COPIAPO, Chile - The miners began their unfamiliar new lives as national heroes yesterday and got a taste of what awaits them outside the hospital doors - a deluge of TV producers, writers and even soccer teams all desperate for a piece of their story.
A day after their epic rescue, still wearing the oddly fashionable sunglasses that protected them from the bright light when they were hoisted from 2,000 feet underground, the men posed in hospital bathrobes for a group photo with President Sebastián Piñera.
Unity helped the men, known as "los 33," survive for 69 days underground, including more than two weeks when no one knew whether they were alive.
But the moment they walk out the hospital doors, they'll go beyond the reach of a government operation that has cared for, fed and protected them in a coordinated campaign to ensure they would be in top condition.
"Now they're going to have to find their equilibrium and take care of themselves," the hospital chaplain, the Rev. Luis Lopez, told The Associated Press.
They got a preview of what lies ahead. On their first full day of fresh air, the miners were probably the 33 most in-demand people on the planet.
Hearing that Edison Peña jogged regularly underground, the New York City Marathon asked him to run next month.
A Greek mining company wants to bring the miners to the Aegean Islands, competing with rainy Chiloe in Chile's southern archipelago, whose tourism bureau wants them to stay for a week. Soccer teams in Madrid, Manchester and Buenos Aires want them in their stadiums. Bolivia's president wants them at his palace. TV host Don Francisco wants them all on his "Sabado Gigante" show in Miami.