We at Afar Salt™ are proud to announce that Afar Salt Pearls are back in stock, and ready for delivery. We're sory to have been away for so long, but with new harvest in bloom, we are ready to ship your order to you now. But people, you have no idea what it takes and took to bring these magnificent sea salt pearls to you.
I am Mesfen Manna, procurer and founder of Afar Salt™.
These Afar Salt Pearls had been virtually unheard of, even in the region of origin and yet they have been produced in constancy by Mother Nature Herself and traded as small troves of treasure for an era or more. Afar Salt Pearls, what a wonder to behold, and have. Yet it’s not so easy accessing pure, natural and traditional Afar Salt™, in any volume from any part of The Afar Triangle. If you don’t have proper permission and authorization from the local leaders you won’t leave there with one grain. The Afar people are friendly but fierce, raised in a harsh, desert environment; they are extremely proud of their tradition and extremely protective of their salt.
My first, hands on encounter with Afar Salt™ was in Eritrea 2004. My great friend Samuel Keleta and I were on the salt trail; now I knew what I wanted, but Samuel didn’t catch on so fast. “You want salt, my brother”! He said to me. “Yes”, I said. “Come with me”, he said. I followed, knowing well that I wasn’t about to find what I was looking for, not at the market. What I was looking for was much more remote, but I wanted to see what they had at the market, so we went. The market was teaming and bustling but my mission was salt. “Let me see what we have here” next to the 50 kilo salt bags, sealed. I had them open a bag so I could look and I could tell right away this salt was from the salt plant in the port town Massawa, northern most Afar territory. And that was where I was planning to go, that was my next salt destination.
The road to Massawa is spectacular and many have written about its breath taking scenery and peril, coming down out of the beloved mountains (temp is cool), into the desert plain which lines the coast. It’s very hot here, the attire required, very different. We grabbed a hotel room not too far from the shore and immediately made our way toward it. I was picking up pieces of salt encrusted sand and wondering where the salt was at, seems as if there had been some here some time ago. Samuel, still a little baffled as to what I was looking for engaged an old man, obviously Afar, who was standing alone out in the middle of this empty potential salt pan. Samuel asked the gentleman where was the Afar salt manufacturing taking place, at my prompting, and the man responded quite harshly, that the Afar salt trade was dead, and such and such. The Massawa salt plant produces all salt for the country, well, at least it’s local and not imported salt, but no room for small producers of salt around here, yet I still wanted to visit the plant. There was only one security guard covering the whole plant, so a small tip and I’m in. Mountains of salt but not what I want, so I took a heavy piece of salt and exited back to the hotel. Samuel was asking what next and I was telling him we can find what I’m looking for in Assab. “You want go Assab, my brother, you sure. You want go Assab”? “Yes”, I said. I understood his reservation, Assab is even hotter and is pretty much as far south as you’re going to go unless you’re military or local.
We took a small plane to Assab, a very scary ride, and got into a hotel which wasn’t bad. We met an Afar gentleman named Ali who scheduled for us to meet that evening to take us to a salt dealer. We walked through the shanty village up to a large storage room, the size of some ones house, filled to capacity with salt. At the dealers house in the living room his family was present. It was nice but did feel a bit clandestine when he came in and put a big salt rock down on the glass coffee table for me to examine. I nodded and smiled like I was taking it into consideration but this was certainly not what I was looking for. I went back to the hotel and Samuel went out to think. When he came back he told me that he finally understands what I’m looking for and that Ali was going to lead us to an Afar garden of salt in the morning, and I was ecstatic. Early morning we were on the road several miles outside of the town. When we got to the garden I threw open the door and ran out on to it. It was beautiful and exactly what I was looking for. Thus far I had researched and studied it from scant information and from a distance, now I was finally in front of it, Afar Salt™. It was a traditional salt pan, a man made reservoir with a canal leading to the sea where the water enters from and then is captured. I do not know how deep the pan was but it was solid salt as hard as rock. I chiseled up large pieces and the others began to follow and we put all the pieces in a large sack. The owner and I made a fair deal and he told me that he would love to do more business with me because the traditional markets have been closed for some time now and the salt is just sitting.
See, it was hard enough for them even in times when there local markets were thriving. Now with even those revenue channels drying up, these proud people were beginning to despair. And I knew that. That’s the reason why we decided to begin this mission and task. To bring you Afar Salt™, direct from the small producers, who are the most ancient salt traders in the history of salt, but that’s another story. The salt from there was solid, like ice and crystal. It was my first time travelling international and I became surprised when I made it through the customs and baggage security with those samples, but did, and quickly got them home sending some to get chemically analyzed by Carl Nelson, ENC Labs. He reported back to me the high quality of the salt with remarkable purity, in fact he believed it to have been washed, but I produced those samples myself and so was tickled to hear the assertion. We began to distribute samples to several distributors in the market and eventually got some interest. We decided to go back, but this time to the southern tip of the Afar Triangle in a location I had just stumbled across recently, Lake Assal, Djibouti.
It took some time but I landed in Djibouti without one single contact person in the country or one clue where I was going. I hustled up a taxi and told him to take me to the most inexpensive hotel in the city, and he brought me to the place where I would meet some of my best friends. I made immediate contact with the right people and the arrangements regarding the extract of Afar Salt™ were underway. I had set in motion the first, to my visibility, shipments of Afar Salt™ to the U.S. for market and felt extremely proud of it. I was deeply focused, setting out for Lake Assal to oversee the bagging process for quality control purposes and such, when I discovered for myself, in the hands of some youngsters, the majestic Afar Salt Pearls. It took me by surprise seeing those beautiful, round pearls of Afar Salt™. We negotiated the price for packets of pearls under the moon light. The youngsters that I brought those samples from are members of our team today, but at that time we were just tourist and they were happy to sell their souvenirs and receive double what we negotiated. We shipped the container of Afar Salt™ , natural fine grade, scooped straight from the pristine beach of Lake Assal and stored it in a food certified warehouse here in Boston. But I was obsessed with delivering to you, the Afar Salt Pearls as soon as possible. So we began distributing samples of the pearls and within several months we began to get feedback. I went back immediately and ultimately set up teams, to harvest medium size volumes of Afar Salt Pearls, to enter into the market here. I worked like everybody else collecting the pearls, in the burning heat with rapid salt water waves splashing into my eyes but I loved it. We worked on the barren salt glacier of Lake Assal, harvesting pearls from the lake edge for approximately one month. We bonded with our guys tremendously during that time. The elders even found my lineage with the Afar blood line in it and I gained blessings from The Sultan, a big deal to me, so I began to be received as family. We brought the pearls to market and are committed to continue bringing them to you direct from the Afar Triangle and the people of Lake Assal.