Thursday's Child: Atacama Salt Flats, Chile

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Near Antofagasta
the whole
saline plain
it is a
a song filled
with sorrow."

- from "Ode to Salt", Pablo Neruda

This month, I've been writing about some of the spectacular places we've seen, and I'll end where I began – in Chile.

The Atacama desert in the north of Chile is home to a number of salt plains, one of which is the Chaxa Lagoon.  Craggy mounds of hardened salt thrust up from the earth for miles and miles, extending to the border of the distant mountains.

These salt crystals were left behind after the evaporation of underground water. The scarcity of rainfall in the region, and the absence of a place for water to drain, have enhanced the strange beauty of these saline formations.

Thanks to the microscopic life in the lagoons, the flats are home to a wide variety of birds, some of which are endangered or vulnerable.  The area is particularly known for the flamingoes that live there, and has been designated a nature reserve.

But all these facts pale next to the otherworldly beauty of this stark, white terrain. And no one could describe it more beautifully than the brilliant Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda:

"Then in its caverns
the gem salt, mountain
of a buried light,
transparent cathedral,
crystal of the sea, oblivion
of the waves."
- from "Ode to Salt", Pablo Neruda


Anonymous said...

Your photos are just stunning. As a writer, I can imagine that a place like Chile is a source of great inspiration for you. It's so vast and the terrain so unique. Lovely!

Gloria Baker said...

Oh im sooooo glad you enjoyed Chile; and your pictures are georgeous!!!

Vi said...

I love that poetry, especially "gem salt." The terrain looks like a blank canvas, full of inspiration.

Julie said...

Another wonderful trip you've shared with us! Beautiful landscape!

Carol said...

Fantastic photo's! The landscape is so interesting,so stark but beuatiful, nonetheless.

Valerie Gamine said...

Beautiful! The quotes are so perfect at capturing the essence of salt, and her barren, yet lovely home.

Belinda said...

What an absolutely cool landscape!!

Bonnie said...

The poetry is beautiful! I can only imagine the vast beauty of the area. Thank you for sharing your wonder photographs. Bonnie

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Wow, another fabulous locale that I can add to my bucket list. The salt plains with the mountains in the background is just breathtaking~ Have a wonderful weekend, Beth!

Cucina49 said...

Have I ever told you that I have travel envy? I've never seen anything like those flats!

Anonymous said...

Great photos!

julie said...

Wow, that is definitely a unique area of the world!
It reminds me a bit of the Salt Flats in Utah. Great pictures and thanks for sharing a piece of the world with us. :)

Elaine said...

Such different beauty. Your photos are lovely and they remind me of the salt flats near Salt Lake City, Utah.

Angie's Recipes said...

Amazing photos, Beth. And you really have seen the world!

p.s You may have noticed that my blog didn't work last three days, now blogger finally fixed the problem and my blog works fine now.

Unknown said...

This is a unique sight to behold and the sunset over the water photo really captures the desolate feeling of this nature reserve. You have really seen some wonderful parts of the world!

Anonymous said...

So stark and yet to beautiful.

Miriam said...

How beautiful!!
Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Unknown said...

They almost look like coral. Very pretty and unusual.

nancy at good food matters said...

beautiful beautiful post.
I love the poetry of Pablo Neruda.

Angela said...

It takes good mothers to raise good daughters.

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