Viva la Vida – Part 7

Viva la Vida - Part 7

Viva la Vida – Part 7

A Magical Day at Tolantongo Springs

Going for a Soak

When I was booking the tour to the Pyramid of the Sun, I saw another tour, this one to hot springs about 3-4 hours north of CDMX. As it happened, I had seen pictures of it on Facebook reels a few months before and it looked amazing. Everywhere I travel if there are hot springs in the area I make a point to go visit. The tour was leaving really early in the morning 4:30am, in order to beat the crowds. Without hesitation I booked it. Being an early riser, I knew I would manage the early start time.

Tolantango Springs

Pools at Tolantango Springs

All week I looked forward to this day. Water holds great significance and fascination for me and I feel most restored and alive when I am close to it or even better in it.

Learning to Go with the Flow

Last year, thanks to a gift, I went to Calistoga with a friend and spent hours swimming and floating in a giant hot pool. As I swirled around gazing up at the stars and trees with the steam rising off the water, it occurred to me that at this moment I am here and the best thing I can do is relax and enjoy where the water takes me. I might not be here tomorrow and I may never come here again. So I grabbed a couple of pool noodles and just floated around for the longest time.

There were many troubles that I was facing and some deep unsolvable problems. Some that I have been dealing with for years and still continue. As you navigate through these challenges, the key is to be skillful and make adjustments as needed, like turning a rudder on a boat, but ultimately the water is going to take you where it wants you to go. The more we force and struggle against this current the more tired we become and the less we are able to find peace in the moment of life’s difficulties.

Trust that all is for the best. For we carry our fate with us – and it carries us.
Marcus Aurelius

It’s interesting how people and experiences pull together for a time and then drift apart. The energy of life is like moving water swirling things together and then sending them spiraling off in different directions.

Starting out in the Darkness

Around 4:45am the van came and picked me up and then stopped and got a few more guests and off we went. It was still dark out and most people slept. The sun rose from behind the mountains as we passed the outskirts of the city. The areas outside of the city proper are full of houses put together with a variety of materials, clustered on the hillsides. Aerial cable cars carry people from one hill to another. The further away we got from the city the more sparse it got.

The Pools

We arrived at the hot springs a little after 8am. Wow, they were beautiful. Fitted right into the hillside they reminded me of the ones I visited in Saturnia, Italy, that have been used since the time of the Etruscans and probably before that. There were so many different pools it was hard to decide which one to choose, so I hopped around until I found the one I liked the most.

Click on the arrows to see more pictures

The view of the canyon in the early morning light was lovely. A small waterfall cascaded down from the pools above. There were two other women traveling solo on the tour, both were from NYC and both were engineers, Carla and Naisha. 

For the Community, by the Community

Carla asked our guide who owned the pools? He told us that the whole complex was owned collectively by 112 families that live in the area. They take turns running the administration and filling different roles, changing things up so that corruption doesn’t become a problem. Everyone shares in the effort. The pools were there mostly for the local community to enjoy.

Gratitude washed over me, that they allowed visitors and that I was able to enjoy them. We soaked a while and I was happily relaxing floating in the water when our guide told us we needed to go to the next location, the waterfall. Reluctant to leave he assured me that I would like it even more.

Creatures of the Water

Since this is his job, he gets to come and visit these springs regularly. He told me that he was a creature of the water and had been among the top ten divers in all of Mexico. We connected over our shared love of water. It is my happy place, too especially warm water. One year I even dressed up as the Spirt of the Water for Halloween.

On to the Waterfall

After the hot springs we went to a restaurant nearby and ordered some breakfast. Traveling in a group as a vegan can make it hard but I found some sopes on the menu that had beans, avocado and veggies as toppings so I was happy. Then we loaded up and did the short drive over to the waterfall. We stopped brought our things and walked over. I needed a water-tight case for my phone, so I purchased one there. Looking down you see the river is a bright milky sky blue from the high mineral content in the water.

The Waterfall– Click the arrows to see more pictures

Walking up the hill you come upon a beautiful waterfall on the right. Everything around it looks so lush and alive. Below the water are bubble shaped rock shapes with green moss growing on them. To the left there is another waterfall with a cave underneath it. This is where we were going. We took off all of our stuff, held the rope and waded in. 

Connecting with Mother Nature

The water was warmer here than in the earlier pools. It gushes straight out of the top of the grotto, probably at around 102. It was astounding to experience it in person. Never had I been to a hot spring quite like that. It was as if Mother Nature herself was experiencing great ecstatic pleasure. Words don’t do justice to express the overwhelming spiritual feeling of connecting with the goddess. It was very healing.

Click on the arrows to see more pictures

There is a chamber even further back inside. The opening narrows down and the water rushes through. The only way in is to swim hard against the force. There is a rope that you hold on to as you go in. I was having a bit of trouble making it, but Carla gave me a big push from behind and I was able to get through. Once inside there was a shallower spot on the side, and in the back a really strong rush of water was pouring out. It was dark inside this part of the cave with only a little light coming through the opening. Some of the guests used their phones to light up the space. Bats were resting upside down on the ceiling of the cave. The energy of the place was powerful.

The River Pools

Next we went down to the river. Our guide, Vidal, took us to a spot where you can reach down and pick up clay from the bottom and use it as a face mask to treat your skin. We all did this and enjoyed looking silly and making our skin soft. Little birds stood on rocks above the water and I watched them as I floated around. Then Vidal let us know that it was time to head back to the city.

Click on the arrows to see more pictures

It all ended too soon. If I have the chance to go again I want to stay for at least a couple of days. Out of all the hot springs I’ve had been to, this one was the most magical.

After a quick shower, we got in the van and headed back.

Written by jennalex

Artist and designer who explores the relationship between the natural world and the digital world and aims to create art and design that expands people's consciousness and creates meaningful experiences.

June 3, 2024