Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Woman's Work is Never Done...

As part of our walk towards Ngallou - we were surrounded by salt ponds of various shapes and sizes. The  local people still make a living off  collecting the salt. From the Peace Corp Guide - these circles dot the landscape, each reflecting a different hue in the sunlight. The local population uses seasonal floods and tidal flows to fill the pools with ocean water, then harvests the ring of salt left as the pools evaporate during the dry season.

Now of course these holes don't appear on their own - they are created in one of two ways we learned - either by men - because a family can afford to pay him to dig the hole.

Or by hard working woman. Yeah - I'll say it again - hard working woman. We just happened to catch these ladies using a plastic bowl to scoop out some mud. And in a different hole a woman using her shovel to do the digging (bummer I missed getting that photo).  When the pond becomes dry with salt it is scraped off and put into mounds.


What you see above is how the salt is covered.  It's a conglomeration of plastic bags, towels, mesh, some things identifiable and some not. But underneath all that tarping - is salt.  And in others areas where they had access to some tree branches (closer to the forest), they created a silo of sorts and stored their salt there.  

After their salt is harvested, the salt is sold to be used in the fish drying and preserving process. Or of course sold in little sachets at the lodge for people like me to buy! (From the Fisheries and Aquaculture department of the UN:  Sun-drying is the final step in the traditional method of fish processing in many African countries. Most fermented fishery products in Africa are sun-dried to reduce the water activity and therefore slow down or stop the growth of the micro-organisms responsible for fermentation or spoilage. Drying is normally combined with salting to reduce the moisture content sufficiently to ensure a longer shelf-life.)

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