As planned, everyone was waiting in the lobby of the hotel at 8 am for Antonio (Luisa’s brother-in-law) who had kindly offered to drive us to Chignagvapan – the place where the hot springs were located. Around 9:30 or so Antonio showed up. This is not to say that he was late…he was just operating on “Mexican Time”. :)
We all piled into his 10 passenger van and off we went. The drive took about 2 hours or so and once again the landscape was pretty amazing on the way there. Antonio dropped us off (he had to get back to work) at the parking lot and we walked from there. The first thing you notice at this place is the overpowering smell of Sulphur! Not very pleasant and I can say with some certainty that I would never get used to that smell.
A big complex had been built around the site of the hot springs. Luisa managed to get us a tour of the whole facility. Part of the tour included a sweat lodge which was used for a Temascal, an old Aztec healing ritual. Scott, Luisa, Sean and myself signed up for the temascal for later in the day. The complex also included a nice hotel where each room had a large hot tub which could be filled with the hot springs water. There was also meditation rooms, massage rooms, steam rooms and a whirlpool with a nice view of the valley.
Everyone decided to check out the large pools which were filled with the hot springs water. We started at one of the inside pools and it was definitely warm! After spending some time inside we decided to head out to the outside pool and get some sun. The pool on the outside was WAY hotter than the one that was on the inside. I’m not sure if they mixed in some cool water to the first pool to cool it down or if the outside one was hotter simply because of the effect of the sun but wow! was it ever hot!
Before long it was time for Scott, Luisa, Sean and me to head back up to the sweat lodge for our Temascal. We left everyone else down at the outside pool. We were told that we’d be inside the actual structure for 45 minutes. The way the thing is constructed, the top half (2/5 maybe) is about twice as hot as the bottom part. We were told that the top part would reach temperatures of around 80 degrees C and the bottom would be about 40 degrees C. Needless to say they asked a whole bunch of health questions before letting us do this. And then we had to make sure we got in and out in a specific way.
It was explained to us that this was used in the past (and even today by some people) as a healing ritual. Wives would prepare it for their husbands when they were sick. It was pretty amazing…I can’t remember ever having sweat so much in my life. It started out pretty warm and the guy kept coming back to ask if we wanted it hotter. We kept answering yes. By the end of it I have no idea how hot it actually was. After 45 minutes inside the lodge we backed out, one by one, and were covered in a blanket to keep us warm. We were then lead to a warm shower and given a robe to change into. We had to drink a tea type beverage and then lay down. More towels and blankets were put over top of us and we got to rest. I have no idea how long we were resting there because I fell asleep. :) I do remember that just before I drifted off to sleep there were a few flashes as if someone was taking pictures of us. Don’t know who though…
Eventually it was time to go and we headed back down to meet up with everyone. I was feeling pretty dehydrated so I went and bought 2 litres of water. I downed it pretty quickly and started feeling better. We got a bite to eat and then it was time to head back to Puebla city. Since Antonio was gone, we had to get cabs back into the town so that we could catch a bus from there back to Puebla city. On our way to the bus stop we passed by a bar that I wish we had a chance to stop at.
We also got up close and personal with one of the many roof dogs we saw during our trip.
Well about an hour or so into the trip back to Puebla I realized that I probably shouldn’t have drunk 2 litres of water in a span of 20 minutes. Despite going to the bathroom just before getting on the bus, I had to go again. Unfortunately this particular bus was not equipped with an onboard bathroom. I tried to just ‘grin and bear it’ but soon it was painfully clear that this method was just not going to work. My plan was to simply get off at the next stop and catch the next bus a hour later. Luisa to the rescue once again…she convinced the bus driver to wait for me at the next stop. Sweet! Well as soon as the bus stopped I raced for the bathroom and had one of the longest pees of my life. Ahhh!
Once back at the Puebla bus depot we all caught cabs back to the hotel. We ate supper there and turned in relatively early. It was a good thing I ended up eating with Luisa and Scott that night because Luisa explained to me that I could not eat meat nor could I drink beer because I had taken part in the Temascal earlier. This would be my first meal that I had where I didn’t have a beer with it. It happened to be the last meal I didn’t have a beer with too. :)
The plan for the next day was to get up relatively early, and catch a lift out to Finca San Jose de las Margaritas where the ceremony was to take place.
Pictures of our trip to Chignagvapan can be found here.