Sunday, January 10, 2010

No such thing as Off the Beaten Track

This is Hierve el Agua, which actually directly translates into "Where the Water Boils". It is an appropriate name for the site. The last time Ralph and I were in Oaxaca, in July 2006, the site was closed due to some controversy within the communities that are driven through to get to this remarkable site.
Seeing as this was our first time going there, we had no way of warning our guests, Angie, Ayla, Alison and Luis about the condition of the roads once off the highway. Other than the initial village you must drive through to get to the main road over the mountain, it was not that bad of a drive. Steep switchbacks on a gravel road, 1 lane for both directions of traffic, and no shoulder for 13 kilometres. Ralph and I had been on worse. Our guests, not so much.
Follow the hand written signs for Hierve el Agua and you arrive at a spectacular site. The water fall is created by the slow flow and ultimate evaporation of highly mineralized water, which springs out of the ground to the surface in at least 2 places we could see. Therefore, the "waterfall" in this picture is not actually water flowing, but the deposits of water that once flowed. Pretty cool, eh?

15 pesos per person gets you through the gate. A bit more of a hike downhill and you come to a splendid view, and the locals have created small pools for the spring water to flow into, making the place prime for chilling and splashing in the water. The site offers two hikes, one to stand on top of the actual waterfall, the other to the base. We did not do the hikes this time, but plan to go back soon to do some more exploring.

At the top of the hill are a few basic food stands where you can sit for a quick and local bite to eat and a drink. The prices are economical (lunch for 6 of us was 175 pesos), which had my sister speculating about Oaxaca tourist sites in general. She likened the adventure to Hierve el Agua to a Canadian water park, where you drive for over an hour, pay 60 Canadian dollars to get in, and then they charge you another 20 dollars for lunch, per person.

I guess there are sacrifices to be made for paved roads.

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