On Wednesday I set off in the morning to visit nearby hot springs. I knew that the hot springs were about an hour by bus from Popayan in the small town of Coconuco. What i did not realize was how inaccessible they were once in Coconuco. It was a winding bus ride with my eyes glued to the road as we maneuvered into the wrong lane multiple times to pass a slow car or bus, almost driving straight into motorcycles and other buses. These rides may just be the most dangerous part of Colombia.
Nevertheless, i arrived in Coconuco alone and was told by the bus driver to wait on a certain street for a passing motorcycle taxi (would have been my first ride on a motorcycle) or just a regular taxi. After 25 minutes of waiting in the rain with a few other local Colombians, i took off on foot for the hot springs. I figured they could not be to far off and i was right to an extent.
About 15 minutes later i approached 2 signs pointing in different directions to the two different hot springs in town. But my research had told me only one was actually hot. After asking a few locals going about their daily routine tending chickens, etc., i determined it was the Hirviendes springs that was actually hot. Now it was raining hard. The walk was uphill and there were no more signs for the springs. I walked past the occasional tienda, some chickens, and a few folks going in the other direction towards town. But for a 45 minute period it was just me, alone, in the countryside. It was beautiful.
I eventually made it after 1 1/2 hours of walking and asking directions from a few locals along the way.
By the time i got there, the hot springs felt just as relaxing as i hoped. I saw cows just outside the gates mooing on occasion and chickens were making noise in the parking lot. It was rural.
Even the rain stopped. It was just me, a few children, and two couples enjoying the different pools of varying temperatures. Lunch was tasty. A whole grilled trout, vegetable soup, rice, salad, and fresh papaya juice all for $8,000 pesos or about $5.
I read part of ¨The Fruit Palace¨ for a while. The kids also practiced some English on me. The hours passed by and dusk began approaching. The rain soon poured . It also seemed sensible that a few taxis would be waiting at the springs to take people back into town. The rain must have convinced them not to and the road (dirt road) conditions became awful .
After 45 minutes of waiting in the lot, i started the journey back into town. It was important to get back in time before dark as there would be no bus after and it would be difficult finding my way back as the path split a few different ways. But after an hour downhill i made it just as the bus was leaving for Popayan.
Back in Popayan the owner of the hostel locked herself out so i left Popayan for Cali a little later than planned. But 2 hours later i was in Cali, one of the major cities here in Colombia.