“I’ll bet you a 20 you can’t make it to the end of the pool.”
“Done!” I exclaimed.
Quite confidently at that. The source of my confidence was three-fold. Firstly my spirit was fuelled by Moza, a local brew that I’d taken down like apple juice since it was a refreshing change in taste from the Brahva* I’d sampled the day prior. Second, came the fact that 20 Quetzales was barely equivalent to a couple of dollars. And lastly, even if I had to burn myself in doing so, this was most certainly one of those moments in life where I had to suck it up, and ‘mind-over-matter’ my way to the end of the thermal-pool! Else, (read: being the semi-neurotic sort that I am), I’d probably regret this moment for days, months, and years to come.
As it so happens, I didn’t make it to the end of the pool that night, the water was scorching and I was clearly not inebriated enough. But in all honesty, I didn’t care. I was in Guatemala with a few handfuls of friends on a field trip, and it was, for lack of a better word, awesome. The aforementioned sweltering water was one of a handful of sulphur hot water pools in Las Fuentes Georginas, Guatemala.
Tucked away in the mountains of Quetzeltanengo, Las Fuentes Georginas is an idyllic holiday destination, not to mention a feature of geothermal significance. Powered by, and sourced from thermal energy from the Zunil volcano, and condensation at exposed steam vents, the Fuentes Georginas lodge lies amidst an almost sublime cloud forest that contrasts markedly with the turquoise waters. The complex, which has been rebuilt to its current prime, following the destruction which accompanied Hurricane Stan (2005), and Tropical Storm Agatha (2010), is an exemplary location for a retreat from today’s world. And like most retreats, it is secluded, and a challenge to reach – in my case, this involved being driven along an unlit, pitch-black stretch of road on the edge of a mountain. You know, the sort of roads you see in those ‘Deadliest Road’-type shows, which seem fine until you see the steep drops to their sides in daylight! Thankfully, the nighttime ‘ride of doom’ was more than compensated for with a splendid dinner at the lodge’s restaurant, and beers at the bar, followed by the bet I’d mentioned earlier.
The conditions of the bet, I might add, were fulfilled the next night, alongside an evening of star gazing, and a burp from a close by volcano, Santa Maria. Mind you, the aforementioned ‘burp’ was nothing extravagant, just a puff of ash and smoke. It was also, as it happens, the night of an earthquake — something I’d not only slept through, but convinced my friend Cat who I was sharing a room with, that she was dreaming and should go back to sleep when she mumbled something along the lines of ‘I think it’s an earthquake’ calmly (Sorry, Cat!)
Anyhow, as far as the scorching sulphur pools go (since I’m obviously an expert now), my recommendation is to work one’s way up to the hottest pool – unless you’re one of those ‘dive in the deep end’ sort of people, in which case, go ahead throwing caution to the wind and potentially burning your patellas. (I exaggerate naturally- you won’t burn, but if you have any open cuts prepare for some ‘ouching’ – yes, sadly I speak from experience).
Visiting in February with temperature highs and lows of 20C and 5C respectively, had two perks– the need for an ever-present ‘beer jacket’, and warm fires in the cabin before bed. Nonetheless, little else compares to the clouds descending upon you in the evening as the skies take on rosy hue at sunset, or the lopsided tree that peeks over the canopy as the haze flattens over the greenery in the wee hours of the morning. My time at Fuentes Georginas, and my trip to Guatemala was by far one of the most memorable ones I’ve been on thus far, and even if you’re not a fan of scorching sulphur pools – the starlit skies, awe-inspiring views.
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