I hadn't made the drive to Puertecitos
for several years. Why would I? What's in Puertecitos
that you can't find here in San Felipe? Well, there's
the hot springs, the geothermally heated tide pools. They
attract a steady trickle of hearty souls who want to warm
their bones in Nature's own hot tubs. And believe me,
after the drive to Puertecitos, their bones need to be
warmed. The road to Puertecitos isn't what you might call
user-friendly, having shown signs of organ-rejection only
a short time after its construction. But since its encounter
with Hurricane Nora in 1997, the road has been downright
rude. Cynthia, a visitor from Calgary, Alberta, and myself
made the journey some time ago. She had expressed a desire
to rest in the warm waters of the springs and I thought
it might be a good idea to acquaint myself with the current
We left at 7 AM. The first eighteen miles
of the trip was perfectly acceptable, just as rumors described
it. But the next thirty eight miles was a different story.
Imagine being trapped inside an enormous rock tumbler
and at the same time suffering an attact of St. Vitus
Dance. Throw the whole experience on a set of bad shock
obsorbers. That's the last thirty eight miles to Puertecitos.
In fairness the trip wasn't quite as bad as I had anticipated.
Of course the company probably had a lot to do with it.
Good companionship makes a difference in how you perceive
time. Einstein once said, "One hour with a pretty woman
can feel like two minutes. But a few minutes sitting on
a hot stove can feel like hours". As always, Einstein
When Cynthia and I arrived,
we made straight for the hot springs. But times are tough
in the economy of Puertecitos. We were intercpted at the
first entrance gate by a Mexican woman who announced it
would cost us $1 apiece to visit the springs.
Five minutes and two dollars
later we were sequentially dipping our toes in the three
main natural hot tubs, the three little low-tide bears.
The papa bear, we decided,
was too hot. The moma bear already had two tourists sitting
in it and their familiarity didn't invite interruption.
So we settled ourself into the baby bear, which was a
tad too shallow and cool for our liking. We suspected
mama bear was just right. A half hour later mama bear
was deserted and we made the pilgrimage. And yes, it WAS
just right. Perfectly soothing in temperature and deep
enough to bury one's woes up to the neck. Some time later
two Americans joined us. Apparently our demeanor wasn't
sufficiently intimate to deter them. They went straight
from papa bear to mama bear. For the next hour or so people
slowly trickled to the site. Cynthia and I had arrived
at the best time, just a little after low tide. Once the
pools are uncovered, the thermal jets within them slowly
heat each natural tub at different rates, depending on
their size and the number of hot jets that feed them.
So it is generally possible to find one of the five or
six pools to suit your temperature taste. But as time
passes, the pools gradually heat up and after an hour
or so, you may find yourself migrating from mama bear
to baby bear.
When the place began to feel more like a
health spa than a retreat, Cynthia and I packed up our
belongings and drove south, to Campo Costillo where I
hoped to pay a surprise visit to some friends. But except
for a rather forlorn looking dog combing through an overturned
garbage can, the camp was deserted. Not a solitary soul
present. We looked for UFO burn marks on the ground but
everything appeared normal. Lunch was prepared in the
back of the pickup truck; sandwiches made from good dark
rye bread, buttered with cream cheese and layered with
slices of cucumbers and tomatoes. The dog liked the bread
and grudgingly ate slices of tomato, but wanted nothing
to do with cucumber. He was thrilled with a package of
cookies I had brought. The trip back to San Felipe seemed
longer, if only because Cynthia and I both had mild headaches
from our overzealous use of the hot springs. And perhaps
the cumulative effects of the pogo-stick-like dance of
the truck during the entire day's activities. We arrived
in San Felipe as the sun was setting and the eastern horizon
glowed with beautiful mauve and magenta colors over a
calm, reflecting sea. It had been a good journey. Bad
road and all.