Salt Flats in Cáhuil, Chile

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Just ten minutes down the coast from the surfing village of Pichilemu (our home base in Chile for three weeks) lies an area deep in history and artisan skills. Among many small villages lies the town of Cáhuil and its lagoon, which has been the home of traditional salt production since the arrival of the Spanish in Chile more than 400 years ago. There, local salt makers, who learned their craft from their elders, channel ocean water into dozens of pools at the start of each summer. They circulate, strain and divert the waters from one flat to the next. During January and February the seawater slowly evaporates leaving behind the white crystals of salt that are harvested and sorted into piles according to their quality.

The salt season was just about to start when we visited. The salt-makers were finishing preparation of their flats –clearing them of the winter’s debris, mud and algae– and waiting for the full moon and high tide to bring the ocean waters flowing into the lagoon. We watched as one man, Jorge, carefully apportioned last year’s harvest into little white sacks, meticulously sewing each shut with needle and twine, the way it’s been done for years and years. So simple and so beautiful. We bought a small bag and packed it among our essential supplies. A taste of Chile that will travel with us as we continue our journey.

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