Carpets of Salt

I’ve been on holiday. Even when I have time off it’s hard to stop seeing every activity from a professional angle. Each sport and every physical activity has its risks and the “alfombras de sal” weekend in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands is no exception.

Carpets of Salt Arrecife Lanzarote

Every year at the time of Corpus Christi, local groups in Arrecife decorate the roads around the church with brightly coloured pictures made from dyed salt. First they mark out the edges with bits of wood and nails, then they create the pattern with chalk, string and MDF templates.

Corpus Christi – Arecife 2010 – Lanzarote

A road digger dumps piles of salt nearby and the volunteers use shovels and wheelbarrows to gather salt and mix it with powder dyes to make the colours for the picture

Corpus Christi – Arecife 2010 – Lanzarote

Filling in the pattern is done by hand using a combination of buckets, trowels and hands. The salt is then tamped down to form a layer about an inch thick. The work begins at 2pm on Saturday and continues into the late evening.

Corpus Christi – Arecife 2010 – Lanzarote

On the following day, after a mass in the church the priest led a procession over the “carpets of salt”, called alfombras de sal in Spanish. Then soon after, the council workers came along and swept up all the salt and cleaned the streets, by Monday morning it had all gone.

Apart from pushing heavy wheelbarrows full of salt and shovelling, the activity I thought would cause most pain was the hours spent on hands and knees. I expect a few people were suffering on Monday morning.