Monday, May 26, 2008

Summer 2007 Car Trip - 13

With our rugs wrapped and safely stored in the back of the van, we were off to our next stop. We were headed for Hierve el Agua, or literally, The Water Boils. To get there, we had to cross the lands of the indigenous people, the descendents of the original Zapotec who populated this land.

It is interesting in that each village owns the road that goes through it. Each one has a gate at the beginning where a duty must be paid to cross the village land. This must be done as it is the only road to the site. Once past the villages, the road starts to wind up the mountain. It is a new road, carved out of the side of the mountain with dirt literally pushed up to form the road. It was not a pleasant journey. Especially since we were in the very back seat and were ordered to close all windows due to the dust being created by the drive. It was scenic but at times a bit spooky.

After what seemed an endless amount of time on this road, we were deposited in a big, rough cut parking lot above the waterfall. From there we had to make our way down an old spillway that was littered with rocks of all sizes. It was not an easy descent and I was already dreading the walk back up. Once down, I forgot all about having to return back up this spillway. There before us was the splendor that is Hierve el Agua.

That isn't actually water you are seeing. It is minerals deposited here by the water to form these huge formations running down the cliffside. It sure looks like water though.

As you can see, it is possible to actually walk out onto this formation to enjoy the view. It was a long, difficult trail to get over there so we gave it a pass. The guy in this picture is most likely not sitting in water. These formations are like rock.

Our guide told us that until 1986, these remote formations were known only to the local people, due to their remote location and difficulty to access. Before then there were no roads leading to it. One had to travel by foot or donkey. And, since these are mineral waters, really no reason to go here except for the view. Evidently in 1986 some advertising executive from the Corona beer company was told of this place and visited. Corona then did a magazine ad here with a picture of a giant bottle of Corona sitting where the guy is in the above picture. They had it foaming over so that it looked like the beer foam was running down the mountain. The rest, as they say, is history.

Where we were, there is a huge semi-flat area where the water pools and it is possible to swim in this warm, mineral laden water. It goes right up to the edge of the new waterfall being formed by the minerals. It looks dangerous but there was actually a pretty good wall so that if you were in the pool you were not in danger of falling off the cliff.

Still, I would not walk where this guy is walking. There is water spilling out of the pool, making it very slippery.

Overview of pool area.

Here you can see the wall that holds you and the water in.

What did I just say about not getting too near the edge!

The mineral laden, warm water forms funny little ripples as it slowly erodes the rock.

Here's a close up. You can actually see the mineral deposits. They are the little white bead looking things.

Play time over, we made our way slowly and painfully back up the dry riverbed we had descended an hour earlier. Or at least it was painful to me. We waited in the shade of a big tree next to the van for the rest of our group to make it back. We started to break out the lunch that we had packed but never got a chance. Just as we finished passing out sandwiches, the driver appeared and yelped for us all to get back in the van. We had our revenge though!

Once inside and underway, we broke out the chicken salad sandwiches on homemade bakery rolls and started to chow down. Everybody got a whiff and I'm sure their stomachs were growling. We kept getting stared at but nobody seemed angry. Jealous maybe because they had not thought of it. Too make it even worse for them, after the sandwiches were consumed, I broke out the last of the peanut butter chocoloate chip cookies that I had made for the trip!

We retraced our route back through the villages and made it back to the main road. Our next stop: the ruins of Mitla.

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