Laura stands at the edge of a salt flat in the Yucatan of Mexico, from one of the shore excursions of our recent cruise.
Back in the old days, the Mayans would harvest salt from the salt flats to use for preserving their food, since they didn’t have the modern conveniences of refrigerators and freezers. They don’t know what they were missing out on! How cool is it to pull something cool out of the refrigerator? Of course, since they didn’t have refrigerators, they didn’t have to worry about the mystery of whether the light stays on when you close the door. And they didn’t have to wonder about the little penguins inside the freezer that make the ice, either.
Even though the Mayans didn’t come up with electricity, they did come up with a way to harvest the salt that is naturally found in the sea water. Pretty clever! Clever enough that the system is still in use today.
The Mayans dug large pits, which would fill up with water, especially during the rainy seasons. The pits were lined with sticks and rocks to help define their areas. And then as the water in the pits evaporated, the pits were left with salt. Lots of salt. Salt that you can go out and scoop up with your hands, if you want to. You can tell how salty a pit is by the color of the water. The pit in the upper left of the above photo is almost pink, indicating a higher salt content. Something to do with the bacteria that is growing in there causes the different colors. But I am an engineer and not a biologist, so that explanation is probably best left to someone else.
Eduardo, our tour guide for this excursion picked up a large block of salt from one of the pits and broke it against one of the rocks at the edge of the pit. That gave him a large handful of salt, just like that. Cool! I didn’t lick it to see just how salty it was, but I did bring home a little rock of salt. Just because. Not that I plan to preserve any food with it or anything. But the ease with which they can get salt here makes you feel sorry for people who work in salt mines in other parts of the world.
Here is another look at the salt flat that was behind Laura in the first photo above. The darker cracked areas in the ground were actually pretty soft, and if you stepped there, the ground would crack and water would come up. So we couldn’t walk out there very far. But it still made for a good photo. And how about those nice looking clouds overhead?
And although you can’t see any here, there were lots of flamingos out in the salt flats. Lots and lots, actually. But they all managed to stay just out of camera range, since I didn’t bring along a really big super zoom lens. Because I didn’t want to carry something like that around. So I guess if you want to see the flamingos, you will just have to go for yourself. Just watch where you step, or you might find yourself sinking in the salt flats.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.” - Matthew 5:13
About the photos:
For this excursion, there was no camera charge as there had been for our visit to Tulum. So I shot several photos with different lenses on the Olympus camera, as well as some video with the GoPro, which will be coming later on. I was trying to capture as much as I could of this foreign landscape, because it was all so interesting and so different from back home.
And then as usual I gave each photo a good bit of processing back here at home, to give them each their special look. For the first photo of Laura, here is the before-and-after version, showing the changes that were made:
The processing really brought out the blue of the sky and the texture of the clouds, and it also restored some color to the washed-out salt flats, too. The final photo is much more interesting than the original, I think.
Photos: A single Raw exposure, processed in Photoshop. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10
Lenses: Olympus 14-42mm IIR and Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye Lens
Date: July 19, 2016
Location: Xcambo, Yucatan, Mexico