Salty promises at the Salineras of Maras, Peru

In the late afternoon at the end of a very wet rainy season, the tiered pocitos at the Salineras of Maras, Peru are empty of workers. The frequent cloud bursts have kept the evaporation in check that would otherwise coat the hills white.

As we crunch our way along the crystal-covered, narrow footpaths, we imagine people bending to collect the pink-tinged salt crystals that form in the shallow pools, in use since Incan times.

Even though Peru’s Sacred Valley is far, far inland, a wind smelling rich with rain whips across the salt pools and picks up the briny smell of the sea.

Lone green salt pond, Salineras, Peru photo

Lone green salt pond at Salineras. That's probably not a pond whose salt you want.

Sign from the management, Salineras, Peru photo

Sign from the management, who are apparently a pair of cute bunnies.

Crystals form along a salt water stream, Salineras, Peru photo

Crystals form along a salt water stream

A silhouette walks, Salineras, Peru photo

Todd casts a shadow walking along the salt pools

A mound of salty earth, Salineras, Peru photo

Salty earth begins to gather into a stalagmite

Rippled salt pond surface, Salineras, Peru photo

The wind creates ripples on the salt pond surface at Salineras

Storm in the distance, Salineras, Peru

Storm clouds gather in the mountains beyond the Salineras salt ponds