Maura Bartoli – The salt of the earth
In Danakil region, Ethiopia more than 100 m. below sea level, there is the “salt plain”, originated by the drying up, during the dry season, of Lake Assale or Karum.
In the quarry, the men of the Afar ethnic group, the only ones who can withstand these temperatures, work with ancient tools: long poles to lift the salt slabs and a kind of hoe with a short handle to form the tiles. These, tied in “packages” of six, constitute the soma of the dromedaries that, in long caravans, transport it to the Ethiopian plateau: they leave in the evening, cross arid and stony gorges and travel along stretches of paved roads taking more than a week.
The “salt plain” is, under the sun, blinding, the line of the distant horizon is indistinguishable by the flickering of the air that the great heat releases from the ground and that floods, like a boiling sea, the landscape.
A landscape that appears barren and inhospitable but bright and fascinating at the same time; However, one feels baffled by observing the conditions faced by working men and animals arriving in slow columns.