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Shovel and wooden pan in hand, rubber boots hoisted up to his shins, Leider Ocoró Ambuila strolled past the zapote tree, past the stands of ripening bananas, past the cow pen, down to the banks of the Ovejas river.

A man pans for gold in a river

Leider Ocoró Ambuila, 41, pans for gold in the Ovejas river in La Toma, Colombia. He says he played as a child with Francia Elena Márquez, who also panned for gold there.

(Liliana Nieto del Río / For The Times)

He was soon crouched at waterway’s edge shoveling silt into a concave pan, or batea, a ritual passed down for generations….

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

I have 26 years of experience as a professional writer and editor and have been working as a full time freelancer since 2011. I am originally from Casablanca, Morocco, and I graduated from Qatar University with a degree in journalism. I have worked for newspapers, magazines, news agencies, websites. I speak fluent Arabic, French, English, Russian and Spanish.

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