Monday, October 13, 2008

a whole lot of hot air

Over the weekend we stayed and played in Xela. Saturday was a gorgeous day with lots of sun and absolutely no rain! For awhile now we have been curious about the hillside right above Parque Central. There is a church on top of the hill with a Hollywood style sign above it that reads “Cristo Viene” (Christ is coming). We had heard about vapor caves and a restaurant up there as well, so after lunch we took off on our first real adventure without a guide – just a few directions from Gato, Ben’s teacher, and a brief description in Lonely Planet. It wasn’t quite as easy as we expected (the hike was ridiculously steep), but definitely a great escape from the noise and exhaust of the city.

Along the way we stopped a few times to take in the view and ask the friendly locals for directions. We encountered a few obstacles too. First there was the house with a pack of dogs - the guy here said it was 30 more minutes. After a wrong turn, we were redirected by a family harvesting onions. Back on track, but now there was an empty truck blocking the path……and after the truck, there was a cow blocking the path. Next there was house with a swarm of bees – this guy said 30 minutes too! A little further down the road we ran into some water delivery guys who offered us a drink of soda – they said 20 more minutes...or we could ride back to town with them! We carried on. Then we took a break near a plot a land where cabbage was growing so our friend Roger could catch up with us. Past some giant eucalyptus trees, and we finally arrived at Los Vahos!

Build around natural steam vents, Los Vahos is a steam room, heated by the activity of a volcano. It isn’t very fancy, just 2 little rooms, some eucalyptus leaves, plastic stools, and a lot of steam. We stayed in for about 10 minutes before taking a break and then went back in for another 10 minutes or so. Even though we weren’t in there long, it sure cleared out all the crap from our systems! The hike back out was much more refreshing than on the way there. There were some sights back down the hill as well – dogs digging in trash, kids throwing a deflated football, a group of guys playing soccer, and some kids who wanted there pictures taken (and then begged for Q1).

Before heading back into the city we swung by Panorama, a Swiss restaurant with lots of good cheese and fondue, to watch the sunset and have a snack. The perfect end to a beautiful day.

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