Palmtrees, Blue Seas (San Blas Islands)

The Pan-American Highway stretches from Alaska to Argentina – with the exception of the Darién Gap – a 160km stretch. The Darién Gap is notably the wildest place remaining in the Western Hemisphere – covered in both mountainous rain forest and flat marshland. The area has a known guerrilla and narcrotrafficker presence (and the kidnapping and crimes that go along with it); thus, while it is still possible to cross the gap by land or foot, it is not recommended. With a land crossing out of the question we had the choice of flying or travelling across the Caribbean Sea. Continue reading

SALT EXTRACTION: from Flats to Containment Ponds to Underground Tunnels

Salt – sodium chloride – is a mineral everyone is familiar with, it is essential for human life and is one of basic human tastes. Before our travel to South America, we knew salt came from various places (think Black Hawaiian Sea Salt, Pink Himalayan Salt, etc.); however, we had very little understanding of the different methods used to extract it from the earth. As it turns out, mining salt is a huge industry with sodium chloride being one of the largest inorganic raw materials used in the world by volume (and its manufacture is one of the oldest). Today, we use almost 70% of the salt extracted from the earth for manufacturing and industrial processes while only 6% is used in food (the remainder being used for water conditioning, de-icing highways and agriculture). Continue reading

Holy Week in Bogota

“The Canadian Platinum Ticket” – Welcome to Colombia.

Canadians are now the only country that need to pay a fee on arrival to Colombia. That’s right, at the airport there is a massive line for international arrivals and then a sign that with a Canadian flag pointed to an empty line with a single desk at the end. There, they collect the 160,000 Colombian Peso (approx 80$) reciprocity fee for Canadians. The fee is as of December 1, 2014 and came as a complete shock to us. Reciprocity due to the Biometric fee demanded by the Canadian government to Colombian nationals to get a visa to enter Canada. Continue reading