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12 September 2013 / leggypeggy

Another day at the salt mines

Salineras de Maras

Two workers at Salineras

I love salt. I know I shouldn’t because I have marginally high blood pressure, but I love salt anyway. Always have.

So it was a great bonus to visit Salineras de Maras—the salt evaporations ponds of Peru. This was our last stop on our first day of touring the country’s Sacred Valley, and came after visits to Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Moray.

Salineras de Maras

Herbert explains the salt-making process

Our guide, Herbert, explained that the Salineras runs as a cooperative. People from the nearby town of Maras share the effort of looking after operations. Families do three-month stints maintaining the overall health of the ponds (gosh I really want to call them salts mines, which seems to roll off the tongue, but they are above ground and do not constitute drudgery jobs).

Workers come six days a week (Sundays off) and have fairly normal working hours. During their stint at the mines…er ponds…they can take a reasonable share of the salt. But ‘management’ keeps an eye on everyone and those who don’t pull their weight have to accept a smaller share than others.

There were plenty of tourists when we arrived, but it was late in the day, so only two workers were still on duty and they may have just been having a chat. Thanks to my telephoto lens, I could get a pic of them.

Salineras de Maras

The spring that feeds it all

The ponds have been in operation for centuries—since long before the Inca arrived—and are fed by a spring that bubbles out of the mountain that sits under them.

Most ponds are less than four meters square in area and 30 centimetres in depth. A pond’s colour—which varies from white to red to brown—depends on the skill of the person looking after it.

I saw a comment somewhere—that I can’t find again—that said there are almost 1000 ponds. Some are unused, and it seems that a person can petition to farm/re-establish one of these ponds and keep all the salt.

I won’t be applying for a position any time soon. I can’t imagine myself scampering up and down those narrow pond boundaries, but I can picture myself on my face in the wet. Besides, I need to cut down on my salt consumption—and keep remembering to take my blood pressure tablets. 🙂

P.S. I meant to make the pictures into a mosaic gallery, but forgot to click the right button. Feeling silly. But you can click on any photo for the bigger images. They are interesting pics, so feel free.


Leave a Comment
  1. hooksamui / Sep 12 2013 1:20 am

    Reblogged this on hooksamui.


    • leggypeggy / Sep 12 2013 11:46 am

      Thanks so much for the reblog. Most appreciated.


  2. Gary Walker / Sep 12 2013 10:23 am

    Fascinating to see the process. I’m a documentary fiend. If you are interested in a great doc about the history of salt and its importance through the ages check out…


    • leggypeggy / Sep 12 2013 11:48 am

      Pots, thanks so much. That’s an amazing link. I am pleased to report that I have five different kinds of salt in my house right now, plus a lot of things that are salty such as caperberries and anchovies.


      • Brian Lageose / Aug 19 2016 2:05 pm

        Well, with your mention of five kinds of salt, I couldn’t help but run just now to take inventory in my spice cabinet. I made myself stop at 12 different kinds of salt, because the shame was growing. I might as well drag a salt lick around with me. Side note: In the midst of the aborted survey, I found a jar of pink salt flakes from Murray River Gourmet in Mildura, Victoria. Granted, it’s not Canberra, but still, I think I’m going to nickname this my Peggy Salt… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Aug 19 2016 2:43 pm

        Wow, 12 salts are impressive. But yes, call the pink one Peggy Salt. Since writing this post, I’ve acquired two more kinds of salt, including black salt from India. Want some?

        P.S. I also have Murray River Gourmet salt which I’ll call Brian, or should I call it Crusty?


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