Bless you hot water, for you are divine. The bathing Romans knew it. The Hungarians, South Koreans and Germans joined in. Hell, even babies agree: Lazing in hot water is blissful. While talking with a friend recently about the fact that having a therapist in Chile and Argentina is incredibly common, and not at all hidden amongst friends, I began to wonder what would happen to patient numbers if visits to thermal baths were prescribed instead of medication. While I was contemplating the sea of blissed out ex-patients that would surely eventuate from such a prescription, my friend mentioned that in general people weren’t looking for medication, but rather that someone be there to act as a “recipient for all their crap”. Curiously, this brought my mind straight back to thermal baths – and specifically to one I’d visited in Peru. One that resembled, at first glance, exactly such a recipient.
Thermales Monterrey lie a short bus ride out of Huaraz. After hearing about their existence, my hyperactive mind started having all sorts of visions of their crystal waters being in a forest grove, not far from a waterfall where pixies danced for your entertainment and Peruvian guinea pigs dressed as waiters brought you cool drinks. But sadly, this was not to be the case.
Newly arrived, we were offered a bathtub-sized private room which we declined, surmising that:
A) waaaaaaaaaaay too many sexy times would have been had in those rooms, and
B) in any case, it would just be much too much of an awkward, Twister-reminiscent puzzle to fit the five of us in.
(We were especially happy with our choice after seeing the rooms and noting how the fixtures had long since been flirting with a nice layer of rust.)
So off we went to the main pool…a pool whose waters were poo brown in colour. I think if it hadn’t been for the locals in the water already busy with their family swimming races we might have called it quits at that point. But instead we hopped in and nervously threaded water while watching the mini Olympics before us. Later (still treading water, though now slightly less nervously) we saw how the brown sediment swirled near the surface and perspective made it seem to thicken in the depths, causing our hands to disappear from view even when hardly submerged.
Happily, it was the water’s dense mineral content that made it look from afar as if an army of babies had shat in it. But seriously, never have the minerals ever-present in thermal baths been so visual.
Next time I want a fluro yellow pool please, Mr Universe.
- A collectivo leaves from Huaraz’s main bridge for Thermales Monterrey and costs one sol. Taxis will be around 10-15 soles.
- Entry is 3.50 soles and the baths are open until 17.30.