It’s Getting Hot in Here
By Steve Mullaney
(Editor’s note: It has come to our attention that some of the information below is now outdated. Specifically, much of the complex was destroyed by recent landslides. So please ask around before undertaking the below adventure, unless you want a real adventure in trying to arrive there).
We all know about Fuentes Georginas, the foggy, mystical hot spring located in Zunil. But, with the price increase from Q25 to Q50 you may decide that you’d like to invest in beer instead of the “reconstruction of the bungalows” which is taking place there. Is there a place that you could go that is cheaper?
Yes. Hot water soakers take note – Aguas Amargas is a reasonably-priced (Q15-20) hot spring located not too far down the road from Georginas, which offers a larger number of services—though it is significantly less mystical. If you are going to be a Xela complete-ist, it’s highly recommended that you try and make it to both springs—they’re each their own thing and are definitely worth the trek out there.
Aguas Amargas offers a number of options that are not at Fuentes Georginas: there’s a papi soccer field (bring your own ball and don’t kick it over the fence), ample room for cookouts and picnics, a reasonably priced snack stand and a large communal swimming pool. The swimming pool is filled with reasonably warmish water.
The actual hot springs are a series of rooms that are private. An attendant turns on a spigot and some of the hottest water you’ve ever felt pours into the room. You then take buckets of cold water that you mix with the hot until you find the temperature that you are looking for. Do not jump into this water right away, you will get burnt.
One word of caution: if you are an easy fainter (like my travel companion) make sure that you drink plenty of water and don’t go in alone. My friend half-fainted after standing up. The rooms are enclosed by a roof and walls, so there’s nobody who can see you. That also produces a less than stunning view (inside of a concrete room! Hooray!), but the view from outside of Aguas Amargas more than makes up for it.
The fastest and easiest way to make it to Aguas Amargas will always be via one of the fine tour companies that you find within the magazine, however, it’s also possible to arrive via public transportation. You will need to take a bus, then a pick-up truck. Option one is to take the bus to Zunil and then ask the pick-up truck to go to Aguas Amargas. Option two is to get on a bus headed to Retalhuleu (a.k.a. Reu) and then get off at the Aguas Amargas stop near the big tunnel.
(A note on this column: Even though Steve has left Guatemala, he pledged to write a last column with all the dirt that- for his own safety- he couldn’t disclose while he lived here. But it looks like the Brazilian Caipirinhas got to him. So some long time readers may recognize the above.)