Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Maras - Salt and Potatoes

Salt mines

Just outside of Cusco is a small town famous for its salt - Maras.

The salt mines here have been used since the times of the Incas and still produce salt for the international market - mainly due to the salt's allegedly medicinal properties.
The salt mines

Looking back to the road

The salt is dissolved by water flowing though the mountains and then collects in pools where the water evaporates.

Evaporation pools

Close-up of the pools

From these salt mines it is a short drive to another Inca site - one used for growing potatoes.

An Inca potato farm

The ruins look like an amphitheater, however the structure is actually used for growing potatoes.

Another "farm"

Each level creates its own microclimate for each type of potato.

Many levels on which to grow spuds

This innovative system allowed the Incas to cultivate many different types of potato in the same area.

The Andes in the background of another type of potato farm

And despite this innovation and the proximity to the salt mines, there's no evidence that they went on to discover the chip. Something which I had to return to Cusco to enjoy - along with a giant hunk of pork :)

Traditional cusceña food