A baby boomer’s salty experience in Spain

Our friends Florence and Mike Lince, the Six-Monthers (so-named because they are part of a small corps of baby boomers who move someplace new every six months), are having a salty experience at their new temporary home in Spain. But as Florence writes, it’s all part of their non-stop education. So, pass the salt.

We are currently living in Torrevieja, Spain which is surrounded by two beautiful natural salt-water lagoons, the de La Mata and the Torrevieja. These two very large lagoons have been declared natural reserves, which means they receive protected status from the government of Spain, and are considered Europe’s largest salt lakes, producing in excess of 800,000 tons of salt a year. They are also home to more than 200 species of migratory birds, including the pink flamingo.

Lengthy conveyor belt to transport salt.

Lengthy conveyor belt to transport salt.

Salt has been extracted from this area since as far back as the 15th-Century and might have helped to fund the travels of Christopher Columbus. Mass salt production began in earnest around 1802.

The salt produced here has been known to help lessen the severity of such medical problems as arthritis, asthma, and rheumatism, and this area is regarded by the World Health Organization as having one of the healthiest climates in Europe. This helps to explain the large number of baby boomer expats who vacation and retire here.

Mike Lince ready to tour Torrevieja's famed salt lagoons.

Mike Lince ready to tour Torrevieja’s famed salt lagoons.

One of the unique things that happens here in Torrevieja is the making and selling of ‘salt crafts.’ Artisans build models and forms to create these amazing works of art. They are then submerged in the salt lakes during the months of May and June when the salt concentration is highest and it is the time of ‘setting.”

Salt piles.

Salt piles.

It is during these months when the days are longest and evaporation rates are at their peak, which aids in the crystallization process. Salt concentration is so high that the art pieces only need to be submerged for three days and then, when removed, they have been completely crystallized in salt. These salt crafts are highly prized and considered valuable gifts. They are real works of art.

Model ship made of salt.

Model ship made of salt.

Since salt production is such a big part of the history of Torrevieja, there is a Salt Museum which has a nice collection of items about life in Torrevieja and the salt production.

Traveling as we do, we have learned that even though a package of salt was bought at our local hardware or grocery store somewhere in the United States, it doesn’t mean that’s where the salt came from. Maybe, just maybe, that salt came from our current temporary home in Spain!

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