Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Frozen Waterfalls

Written by Karen.
Hierve el Agua - located just outside of Oaxaca - is one of only two places in the world that have natural rock waterfalls made of minerals and calcium carbonate deposits that look like flowing water.

We had heard that the road to reach Hierve el Agua was challenging - with steep drop-offs, no guard rails, narrow, winding, dirt roads, needed four-wheel drive, etc. - and we actually decided against putting Chinook through the trauma of driving up to visit Hierve el Agua. It’s off the beaten path and we’re being a bit conservative with Chinook so that we can go the distance into South America. 

My thought is that we know Chinook has limitations and has a certain amount of miles in him - kinda’ like us humans. After a certain amount of time/energy/effort, we can both just run out of gas for awhile. So, knowing that we still have a long way to go on our trip, why use up any of those banked miles unnecessarily? Adam thinks similarly. Neither one of us wants to break down in the middle of nowhere. And, we still want to make it to the bottom of Terra del Fuego. So we make judgements about what we really must see and what we want to experience, and what is not so important to see on our travels in order to protect our little traveling house and mobile partner, Chinook. 

But we have also learned to take recommendations and cautions with a bit of a grain of salt. And, in this case, the caution was clearly overstated. We ultimately decided to caravan with another traveling couple - John and Paula from the Bay Area - who were also curious about Hierve el Agua, and we all went to see the place for ourselves in our respective vehicles.  The road was dusty, rocky and narrow, but not that bad. Chinook made it to the top of the mountain slowly, but quite easily. 

It was very hot up there. It was the type of searing heat that makes the sweat on your skin start to dry into tiny salt crystals and the remaining moisture crinkle on your skin. There were only a few of us exploring Hierve el Agua and the natural setting was very quiet. You could sit on the very edge of the mountain and stare off into the distance and feel as if you were all alone in another world. And in some ways you were in another world. The colors of the white, red, orange rocks and minerals, the green and turquoise water and blue skies looked like we had been suddenly transported to Yellowstone with its painted pots of color and steam. The difference was that the mineral water in these pools was cool - not boiling hot. While it is believed that these mineral pools were considered sacred for their healing powers by the Zapotecs, we didn't go into the water. It was just too hot to hang out unprotected in the direct sun.  

But, it turned out to be a beautiful and desolate place. A place out of the way and that took an effort to see.  It would have been easy to not have taken this road less traveled and called it prudence. 

After 90 days, we are still getting to understand our travel team's limits. We may have undersold Chinook a bit. We’ve driven over 5,000 miles so far in Mexico and haven’t had any serious mechanical issues yet. 

Deciding where to go and how to get there is a constant balancing act of preferences and capabilities. But, I wonder if we sometimes attribute caution of Chinook as a convenient excuse for us not to go outside of our comfort zone? To not take that dirt road instead of the known and established highway? To play it safe? I don’t know. We’re still working on finding that balance.

The natural rock formations that make up the "frozen waterfalls".
Close-up of the natural rock formations
One of the mineral pools looks like an infinity pool with the water going over the edge.  The colors are otherworldly, incredibly rich and beautiful.
Another look at the mineral pool
The water comes up to the edge of the rock formation and then spills over.  There are no safety railings.  
An architectural perspective with the pools
One of the bubbling springs that came up through the mountain.  The many minerals create the variety of colors.  
Standing on the mountain with Hierve el Agua in the distance.  Our matching shirts were just a coincidence.  It's laundry time!


Jennifer Chase said...

Absolutely breathtaking! Glad to see your posts again.

This Journey We Call Life said...

Thanks Jennifer! We appreciate your continued readership :)


Joanne said...

Joyce had told me you're on the road again. It's great to see what you're up to! Love the "infinity pool."

tlc2950 said...

1st...I fell upon your blog and I have enjoyed reading it so much tonight and looking at your beautiful adventure!

2nd...I am so jealous and envious of your journey!!

3rd...I am so in love with your photos and was wondering if I could use a few copies of several pictures from Italy?

4th...I pray you and your husband will experience many more travels. And I hope that we can continue to enjoy these beautiful countries through your eyes!

Always, Enjoy the Journey!!

This Journey We Call Life said...

Hi Joanne -

Thanks for checking in! The infinity pool at Hierve el Agua was unbelievable. The drop was hundreds of feet down the mountain. But, the view was endless!


This Journey We Call Life said...

Hi TLC2950 -

Thanks for your comments. We appreciate your feedback. It's always great to hear from our readers!

Thanks for asking about our Italy pictures....please send me a private email at karen@chipsanddents.com and we can talk further.


Debra Melfi said...

Beautiful picture

This Journey We Call Life said...

Thanks Debra. It's a beautiful spot. Karen.