While the length of the Carretera Austral in Chile’s Northern Patagonia is nothing less than spectacular, the town of Caleta Tortel, the Patagonian Venice, captures the adventurous spirit and magic of the region better than any other place, yet is still relatively unknown and undiscovered. Sitting on the crème de menthe colored Rio Baker, the small lumber town clings to the hillsides and waterfront via hundreds of wooden walkways that span the entire length of the maze like town.
The home of Peruvian pink salt is 10,000 feet high in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, 30 miles north of Cuzco, near the town of Maras. Here, more than four thousand small ponds of salt cluster together on a steep hillside. Each salt pond has a deed, like that of a deed to a house, and they are passed down from family to family, as they have been for centuries, since before the start of the Inca Empire. The pale pink salt contains magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, copper, and zinc and is believed to have curative properties by the local population.
A few months before the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began, I was traveling around the Amazon rainforest observing the contamination that occurred there as a result of petroleum for an article with Penthouse magazine (forthcoming). One of the most highly publicized cases against the oil industry in the Amazon is in eastern Ecuador, where Texaco (now owned by Chevron) operated for decades. The case of Aguinda vs. Chevron/Texaco has been in courts for more than a decade and seems to be nearing an end. A judge in Ecuador estimated the damages caused by Texaco to be about $27 billion, making it the largest environmental lawsuit on earth (though the BP Gulf spill will likely dwarf this one), though Chevron continues to fight against that verdict.
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