In our first trip to Baja when Micah was 2 and a half and Moxie was just a little baby, we rented a car out of La Paz with our friend Abby and we drove to find Hot Springs.
We had heard that there were some outside of the small town of Santiago – and, well, you know us and hot springs, right? Like bees to honey, baby. Bees to honey.
On that trip, we wandered around and found a hot spring that was nice. It was perfect for kids – low water, divided by large stones between what was “Caliente” and what was “Frio”.
We sat together with a couple of local guys in the “Caliente” section and were startled by these little fish that were nibbling at our feet – PIRANHAS!!!!
“Fish therapy”, the locals called it, and we got a good laugh out of that.
The next year, we went to the Oasis hot springs and we loved it, but this time, we felt like going back to Ticklefish. Mostly because we thought Ticklefish would be easier with the kids and also because we remembered FREE camping there. Free camping + hot springs = unbeatable.
So we headed on over and down through Santiago.
It’s a really charming little town, perfectly delightful.
Then we went duly past the zoo, out and along the very long dusty road until we got there.
It wasn’t free. Damn. The guy at the gate was charging 50 pesos/per person for camping/day use, OUCH… but it was dusk so we didn’t have a lot of options at that point. No way were we driving at night.
We were in this tiny space, surrounded by trees and brush. Lovely.
After the big open beaches though, we got a little freaked out, feeling kind of claustrophobic. Still, it was lovely. The people in the camp site next to us were these bright eyed attractive young people who didn’t wear much on their taut and slenderbodies, and had two kids. The two kids didn’t talk that much – they just kind of silently sat there – but the bright eyed attractive parents sure made up for their kid’s lack of enthusiasm. They sang songs and played their guitar – kumbaya! – and danced ecstatically around their fire and stuff…and all that basically had the effect of making me want to crawl into our own camper, turn off my my hearing aids and call it a night. I think we watched an episode of Star Trek with a roll of cookies though.
Anyway. The next day, we trooped on over to the hot springs and were shocked to find that they had been flooded out – it was all one little lake. The neat little sections designating different water temperatures were utterly gone – it was just all one. We went out to the big rock where we remembered the “Caliente” section being and were rewarded by feeling some spurts from the source, but man, that was it!
The kids playing in the water were cool – very interested in the kids and in Pugsily. I had a thrilling “Proud Parent” moment when Micah swam right up to the big group of kids – all alone! – and started using every ounce of Spanish he could muster. One kid started teasing him, “Micah/Jamaica!” and Micah just shrugged and kept on at it, trying to make friends. It was that weird moment that perhaps every parent experiences? Where you SO FRICKING PROUD of your kid for having the guts to go up to a group of kids and just START TALKING IN THEIR LANGUAGE, and then feeling my heart in my throat as he gets teased and feeling torn between busting in, all mama-bull, and letting it work itself out. OH GOD, WHAT DO I DO NOW????
I let them work it out, it ended up being just fine – it usually is, isn’t it? And my pride in Micah just about shot me off onto a nearby cloud where I could spot some unicorns hanging out.
After a while, it didn’t seem to make sense to continue to hang out there. The kids were tired, the hot springs weren’t hot and the camping site wasn’t free… so we thought we ought to just split and find a beach.
And well, that’s exactly what we did.
Ticklefish Hot Springs: “Chorro” – it’s completely inaccessible. You need to walk over lots of large rocks to get to the pool area. The campsites are clean and tidy. Pit toilets are available, up a small hill and a short flight of stairs. It costs 50 pesos/person for camping and day use of the pool.