Guillermo Caló, Rio Tinto's Rincon project managing director, recently participated in a chaya celebration at the new airstrip. A chaya is an ancestral practice that seeks protection for all new material things, in homage to Pachamama (Mother Earth). It is a ritual of good omen as the airstrip prepares to welcome its first flights.
The chaya consisted of burning chacha (a local plant) and throwing alcohol, coca leaves, and shredded paper on an apacheta—a mound of stones specially set up in the vicinity of the airstrip—on the employees and on an ambulance.
"We want to celebrate this great event in front of the holy land of Pachamama. For this, I want us to unite and ask the Earth with great faith and respect for permission so that with everything that is achieved, there is a round trip of happiness, with special protection for the people who will travel on this new airstrip," said Emma Choque, a member of the Olacapato community and a Rio Tinto supplier.
When Rio Tinto acquired Rincon, the airstrip initiative was proposed as a safe way to travel to and from the site instead of the strenuous drive across the salt flat.
Community members, employees and contractors standing on the newly opened Rincon airstrip.