The Mystery Across the Secret Bridge
CHAPTER 1 Salt Mines on a Cliff
Ethan Briar peered over the edge of the rocky cliff. “Whoa! That’s a big drop!” he exclaimed. The roaring river down below now looked like a skinny ribbon.
“Yeah, I believe you,” said his twin sister, Ella, nervously. She kept her gaze straight ahead and clutched Butterscotch’s reins. “Butterscotch”
was the nickname she had given her Peruvian Paso horse. Ethan called his horse “Keeper” because he liked soccer.
Ella, Ethan, and their parents, Andy and Josephine, were horseback riding through the Sacred Valley in Peru. The guide, Fernando, led their tour group along a dirt path that went steeply uphill. Towering mountains and lush, green grass surrounded them.
The Sacred Valley was the Briars’ second stop in Peru. Their first stop had been the capital city of Lima. In Lima, they explored catacombs, which were ancient passageways underground, and swam in the Pacific Ocean. It
was the same ocean they swam in when they had visited their cousins in California the year before!
The Briar family was taking a big trip around the world. Mrs. Briar was writing about their trip for the Brookeston Times, which was their hometown newspaper. The family had already been to Italy, France, China, Kenya, and India since leaving Brookeston several months ago.
“Kids, check it out!” Mrs. Briar said, pointing.
The twins gasped. Up ahead was a sight that was both totally awesome and confusing at the same time! Wide terraces had been carved into the side of a mountain. Along those terraces were little pools. Hundreds of white patches covered the pools, like snow.
Except that it wasn’t snow.
“We have arrived at the salineras de Maras, or the salt mines of Maras,” Fernando, the guide, explained. “The people of this area have harvested salt here since before the time of the Incas. There is natural salt water inside this mountain. The people let the salt water collect into pools. They wait for the
water to evaporate, or dry up, in the sun. What remains are those white patches of salt you see before you.”