Day 20: Oaxaca - Hierve El Agua - Mitla - Puerto テ]gel

Mitla Travel Blog

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Hierve el Agua
 

As our bus to Puerto テ]gel would not leave until 21:30 tonight, we had a nice full day to do an excursion to the Valle Central, the central valley in the state of Oaxaca.


The first stop of this trip was Hierve El Agua, which means something like boiling water. All the way at the end of this valley, high up in the mountains, there are several small geysers and hot water springs. Not only do these springs fill nearby thermal baths, but through the years stunning stalactites have been formed by the chalk residue left by the running water. So along the cliff face are stunningly coloured stalactites hanging about ten metres down. A cave without a cave so to speak.

The white, light yellow, red, brown and black stalactites resemble a petrified waterfall - really something special.

Hierve el Agua


We did the two-kilometre walk around several of these 'waterfalls'. We met a nice German couple who turned out to have the same idea for New Year's as we had: Puerto テ]gel. They were travelling pretty much the same way as I prefer: 窶忤e'll just see what we do when we get there窶. However, when I told them of the trouble we'd had booking a hotel in Puerto テ]gel they got somewhat worried. I gave them the telephone number of our hotel, because I knew they still had some rooms left for New Year's.


The next stop was the village of Mitla, where, for a change, they have ruins. Well, actually, it was a change, as these aren't ruins, but very well preserved square buildings. In the time of the Spanish conquest this village had been missed by the Spanish, which means that these buildings were never destroyed (unlike pretty much every other pre-colonial city in Latin America).

Hierve el Agua

True, by the time Mitla was discovered the newly independent Mexicans still followed Spanish tradition by building a catholic church smack on top of an ancient temple, but at least the rest of the buildings were left alone.


Our tourguide had several nice stories and anecdotes to tell about this place. He told us this had been a city built for people to die, not as a place to live.


The final stop of the tour was a village called El Tule. In this village stands a huge tree, which is regarded as the largest living creature on earth. The tree is 42 metres high, and the trunk is 58 metres around. Its age is estimated between 2000 and 3000 years old.

The tree needs as much as 5000 litres of water a day (!!), which is being pumped in from a nearby lake.

The fact that people here are so protective of this tree is very unique in Mexico, where environmental care normally isn't particularly high on the agenda.

Mitla
When you think about the fact that central Mexico has permanent water shortages, it is quite unique that they give 5000 litres a day to a tree.


Back in Oaxaca we said goodbye to Michael and Christine, the German couple, and agreed that we would meet-up again in Puerto テ]gel.

We had just about enough time for a horrible pizza, before we boarded the rickety bus to Pochutla, the town from which we would have to take an onwards bus to Puerto テ]gel.


It's funny how south of Mexico City the quality of buses is completely different than in the north. This is clearly a poorer region of the country.

Bus companies still call this Primera Clasa (first class) but if I compared this bus to the buses to Guadalajara, I only had about half as much legroom in these.

I chatted about this with a Mexican passenger for a while and he joked that Mexican Primera Clasa only means that there's a TV on the bus. It has nothing to do with comfort. And a TV we had. Once again, smashing entertainment in the guise of a Jean-Claude van Damme film dubbed in Spanish.

cfdprogrammer says:
Hi Biedjee, thanks for the hint!
Cheers

Simon
Posted on: Oct 05, 2009
Biedjee says:
Hi Simon,
We did a day trip to Hierve el Agua and Mitla from Oaxaca. Back in Oaxaca we took the night bus to Puerto Angel.
Cheers,
Bart
Posted on: Oct 05, 2009
cfdprogrammer says:
Hi there,
thanks for your blog on your trip to MExico! We are leaving soon and would like a couple on info on what you did on your day 20 since we are planning a very similar route;

the day you left Oaxaca did you go directly to Hierve el Agua? And from there, when and how did you get to go to Pueto Angel?

Thanks, enjoy!
Simon
Posted on: Oct 03, 2009
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Hierve el Agua
Hierve el Agua
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A great lunch, serving all kinds o…
A great lunch, serving all kinds …
Impressive cacti near Hierve el Ag…
Impressive cacti near Hierve el A…
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El Tule, the largest living creatu…
El Tule, the largest living creat…
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photo by: Biedjee