Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hierve el Aqua - Oaxaca

One of my favorite excursions of this trip was a visit to Hierve el Aqua (the water boils).  
First, Frida and I walked to the collectivo stand in Oaxaca city and after asking for directions 5 times, we finally managed to find the collectives heading to Mitla. We jumped into a public taxi and for 35 pesos each, we rode 50 minutes outside of Oaxaca city to the small town of Mitla.
Once in Mitla, we immediately found the "tours" that take you up to Hierve el Aqua. It's really just a few beat up covered trucks that wait around for budget travelers like ourselves. They hold 8-11 people, and if full, you only have to pay 35 pesos roundtrip. We waited for about 45 minutes, and then got too impatient and so bargained with the driver, settling on a 80 peso roundtrip journey.
Off thru the desert we went - up a winding mountain road, hurtling past donkeys and  enormous cacti and kicking up a crazy dust storm. 

The 45 minute ride ended at a small tourist alcove complete with bathrooms, cafes, a few shops, and a few cabanas. We bought water, mezcal, and chips and then walked a short ten minutes to the first cliff.  Hierve el Aqua consists of two rock shelves or cliffs that rise 50-90 meters above the valley. They are created by natural fresh water springs whose water is over-saturated with calcium carbonate and other minerals. As the water meanders over the cliffs, the excess minerals are deposited creating what looks like white petrified waterfalls .

The first cliff, known as Cascada Chica, has 4 springs, 2 artificial pools, and several small natural pools. Here, visitors can "swim" in the water that is said to have healing qualities while looking out over an incredible mountain vista. Due to the various minerals, the water can appear vivid blue or green and is a nice cool temperature. 

Frida and I laid on top of the mountain, sipping mezcal, soaking in the sun, and enjoying the serenity that only comes from a place that is full of incredible natural beauty. I have never seen anything like it before. We cherished our time at Hierve el Aqua and it will always be one of my favorite places in Mexico.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chiapas Day 1: An Intro to San Cristobal de las Casas

After a short flight from Cancun to Tuxtla Gutierrez, a 30min taxi ride to the bus station and an hour bise ride along a curvy mountain road, Frida and I arrived in San Cristóbal de las Casas just as the sun was beginning to set. I snapped this photo of the cathedral from a taxi on our way to our hostel, Rosco Backpackers. 

San Cristóbal de las Casas is one of Mexico's Pueblo Mágico's - or magical villages. It is 7,200 feet above sea level, nestled in a valley surrounded by hills and forests in the state of Chiapas. It is known as the cultural capital of Chiapas. As I walked the streets, it was easy to see why. Home to indigenous tribes, bohemians, and a myriad of expats that fell in love with the city and decided to call it home, San Cristobal is full of artists and musicians, vibrant colors, delicious food, and a serenity that is only found in valleys.

 I loved meandering thru the cobblestone streets, gazing up at wrought iron terraces and red clay rooftops, and photographing the doorways, houses, and street signs that came in every color, shade, and nuance of the rainbow. 

I immediately fell in love with this beautiful city, loving the vibrant colors, myriad of arts, and of course the amazing street food. The zocola and streets are full of cafes, shops, street vendors, and musicians. As the sunset and the weather dropped, we continued to walk the streets, soaking in the sounds, smells, and beauty of San Cristobal.