.

21.There's one in every crowd. And I'll let you wonder which one I'm talking about.

22

Joy.

22.Joy.

23

This is the most happiness I've seen in one place.

23.This is the most happiness I've seen in one place. I left the place I'm staying with a headache, hungry and cold and hoping things would go quickly. Then I found myself unable to stop smiling, without a headache and an itchy shutter button finger. Funny how that goes.

24

Citizens are moved by the Urzua reunion.

24.Citizens are moved by the Urzúa reunion.

25

Each time, how could we not imagine ourselves in the place of the miners and their families?

25.Each time, how could we not imagine ourselves in the place of the miners and their families?

26

Party in the plaza in Copiapo for the safe return of the last miner.

26.But the moment that brings tears to the eyes passes.

27

Party in the plaza in Copiapo for the safe return of the last miner.

27.Mission accomplished.

28

A reverent man shows his flag proclaiming his friendship to Luis Urzua.

28.A reverent man shows his flag proclaiming his friendship to Luis Urzúa.

29

The crowd starts to thin.

29.The crowd starts to thin.

30

A citizen is interviewed while a local radio station takes advantage of a free advertising opportunity.

30.A citizen is interviewed while a local radio station takes advantage of a free advertising opportunity.

31

A joyous family hoofs it to the plaza.

31.A joyous family hoofs it to the plaza.

32

Hanging out the windows, the son of this family waves at me.

32.Hanging out the windows, the kids all wave at me.

33

Cars full of happy people filled downtown, honking and celebrating for hours.

33.Cars full of happy people filled downtown, honking and celebrating for hours.