A torrent of gray, toxic water spews from a drainage tunnel and surges along the ravine, tumbling along garbage that has fallen from the Guatemalan capital’s main landfill 1,000 feet above.

Every day, hundreds of people descend into the mounds of garbage and the rushing waters at the bottom of the gorge to search for scrap metal- copper, steel and others- to sell by the pound, and if they’re lucky, gold and silver jewelry. This activity, though extremely dangerous because of mudslides and collapses, earns many of them more than they can make in the formal economy. They call the ravine the «mine,» and refer to themselves as «miners.»

Guatemala City, 2011.