Tucked amid the rolling hills and steep canyons of Bolivar province, lies the quaint, sleepy town of Salinas. Named for its millennial salt mines, this town is truly one of Ecuador’s best kept secrets. The salt mines, nearing the end of their productive life, continue to render quantities of this essential nutrient. Artisanal in quality, it is hand-harvested and dried, then lovingly wrapped in local grass to be sold to locals and foreigners in the know. But the salt is just the beginning.
Enter the Salesians, a Catholic society, who saw the vast potential of the hardworking locals of the region combined with the cornucopia of Ecuadorian agrarian goods. They saw cacao from the lowlands, milk from the grassy fields, a diverse porcine population, unique local herbs, and vast herds of sheep. From this, they helped the locals refine their artisanal skills, producing chocolates, cheeses, cured hams and sausages, essential oils, and textiles.
Needless to say – this town is a gastronomist’s delight, but is also worth a one-night excursion for those seeking a refreshingly authentic experience of what the Andes has to offer.
Written by: Walter Moore