One of the hottest jobs in the world
Workers in salt mines in Ethiopia will not be envied: they are forced to work at 50 degrees Celsius for an average fee of $ 6.5 per day. This is the hottest workplace on earth. Salt mines are located in the Afar basin and stretch over 155 thousand square kilometers. At the lowest point, they are more than 90 meters below sea level. Professional travel photographer and videographer Joel Santos went to this truly hot place to capture the harsh beauty of this corner of the planet.
“I felt the need to tell the story of salt miners. They work in the hottest place on earth and earn no more than 100-200 euros per month. Local life is hard. Probably one of the most difficult in the world, ”- says the photographer.
The hollow of Danakil, especially the area around Lake Afdera, is the place where almost all the salt is mined in Ethiopia. Every day, about two thousand one-humped camels and thousands of donkeys pass here, carrying salt plates in Berkhal, 80 kilometers from here.
Miners often work at temperatures not lower than 50 degrees Celsius and start work early in the morning to avoid the peak of heat when the sun is at its zenith.
“The air is so dry that it doesn’t smell like anything in the desert. Nevertheless, near some of the flooded areas you can feel a salty flavor if you lean closer to the ground, ”says the photographer.
“Most people do not know that there is such a hollow in Ethiopia. Austerity has its own unique beauty, and it is amazing how pictures from the air reveal it from the hitherto unexplored side, giving even greater scope to what the miners encounter daily, ”says Santos.
About 1.3 million tons of salt is mined here annually. It employs 750 officially registered salt miners.
Harsh landscapes include active volcanoes, foul-smelling hydrosulphuric hot springs, black lava streams and ponds strewn with salt crystals.
Once salt blocks were used in this area as currency, but now they have been replaced by money, as in the rest of the world. The local Afar population has a strict monopoly on the Danakil Basin and jealously guards the salt. Each trader must stop at the salt collector’s hut and pay for each camel, donkey and mule in his caravan before traveling.
“While I was shooting, I understood a lot. Especially when I had the pleasure of meeting special people living in such extreme conditions. I got the opportunity to grow as a person and look at things differently, ”says the photographer.