A Memory of Making Salt in Guatemala

I just returned from an exhilarating trip back east to meet up with a bunch of foodwriters. I hope to have some good written up in the days to come. I gave a presentation on salt at the end of the event and was giddy as a schoolboy for about a week afterward at the enthusiasm and interest they showed.

I just got a note from Sandra Gutierrez, who is a food writer by trade, describing her personal connection with salt.  The pink tick mark at the center of the map below depicts the site where Sandra’s story was based.

Dear Mark,
Former Site of Salinas Santa Rosa in Guatemala, now Puerto San Jose
I didn’t have a chance to tell you but my grandfather was a salt producer in Guatemala, Central America. I spent many summer vacations running around the salt boxes, and remember vividly how beautiful the mounds of collected salt looked as the sun arose each morning. I remember beautiful pyramids of golds, pinks and oranges reflecting all around us. I would run around the perimeters of the salt boxes and had many falls and scrapes that were “cured” by the salt. Ouch!

The ending of this story is a sad one. In the late 1970’s the Guatemalan government expropriated our family’s land and destroyed the “salinas”. They were called “Salinas Santa Rosa”. In its place they built a port “Puerto San Jose” and the rest of the land was divided among the government representatives for their own private use. However, they couldn’t erase the beautiful memories of children playing and laughing amidst the mounds of glittering salt!

Sandra A. Gutierrez
Food Writer/Cooking Instructor

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