Tour of hydrochloric Ethiopian desert
• Walk on the Ethiopian desert salt
Author's note: This post - excerpt from my big reportage about Ethiopia.
.. underfoot crunches again - but not black lava and white salt. Rough crust and lacy flakes she hid the ground many meters in thickness, and for kilometers around - to the horizon.
Our drivers drove here in the light of dawn to catch the sunrise over the salt lake.
This lake was once the Red Sea gulf. And even more than once - the water is left, then back again. The last such tide, low tide occurred on geological standards recently - 30, 000 years ago. Each time the evaporating water leaves a thick layer of salt. According to various estimates, the deposits thickness ranges from 800 to 1000 meters.
But the relationship with the sea has not ceased to this day - to him here a little more than a hundred kilometers. Part seawater leaking underground, flowing into a giant hollow (and this part of the desert is at around 110 meters below sea level), and forms an underground lake at a depth of 7m. And then running the capillary effect - the water rises to the surface and evaporates, leaving the salt crust.
Day here unbearable heat and blinding, like snow in the sun, white. Hot wind ruffled the water and splashes it far beyond the lake. But early in the morning the picture is quite different:
Not far from the lake residents of the tribe of the Afar salt mined by the same method as used by their ancestors hundreds of years ago.
After the incidents in Addis Ababa, I ventured to come close to the camera to the people and indeed, looking at their work and the conditions in which they work, considered unethical simply revolve around making idle fotachki. Therefore, the close-ups and details will not be here. Only from a distance. Afar inhabit the north of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. This is a fairly warlike tribe. Vendetta - part of their culture, though greatly reduced in recent years. Several decades ago, the young man could not be considered an adult man as long as he does not kill at least one enemy. Salt mining - a traditional fishing Afar, a way to survive in the desert. 1,200 square kilometers of land covered salt. In the past it served as currency.
Near to the salt developments settlement - in the then 2-hour walk, and doing a work this way in the desert every morning.
The work begins with the sunrise, the change lasts 6 hours, 6 days a week, 10 months a year - from November to March. The production process can be divided into three stages. First group of working axes knocks in hydrochloric blocks and thicker via otkolupyvaet poles of the earth. Then another group otosyvaet pieces, giving them the shape of a square or rectangle with the side somewhere 30cm.
Each square takes 2-3 minutes, the worker receives for his bir 5 or 20 cents. The guide said that on the day they earn up to 150 bir. Whether he confused, then I did not hear. Because then I found the story of one former employee, where he argued that soledobytchiki a day can handle 100-150 tiles, which significantly more than 150 bir. However, when it worked, it paid 1 bir per tile. Maybe our guide date?
The average annual temperature in 34.4S desert, it is the hottest place on Earth (year record 48C in the shade, the sun 63). During my visit in February there were about 30. The shadows there. safety too. People work under the scorching sun, constantly moving his bare hands salt and hydrochloric inhaling dust. Of food - only hard homemade bread and tea.
Salt elite - the owners of the donkeys and camels. After all, it is necessary to sell salt, ie. E., To deliver to the consumer, and now it is done with the help of pack animals. They humbly waiting for the sun when they are on the back shoulder the load.
You have seen how sleeping camel? This cool catcher. I could not resist and went around him on all sides ...
.. and accidentally awakened, which he was not happy
Ready-salt blocks weigh around 4.5-6 kg each. Camel ship 120-180 kg. For this work, used only males.
Until 2012, with the salt caravans done the 175-kilometer route to the city of Mekele in a week or a little more. Half way ran across the rocky desert and camels all the time went without food and water. Under such harsh conditions, each animal was only three times during the season could be used.
Today, with the construction of the road from Mekele in the desert, the caravans are only to a transit town-base half-way, it takes three days, half of which - along the canyon of the river and bush. On this basis, the camels unloaded and driven further salt trucks - one machine can replace 300-350 camels. But many tourists guides tend to feed on old infoy week transition - so it dramatically.
The question may arise: what prevents mechanize production and to carry salt transportation directly from the source - the soil is strong enough and can withstand heavy truck?
Yes themselves Afar and prevent such attempts. There was an attempt of large mining company to start industrial salt production in 2011. But clan leaders saw it as a threat to their ancient craft and united to oppose the project. The company left its place a year later, fearing sabotage their equipment. Afar set categorically opposed to any mechanization, fields of automation and industrial development, because it would deprive hundreds of working people, especially the owners of the camels. And what a beautiful looks so deserted 'train' as he smoothly moves in the pink rays of the setting sun
Unfortunately, with the gradual development of infrastructure and the construction of roads more and more foreign corporations is considered the richest natural resources of Ethiopia as a potentially successful for investment and development. There are currently three companies have already received licenses for the production of potash salt on the ground Afar. One plans to issue to the surface 600, 000 tons per year. So, in place of the landscape that you see in this post, there will soon be a career.
We spent the night in the same village where soledobytchiki live.
Sleeping on such beds
Under the shelter of sticks
And in the morning came to us children - take pictures for money.
Do you want to see the rustic toilet? I do not mind
No, this is not a cabinet that hung with torn plastic, and the one that close. The one with the plastic - a shower.
But on the other parked monumental rose housing is being built specifically for tourists on toilet seats 4
In the morning we have demonstrated proof of the existence of the underground lake. In one place the salt layer above it was very thin and collapsed inward, giving the water an opportunity to come to the surface. The result was a kind of hole in the desert.
Water in her dark green, oily to the touch and incredibly bitter and salty - the concentration of salt in the underground lake is 10 times higher than in the Dead Sea.
And this means that the surface can lie out heels
By the way, look for a hole shape. Nothing like?
The typical landscape saline land - "honeycomb"
These mountains also composed of salts - potassium chloride. I checked. How? Yes, just licked. So what?
As before, in this region we guarded with weapons. But looking at our defender, I would like to ask a question, and whether it is convenient, if necessary, to run on the salt mounds in a long skirt and sandals on his bare feet?
Next was spending the night under the open sky on the coast of another salty (or more accurately - salty) lakes afder zone
It is also a brine of water several times stronger than the Dead Sea, and the locals use this chip: the shore lay the skull or bones of animals and left there until they are covered with salt crystals, and then sell 'artifact' tour
utrechkom I found near his bed (one with a green mattress) a naked black man sitting in the water and drying shorts in the breeze.
Near the lake is also mined salt, but in a different way.
Water from the lake is pumped into the dug in the ground and lined with plastic pools (see the pipe in the foreground?)
When the water evaporates, the salt remains on the bottom layer.
This is a chute through which flows lake water and taken with him pieces of salt
In the pool with the resulting salt is pumped into a new portion of water, stirred and pumped into an empty swimming pool nearby. When evaporated, and this portion, the procedure is repeated. As a result, the bottom layer is precipitated salt 15-20 cm, which workers then hammering picks, crumbled and placed into small pyramids
Pyramid then loaded onto wheelbarrows and poured into one big pile, which then takes away dumper
The work is physically heavy and the heat exhausting. All workers - young, well-folded guys
This generally handsome
to work hard until the sun go down
For hard labor are 6-7 thousand bir per month, it is about $ 220- $ 250. Which, according to the guide, is run on weekends in a rustic tavern with the girls. Because to do nothing more here. And get on the job - a great success.
In the evening, tired guys bake bread to take to work the next day. A piece of dough is wrapped around the stone, which is heated in the pre-fire. We were shown the dough and the fire, but a stone in it was not yet