GLOSS Issue 5 ( Jan / Feb 2018 ) - Page 91

T R AV E L World’s Largest Salt Flat Dubbed as one of the most remarkable vistas in all of South Africa, if not Earth, Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni spans over 10,500 sq km and is the result of prehistoric lakes evaporated long ago. A thick crust of salt stretches to the horizon, covered by quilted, polygonal patterns of salt rising from the ground. Certain times of the year (rainy season,) nearby lakes overflow and a thin layer of water transforms the flats into a stunning reflection of the sky which is colloquially referred to as the mirror effect. During the dry season though, temperatures are colder and harden the ground, allowing travellers to drive across the landscape to areas of the flat which aren’t accessible during rainy season. This out-of-this-world terrain is also home to the world’s first salt hotel. Museum Of The Dead A macabre spectacle or a unique display of cultural heritage? It’s a matter of opinion between the two when it comes to visiting Sicily’s Capuchin Catacombs. Created back in the late 16th century after the Capuchin monastery’s cemetery became overrun, the underground tombs contain around 8,000 bodies divided into separate corridors, including one for religious figures, one for professional men, and one for children. The Door To Hell Supernatural writer Eric Kripke may tell us that the Devil’s Gate is in Wyoming, and Joss Whedon may have led us to believe that the entrance to hell is in Sunnydale, California in Buffy the Vampire Slayer – but in Turkmenistan, people believe it is actually in Ahal Province. Located in the middle of the Karakum Desert is a 230-foot-wide crater that simply won’t stop burning, and is ‘fondly’ referred to as The Door to Hell by locals. The story behind it traces back to Soviet engineers in 1971 who, upon believing that site was an oil field, drilled into a natural gas pocket thereby releasing methane into the environment. To prevent the spread of the poisonous gas, the engineers set fire to the crater to burn the gas leaving us with an almost 50-year-old anomaly. Among the corpses also lies Rosalia Lombardo, a two-year-old mummy who is referred to as the ‘Sleeping Beauty of Palermo’ because of her near- perfect preservation. The rest of the bodies are also presented like a museum exhibit, largely dressed to the nines considering the number of noble families displayed – sound like fun?