Today is the feast day of "Nuestra Señora de los Remedios" or "Our Lady of the Cures". La "Virgen de los Remedios" or "Virgin of the Cures" was the Virgin venerated by Hernán Cortes and his Spanish Conquistadores. I guess it is in the spirit of the day that I write about "taking the cure" yesterday at the hot springs near the City of Silao (see-LAU) which is not far from Irapuato (ee-rah-PUAH-toh). The last few days I had awoken with a kink in my lower back and finally I said to my wife, Gina", "Necesito ir a Aguas Buenas para sanar" ("I need to go to Aguas Buenas to get healed.") and she said "Bueno, ya vámanos." ("Okay then, let's go").
The City of Silao is located at the base of a mountain called Mount Cubilete which is the gateway to the Sierra de Guanajuato (gwan-ah-HWAH-toh) mountains. The word "Cubilete" (koo-bee-LEH-tay) means "tumbler" as in the little cup used to throw dice. The Rio Guanajuato runs along the base of Mt. Cubilete and up a ravine that leads to the cities of Marfíl (mahr-FEEL) and Guanajuato and the heights of Santa Rosa. There is a road that goes to the summit of Mt. Cubilete atop of which is a chapel and a 67 foot statue of Christ the King. About halfway up the mountain there is a community of about 700 souls called "Aguas Buenas". If you continue through Aguas Buenas you come to another little place called "Baños de Aguas Buenas" just below the beautiful church of Santa María Reina de los Mártires where the relics of the Mexican Martyrs of San Joaquin are kept. In this place you will find a "balneario". A "balneario can be anything from a "spa" to a place for family picnics but is usually associated with water in some way even if it is nothing more than a splash pool (chapoteadero). In the case of the Balneario de los Baños de Aguas Buenas it is associated with hot spring baths.
I could not think of a better name for El Balneario de los Baños de Aguas Buenas (The Good Waters Baths Spa) even if I tried. It is one of the most relaxing places that I have ever been. It is built on the ruins of a 16th century hacienda and it seems like time just stands still there. One of the prominent features left over from the hacienda is the capilla (chapel). It is about the same size and shape as the Capilla de la Cruz ( at "El Chorro") in San Miguel de Allende that was built in 1554 and it has the same type of high round sunken window. Unfortunately these days the old chapel at the balneario is used for a storeroom or something. To say the least the balneario is an eclectic place but that is one of its charms. There is a wading pool for the smaller kids and a swimming pool with a water slide for the older kids. The feature that I like the best is the bathing rooms. They each contain a big sunken tub and not much else besides a bench, a chair, a mirror, and some hooks to hang your clothes on. The balneario entrance fee of 50 pesos (25 for children) allows you an hour's soak in the tub. The natural hot water comes out of the tap at 110 degrees Fahrenheit which is just right. You can soap up and rinse off as much as you like. By the time I come out of a good soak in the tub I am squeaky clean, wrinkled as a prune, and as flexible as a rubber chicken.
After the bath it is nice to sit and listen to the music and watch the children play in the splash pool. Just outside the balneario there are women selling elotes (corn on the cob), tacos, fruits of all kinds, and other tempting delights. Just the smell of burning mesquite wood from their cooking fires will make you hungry and there is nothing better than kicking back with a snack after your bath. Whenever I feel wound up tight I head for a place like Aguas Buenas and take the cure. I try to do it at least once a month.
I will end this with a saying that the Mexican mothers use with their children when the children get a bump or bruise. I always think of this phrase when I go to "take the cure":
Sana, sana, colita de rana,
Si no sanas hoy sanarás mañana.
Heal, heal, little frog tail (tadpole)
If you don't heal today you will heal tomorrow.
Try it. It works like magic!
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