Friday, July 15, 2016

Our apartment is being painted, so we figured it was a good time for a trip. We are spending two nights in the city of Mitla, where the dominant craft (every town in Oaxaca, as far as I can tell, has a dominant craft) is embroidery. We are in the market for tablecloths, napkins and possibly curtains for the apartment, so it seemed like a good time to visit Mitla. There are also ruins here, and it's not far from Hierve el Agua, which we've been wanting to visit.

This is what the cliffs look like.  That's not water -- it's some sort of mineral deposit.

Getting to Hierve el Agua is pretty hellish.  You can take a taxi from Mitla, which goes on a road which is a series of hairpin turns which your taxi driver, if he's anything like ours (and he almost certainly will be) takes at about 60 mph.  On the way back we took a collectivo instead, which is a collective taxi, so instead of a car it's a pickup truck with a metal frame and a few benches in the back.  We refused to ride in the back (we had visions of hitting a bump and flying right off the bench and straight out the back of the truck) so we had to wait awhile for one that had the front seats available.  The collectivo takes a much shorter route than the taxi, since trucks can handle the dirt road that goes straight up and down the hill between Mitla and Hierve el Agua.  It takes almost as long, though, because the road is so rough and steep that they can't go more than about 20 or 30 mph.  It's still pretty harrowing, since the road is steep and narrow and also full of hairpin turns.  Just to make the experience even more exciting, the collectivo driver had a tablet next to his seat running a movie which he occasionally glanced at, and twice he took out his cell phone and dialed a number.  When we told him that we were getting very nervous because he was watching television, he said, "Don't worry, I've been doing this for 10 years."  Ah, Mexico.

Once you get there, after pausing a minute to thank your favorite deity for arriving in one piece, you have to hike for about 10 minutes down a rocky trail to get your view of the above rock formation, and to the place where water bubbles up from a spring and you can go swimming.

Here's Indigo in one of the pools. Notice the sheer drop-off at the edge. It's not as dangerous as it looks -- there's a wall at the edge, and even if you fell off it you'd land just a few feet down, although you'd land on a slippery wet rock, and then probably slide to your doom.

It kind of exemplifies the difference between Mexico and the U.S. In the U.S., this pool would be fenced off and there would be "Danger Keep Out" signs everywhere, but every year or two someone would sneak in and go for a swim at night while drunk and fall off and die. In Mexico, they just put up a couple of "Be Careful" signs, let people do what they want, and every year or two someone probably does something careless and falls off and dies.

The water has created some beautiful patterns in the rock, and the whole area near the pools looks like this...

...and like this.

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