The beautiful highland Guatemalan town of Sacapulas is home to a remarkable and unique survival of an ancient cultural tradition. So-called ‘black salt’ has been made here for at least 400 years, when the practice was reported by the early Spanish colonists, and probably for much longer than that, during the era of the ancient Maya who ruled Guatemala before the arrival of the Spanish.
Centuries ago, hundreds of people worked in Sacapulas making the famously tasty salt. Just a few decades ago, there were still as many as 20 or 30 people making salt here, but today just one elderly man remains, Maximino Gomez, the last of an ancient line of salt producers.
It’s extremely hard work creating the unique black salt from the salt deposits along the river, and Maximino bemoans the fact that he can’t find a young apprentice willing to carry on the practice, learning the ancient skill from him. He says the young prefer to migrate to the big cities in search of an easier life, but he still lives in hope of finding someone to carry on the practice before he dies.