The only thing better than an infinity pool might, perhaps, be a natural infinity pool.
Who knew they existed? And in Mexico?
I sure didn’t until this past weekend, when I visited Hierve El Agua. Although it’s famous for its petrified waterfall, I found the natural pools to far more enticing. (I’ve never been much of a rock person.)
Whether you’re into pools or petrification or piñas locas — hollowed out pineapples filled with mezcal, um yes please — it’s worth a visit.
We traveled from Oaxaca to Mitla and Hierve El Agua to celebrate my boyfriend Tyler’s birthday. (He just turned 28. He’s a baby.)
After a shockingly hassle-free hourlong bus ride, we arrived in Mitla. We checked into our Mexican motel. It cost $12/night, and looked it.
When will I learn to not book the cheapest possible option, you ask? Never. My frugality runs thick through my Jewish veins, and nothing will ever overcome it.
Feeling no need to hang out in our bizarrely decorated room, we caught a truck to the Hierve El Agua.
Earlier, when I’d told Tyler it was an hour away, he said, “But it’s only 14km.” Didn’t think 14km could take that long? Well then you’ve never been on a bumpy Mexican mountain pass.
We trundled along in a pickup truck from my grandfather’s era, crossing fingers we’d make it over — and toes we wouldn’t go over the edge.
When we finally made it, Tyler was (shocker, shocker) hungry, so we ate one of the little food stands outside the park. They all serve memelitas and quesadillas for a few dollars each.
We paid our 50 pesos ($2.50) to get in, and walked down a small path. What awaited us was pretty spectacular: a collection of turquoise pools on the edge of a cliff.
During our wonderfully relaxing afternoon, we soaked, we read, we watched an ant complete a long journey across the water. It was pretty empty on a Thursday, but I’ve heard weekends can get pretty nutty.
Bring hiking shoes, so you can take the hourlong sendero pietonal, a trail that winds around the property. And then finish up your day with one of the aforementioned piñas locas.
Before departing on our trip, one of my friends told me: “I don’t know anyone who’s stayed in Mitla overnight before.”
Anndddd, after spending an evening there, I think I know why. Unlike Oaxaca City, there’s not a whole lot to do. Literally the highlight of our night was watching a riveting (seriously) women’s basketball game that had an ending much like the recent Super Bowl.
If you’re seeking more pizzazz, the town does have an annual festival called the “Fiesta de San Pablo Apóstol” that runs from late January through early February. Supposedly, it has dancing, bull riding, and lots of food.
The next morning, we meandered up to the ruins, an easy 10-minute walk from the center of town. They’re open every day from 8 am to 5 pm and cost 50 pesos to enter.
The buildings were used by Zapotec and Mixtec people and date back to 200-900 AD. Though not as impressive at Monte Alban, I liked them because of their intricate geometrical designs.
Tyler pointed out that a lot of my favorite clothing features similar patterns — and that I must’ve been a Zapotec in a past life.
All I’ll say is I’m definitely the right height!
How to Get From Oaxaca to Mitla and Hierve el Agua
We caught the bus to Mitla from right outside the Chedraui La Noria. If you’re staying in the northern part of town, you can catch the bus at the baseball stadium. It’ll say MITLA in big letters in the window.
The ride cost 20 pesos ($1) and took about an hour.
From where it drops you off in Mitla, you can immediately catch a camioneta (truck) to the Hierve el Agua (50 pesos/$2.50 each way). The trucks leave when they’re full — and I mean really full.
Where to Stay in Mitla
Hotel Don Cenobio: This is definitely the most popular place to stay — probably because it’s the only hotel with any semblance of an internet presence. It looked nice, but at $45/night, seems quite overpriced for this part of Mexico.
Hotel & Restaurant Mitla: 350 pesos per night ($17). Rooms are simple, with a private bathroom, and it’s literally next door to Hotel Don Cenobio. The owner Gloria seems super nice and eager to please. We also ate a decent breakfast there for around $2 each.
Hotel & Restaurant La Zapoteca: 250 pesos per night ($12.50). This is where we stayed: the cheapest of the bunch. That being said, the rooms were extraordinarily bare bones, and we had to battle a spider and several mosquitoes (the windows didn’t close), so I’d recommend staying at Hotel Mitla instead.
Cabanas at Hierve el Agua: 140 pesos per person per night ($7). I didn’t get to take a look at them, but my guidebook said they were basic and clean. My only concern is what you’d do after dark — I think the whole area pretty much shuts down with the park at 6 pm. I’m glad we stayed in Mitla, where we could at least walk around in the evening.