Monday, 21 January 2013

Salty Salinas

Finally, a peaceful night during which the symptoms of altitude sickness have lessened!!!  What a wonderful relief.  We awoke feeling much better, but thought we would take it a bit easy.  We hired a taxi to take us to Moray (local Incan ruins), but once it had arrived the driver refused to take us.  He claimed that due to the rainy season the road was impassable (strange though as others on organized tours were making it there easily...go figure).  In any case, we decided to go instead to Salinas, a 40 minute walk-in from a point at a suspension bridge where the taxi could drop us.  The taxi driver dropped us off, after driving us in on a dirt road and told  us, in his Spanish with the little English he knew to walk along the river bank to the right.  He left us there, and we understood that we would have to walk back to the main road to flag down a taxi to return.
We walked for about 15 minutes through a very small community, admiring the scenery...when we were faced with an imposing, but gentle uphill path.  We resolved to give it a try despite everything...we are adventurers after all!!!
It was well worth it, the climb up was difficult, but the views were spectacular.  We stopped and rested frequently and enjoyed the vistas, and the fine weather.
Eventually we turned a corner at the top of the path and there before us lay the salt mines of Salinas!!!
The salt mines are fascinating...thousands of "plots" each about 6 x 10 feet (I am guessing at the size) carved into the living rock. 
This salt mine has been in operation since before Inca times and each plot is owned independently.  A local spring is diverted into these shallow pans at certain times of the year, each one is filled with water which is rich in salt and allowed to evaporate.  The remaining salt is harvested and sold through a cooperative.  It was fascinating, and very ingenious.
We returned eventually to the main road and made our way back to the hotel for an afternoon nap (we were supposed to be resting after all) and then went to town for a late lunch.  Two important things happened in was we finally saw snow on the mountains (something Paul loves to see) and the local markets were in full swing...interesting indeed.

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