9 May 2013
The water boils
There must be some kind of spell on me whenever I head to mineral formations.
When I breathlessly cycled to the astonishing circular Inca terraces and then to the nearby multi-coloured salt ponds in Peru’s Sacred Valley, I did not notice the trail avoiding a long detour in the mountains. This time, in the equally mountainous region of the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, I thankfully was not cycling but desperately driving my cheap rental car in first gear on a narrow track through the sierra, the feeble air conditioning blowing and puffing all it could to cool me a little – the first instance of the water “boiling”, read on – as I was intensely focusing on not missing a curve, hoping no tyre would burst because of the heat or because of some sharp gravel.
So that was supposed to be the easy route or perhaps even the only one (the locals never gave me the same story as to how to get to my destination)? For sure, the scenery was magnificent. It’s only on the way back that I was able to cut down the hour of driving by two by taking the perfectly paved road. Argh.
But, just like in Peru, my efforts paid off with, waiting for me (I can always believe that...) turquoise green pools with that lonesome, almost-dead tree and a background of mountains adding the perfect final touch to pictures. What a delight it would be to swim in those pools, so green because of their mineral concentration, after briefly hiking to the nearby “petrified” waterfalls, almost one hundred metres high.
Those waterfalls are in fact rock formations created by water that is so saturated with minerals that they cling to the cliffs as the water runs down imperceptibly. The funny thing is that the water is coming from underground currents, bubbling up to the surface, right at the top of the “waterfall” before flowing down. This bubbling action – one can actually see the water come out – which gives the impression that the water is boiling gave its name to the site, Hierve el Agua.
After hiking up and down a path which was better suited for giants considering the height of some steps (or maybe Mexicans are very, very tall, but I didn’t notice that), what a simple pleasure it was to rest a few moments inside one of the pools located just at the edge of the cliff... if only I did not have to keep an eye open watching out for those vultures hovering over my head!