Friday, September 25, 2009


The Salton Sea is a saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault. The lake occupies the lowest elevations of the Salton Sink in the Colorado Desert of Riverside and Imperial Counties in Southern California. It is located below sea level, with the current surface of the Salton Sea at 226 ft (69 m) below sea level. The lake covers a surface area of approximately 376 sq mi (970 km2), the largest in California.

The name "Salton" appears to be connected with salt mining in the area, at least as early as 1815. With the extension of a rail line through the basin, large scale salt mining started in 1884. After that, the general area is referred to as the 'Salton Sink' or the 'Salton Basin', "sink" or "basin" referring to the area's bowl-shaped topography.

The creation of the Salton Sea of today started in 1905, when heavy rainfall and snowmelt caused the Colorado River to swell and breach an Imperial Valley dike. It took nearly two years to control the Colorado River’s flow into the formerly dry Salton Sink and stop the flooding. As the basin filled, the town of Salton, a Southern Pacific Railroad siding and Torres-Martinez Indian land were submerged. The sudden influx of water and the lack of any drainage from the basin resulted in the formation of the Salton Sea.

The lack of an outflow means that the Salton Sea is a system of accelerated change. By the 1960s it was apparent that the salinity of the Salton Sea was rising, jeopardizing some of the species in it. The Salton Sea currently has a salinity exceeding 40‰ (parts per thousand) (saltier than seawater) and many species of fish are no longer able to survive in the Salton. Fertilizer runoff, combined with the increasing salinity and the highly polluted water from the northward-flowing New River have resulted in large algal blooms and elevated bacteria levels. The New River is considered to be the single most polluted river in America.

I visited the Salton Sea in April 2009 and it was a spooky experience. It was baking hot, at least 37 degrees C; I felt like I was in the middle of the desert. It was creepily quiet, long since abandoned and full of remnants of a life that once was. The ground by the sea crunched as I walked, it was covered in small fish bones caked in dried up salt. Dead, rotten, dried out fish were washed up on the shore. There was no breeze. A ghost town of a different kind.

Beyond the immediate area of the actual sea was an equally creepy half abandoned trailer park. The few people living here were like 'the ones that got left behind', ghostly people who would just appear, seemingly out of nowhere. Most of the trailers were boarded up and dilapidated, some were for sale. People drove around on golf buggies and seemed to have never left the trailer park. I asked an old geezer on a golf cart what existed on the other side of the sea. His dog promptly attacked me while he looked on at me like nobody had ever spoken to him before. I didn't hang around for very long.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chicken buses in Guatemala

A 'chicken bus' (Spanish: "camioneta") is a colloquial English name for a colorful modified and decorated US school bus and transit bus that transports goods and people between communities in Honduras and Guatemala. The word "chicken" refers to the fact that rural Guatemalans regularly transport live animals on such buses, a practice that visitors from other countries often find remarkable.

I visited Guatemala last Summer and became slightly obsessed/ fascinated by 'Chicken Buses'. Personally I found the way they were decorated and personalised remarkable. Each one had it's own individual character and I found myself spending hours in the bus station watching them come and go. A journey on the bus also became an experience in itself. Guatemalan music blaring, people chatting, there always seemed to be room for more passengers and animals (mainly chickens in cages shoved on the racks above the seats) even though the bus seemed to be bursting at the seams. Below are some shots I took during my time at the bus station.......