16 de febrero de 2019
ÚLTIMAS NOTICIAS:
Hispanic World

Tourists can learn 500-year-old trade of salt-making in Chile

By Marcial Campos Maza.

By Marcial Campos Maza.

Pichilemu, Chile, Feb 11 (efe-epa).- Tourists who come to Cahuil, a coastal town in central Chile, can experience a place of a very different nature and in a few hours learn a 500-year-old trade - salt-making.

This unique experience, rough, tough and something like mining, is offered in the southern O'Higgins region, thanks to a Central University project financed by the regional government that gets tourists working for several hours extracting salt.

The visitor can dig into the savory substance deposited by the sea in rectangular pools, where after several months the sun evaporates the water, leaving a crust of salt on the bottom.

Extracting it is the work of salt-makers using techniques inherited from their grandfathers.

The remaining water is removed beforehand with motor pumps, which is the "only modern technology" used in the process. Then, after the mud is cleared away, the salt is tamped down and left until it is dried by the sun.

"We soak it with water once more, sweep it over with tree branches from one pool to the next, smoothly, until what is left is a 10-centimeter (4-inch) thick crust of salt, which we shovel into wheelbarrows and put in bags," Agustin Moraga, one of the local salt-makers, told EFE.

That unusual experience is available to tourists, guided by salt-makers of the region, located some 200 kilometers (124 miles) southwest of Santiago.

"Visitors do exactly the same work of salt production as the locals. Afterwards they can take away the salt they collected as souvenirs," Eduardo Gonzalez, owner of the Pichilemu Tourism company, which operates the so-called Route of Salt, told EFE.

The history of the salt pools began 500 years ago in the pre-Columbian era, when aborigines of the area extracted the product with ancestral techniques, but it wasn't until the year 1700 that the activity acquired a proto-industrial character based on the salt-making practices still in use today.

Elena Parraguez, who has lived her whole life here, told EFE that the work is done the same way as it was 300 years ago, "with a shovel, the pools, the cleaning, it's all the same," she said.

Some 20 people work in the salt pools, having inherited the trade from their fathers and grandfathers.

All these men are over age 50, some 62 percent of them have only a primary education, and this is a way for them to earn a living.

They were the ones who in 2013 were declared Living Human Treasures by UNESCO, for their contribution to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Chile and the unique character of their trade, which preserves the identity of the area.

That same year, the Chilean National Industrial Property Institute (INAPI) gave the salt of Cahuil the denomination of origin, since it is a product that can only be produced in this area, due to it geographic conditions and unique production processes.

In fact, the salt of Cahuil is unique in Chile since it comes from the sea, unlike that in the north, which is mined from the salt flats of the Altiplano.

Therefore, only salt extracted from this area can use commercially the denomination "Salt of Cahuil."

Whoever gets to Cahuil can also visit the lush wetlands of the Nilahue Estuary and the Salt Pools of Cahuil, Barrancas, Pichilemu and Valdivia, a place with an infinity of birdlife that makes it an interesting landscape for taking photos.

There one can swiftly observe some 46 bird species, from black-necked swans to mallards, from herons to ravens to so many more, all living in a magical natural environment with a hybrid ecosystem (a blend of fresh water and salt water).

When it comes time to dine, tourists can taste the gastronomy of the area made with sea salt, unique seasonings, quinoa (a seed from the Andes), local-habitat birds and other regional specialties.

They can also visit the watermills of Pañul and Rodeillo, which, with their rustic but very efficient engineering, have ground for more than 50 years the different grains like wheat, barley and quinoa produced in the area to make handcrafted flour, even as the 21st century progresses.

Histórico de noticias
Man kills 5 in workplace shooting in Aurora, Illinois

Washington, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- A man who was being terminated from his job fatally shot five people at a factory in the suburbs of the US metropolis of...

Panama Canal names new chief administrator

Panama City, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) on Friday selected a new chief administrator for the inter-oceanic waterway for the...

Cuban youth spearhead recovery from tornado

Havana, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- Leonel, 91, and his wife Pirita, 74, sip coffee amid what's left of their home neighborhood after the first tornado to hit the...

Mexican gov't unveils $5.5 bn package to support ailing Pemex

Mexico City, Feb 15 (EFE).- Mexico's government on Friday unveiled a 107-billion-peso ($5.5-billion) aid package in 2019 for state oil company Petroleos...

Maduro says UN will help Venezuela obtain medicine

Caracas, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Friday he has secured cooperation from the United Nations to obtain pharmaceuticals...

Trump says trade talks with China are going well

Washington, Feb 15 (epa-efe).- US President Donald Trump said here Friday that talks with China on a wide-ranging trade agreement were going "extremely well."

Democratic leaders in Congress call Trump's national emergency unlawful

Washington, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- Democratic Party leaders in the US Congress this Friday called unlawful President Donald Trump's decision to declare a...

Salvadoran woman accused of having abortion freed pending new trial

Ilopango, El Salvador, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- A young Salvadoran woman sentenced to 30 years in prison for allegedly aborting her child was released here Friday...

Chilean authorities battle 31 wildfires

Santiago, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- Efforts continued Friday against 31 wildfires in regions of central and southern Chile, the National Emergency Office (Onemi)...

Brazilian economic activity expands 1.15 pct. in 2018

Rio de Janeiro, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- Brazil's economic activity expanded 1.15 percent last year with respect to 2017, a sign that the South American giant is...

Crew rescued from Chinese vessel after collision off Argentina

Buenos Aires, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- The 30 people aboard a Chinese fishing trawler that sank Friday after a collision with another boat in international waters...

Chile files countersuit with ICJ against Bolivia over Silala River

Santiago, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- Chile filed a countersuit this Friday with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Bolivia's claim to sovereign...

Trump declares nat'l emergency to build wall on US-Mexico border

Washington, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday with the goal of bypassing Congress and securing billions of...

8 Vale employees arrested over Brazil mine dam disaster

Sao Paulo, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- Eight employees of Brazilian mining giant Vale were arrested Friday as part of an investigation into a mine tailings dam...

Defending champion Thiem in Argentina Open quarters, Spain's Ferrer out

Buenos Aires, Feb 13 (efe-epa).- Defending champion Dominic Thiem of Austria advanced to the Argentina Open quarterfinals after the top seeded defeated...

Crisis in Haiti worsens as its president remains silent

Port-au-Prince, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- The political and economic crisis in Haiti continues to worsen on Thursday, eight days after violent protests began...

Dozens of countries support Maduro at UN, Cuba says US preparing its military

United Nations, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- China, Russia and several dozen other countries on Thursday committed themselves at the United Nations to defending the...

Argentina records yearly inflation of 49.3 percent, highest since 1991

Buenos Aires, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- Inflation in Argentina rose to 49.3 percent year-on-year in January, according to data released Thursday by the National...

Mexico to relocate 120 CentAm migrants to non-border northern cities

Piedras Negras, Mexico, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- The Mexican city of Piedras Negras, which borders on the United States, on Thursday announced that it will...

White House confirms Trump to sign budget bill, will declare nat'l emergency

Washington, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- The White House on Thursday confirmed that President Donald Trump will sign the budget bill to be presented to him by...

Activity increases in central Chile volcano

Santiago, Feb 14 (epa-efe).- Central Chile's Planchon-Peteroa volcano showed an increase in its activity and particulate matter emissions early Thursday...

Brazil's Vale rejects blame for deadly disaster

Brasilia, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- The CEO of Brazilian mining giant Vale said here Thursday that his company should not be condemned for last month's collapse of...

Senate confirms Barr as US attorney general

Washington, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- The full Senate on Thursday confirmed William Barr as US attorney general, thus handing him the authority to supervise the...

China, Russia, dozens of countries promise to defend Maduro at UN

United Nations, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- China, Russia and several dozen other countries on Thursday committed themselves at the United Nations to defending the...