Travel: Hierve el Agua and Oaxaca, Mexico

Years ago, seven friends and I piled into a VW Pointer and went away on a road trip.

I will spare you the details of the ensuing drama (involving unfounded jealousy created by an irate girlfriend towards me) for another post but can safely say we had arrived in Oaxaca City for good food and adventure.

My Spanish was nowhere near as good as it is now and because of this, I had no idea where we were going so all I remember was the group getting into the car one day and driving off.

We had gotten to a dusty unpaved road, locals herding their goats along the same path, alongside the car.

Which was when I saw the green transit sign in white letters that said, “Hierve el Agua” (Boil the Water).

“Lord,” I thought to myself. “There must be an outbreak of cholera or something.”

I kept seeing the signs and wondered how large this epidemic was.

It had never occurred to me to ask why we were heading into a disease-stricken area.

When we got to the end of the road, however, I realized what was going on: “Hierve el Agua” is not an instruction; it’s a place.

And there you can find a natural spring that filled smalls pools with water where people were bathing and getting mud treatments. The spring itself sat on a tall cliff and as the water is so rich in minerals, the tiny spring of water started producing what is now a very large petrified waterfall.

Nope. No cholera here. Only adventure and good food!


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