Curacao, the salt pans of Jan Thiel
The salt pans of Jan Thiel date from the first half of the 18th century. In 1737 the Jewish merchant Jozef Penso bought the Damasco plantation from the Dutchman Jan Thielen. The “Puerto Sardinero” lagoon ran from the sea all the way to the edge of the plantation. By building dams from rapeseed stones the water was retained, after which the sun evaporated the water and salt could deposit on the bottom of the reservoir that was created. The salt was collected by slaves and Portuguese workers, after which it was sold in Willemstad.
In 1915, Casper Arthur Perret Gentil bought the Damasco plantation where he grew and exported oranges, mangos, coconuts, bananas, medlar and kenepa to France, Venezuela and Sto. Domingo. In addition, he kept cattle and expanded the salt pans, whereby in good years sometimes up to 20,000 barrels (of 130 kilos) were extracted. The salt was sold to Cuba and Sto Domingo, among others. Shell was also a major buyer who used the salt for refining crude oil from Venezuela.
In the 70s, the plantation was sold to the General Pension Fund Netherlands Antilles, which parcelled out parts of the area for houses, villas, apartments and resorts. Fortunately, the salt pans were spared.
The salt pans are now a beautiful nature area with breeding birds and beautiful walking routes. Because of the warmth, early morning and late afternoon are the best moments to visit the area. On the site Wikiloc a nice route is shown, with a bit of luck Flamingos can be spotted in the shallow water of the salt pans. Flamingos love brine shrimp and brine flies that occur frequently in salt water. The route is approximately 10 kilometers and it is wise to take water with you and rub yourself well against the sun during the walk.
Every Tuesday afternoon at 1700 hrs, a walking tour is organized under the guidance of an experienced guide. The walk takes approximately 2 hours and starts at the roundabout near the resort of Chogogo. There are costs associated with this tour. More information about the tour can be found on the site of Curacao Activities
The salt pans of Jan Thiel are located at 5 minutes walking distance from Villa Carpe Diem Curacao.
This post is also available in: Dutch