Traditional salt making
Published/Last edited or updated: 23rd November, 2016
Katewel (Katewela) is a tiny coastal Bugis settlement on the north coast of West Sumba, built around a muddy, mangrove-filled, crocodile-infested estuary. The beach here isn’t much, and you can’t swim (did we mention the crocodiles?), but Katewel is worth a visit to see the traditional salt making.
Splendid sunsets reflected in the mudflats are worth a snap or two as well. Sea salt production can be found in several areas in the drier parts of Indonesia — we’ve witnessed it before on the east coast of Bali, but here the process is a little different.
Folk in Katewel import bags of salt infused sand from neighbouring Sumbawa, which seemed odd to us as they have both sand and sea water right at their doorstep. They then processes the salty sand by filtering through local salty seawater to produce a very salty brine. The brine is then “cooked” or spread over large metal trays on driftwood fires. The producers scrape the salt crystals and stir the mixture as the water evaporates.
In Bali they rely on the sun, but here production is much quicker and can continue through the wet season. This method produces many kilograms of salt at a time, and some huts have two batches on the go. It seems to be a booming business as the thatch salt huts make up a small village metres from the shore, in front of the village proper.
The huts are unbearably hot and smokey inside (for us). Most other industry in Katewel is based around fishing as the area is too dry for much agriculture. A picturesque tin-roof mosque sits on the shore end of the town. Katewel is about 18 kilometres northeast of Waitabula and borders Mananga Amba Beach.
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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