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I feel blessed.  Something told me to check Panama Canal AIS for Balder Atlantic bound.  I noticed her Pacific bound instead . . . possibly loaded with Colombian coal for an Andes port.  I  also noticed she was approaching Miraflores locks–see my shots from March 2012 here–at that moment.  Thanks to the efforts of bowsprite and Elizabeth on my behalf, here’s Balder‘s transit through Miraflores.     Finally, why Balder . . ?  Check here and here for origins of my interest.

16:45 . . .

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16:56

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17:04

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17:20

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17:31

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17:34

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Many thanks to bowsprite and Elizabeth for the screenshots.  Bon voyage Balder . . . now beyond archipelago de las perlas .  . .

Here are segments 1–5.

New York City is one of those places where tens of thousands of restaurants serve food from every imaginable region on earth.  Scroll through the NYTimes restaurant list for a small sampling.   Ditto music venues with sounds of the world.

The vessel below caries a mundane product that also travels from an obscure region.  Guess?

It’s not oil, like the product Scotty Sky delivers.  Oil itself is quite exotic in that it arrives from geological eras in our planet’s unimaginable past.

er . . . make that Patrick Sky.  Sorry.

And Patrick Sky delivered nothng to our mystery vessel, named for a Norse god, Balder.   Either that, or the name derives from a landscape that more denuded now that before . . .  balder?  Actually the cargo comes from a place that nearly a century and a half ago saw a mineral-motivated War of the Pacific.    And the product is  . . .

salt.  New yorkers can pride themselves that their roads, come ice and snow, sport Peruvian salt.

Balder picked up this load in Ilo, Peru.   See her recent itinerary here.

So in a few weeks–maybe–when this salt ends up on streets and sidewalks, pick some unmelted granules up and smell it.

x

You may catch hints of kiwicha and quinoa, and hearing strains of charanga, you might find your feet moving to the beat of a diablada.

And I know it’s all driven by economics, but of course, New York state has its own salt mines.  For Balder in drydock, click here.  For specs on its “self-unloading/reclaimer system,” click here.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Here are 4, 3, 2, and 1.  Ooops . . here’s another 1, featuring a June K.

Winter’s not over, and there has already been SOME call for salt on roads and walkways, but mostly it’s been a low-salt season around the sixth boro.

The other morning I thought I’d see bulker Irene rotated by Ellen McAllister, but it turns out

Ellen was lying in wait for the container vessel appearing

around the bend.

The salt trade is ancient.  Since I’m thinking about gallivants a lot these days, I recall hearing about salt caravans out of the Sahara to ports in North Africa for trans-shipment to Europe.  Even if I didn’t travel on a camel, seeing salt slabs in traditional boats on the Niger River . . . would suffice.  Back in 1977 I was finished with a job in Cameroon and had the option of adventuring across the Sahara (hitchhiking) through another desert city called Agadez, and opted out.  I still regret that choice sometimes.  Two friends did it.   I thought of this again recently while reading Vuvuzela Diaries.

What traveled north for centuries was salt as well as gold;  what traveled south to Timbuktu were European “luxury” goods, including books.   Here’s another BBC video on the scholarly libraries of Timbuktu.

If mild and dry weather prevails for the rest of this winter, Mt. Salt will remain here along Richmond Terrace.  The small vessel off Irene‘s stern here belongs to the NYC DEP.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

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