It was an even earlier start today but at least it was only half a day of walking to reach the camp, although that was still 6 hours. For once, I was amongst the faster ones as I was feeling a lot better and, at one point, I was walking on my own, which was most welcome, as the fast ones were ahead and the slower ones way behind. I also did not have to listen to all the chatter from one or two very talkative members of the group.
We followed the river valley all the way down through cloud forest and, whilst it was much more of an undulating walk, it was still quite hard after the exertion of the last two days. We stopped a number of times for breaks and for everyone to reassemble before moving on again. Everyone was walking today and, as we were also feeling the effects of yesterday, it was quite slow. We were all very glad to reach the campsite at about 1.30pm.
After another good lunch, we had about half an hour of free time, which some of the boys used to play soccer with the porters. Then, we were transported to the hot springs at Santa Teresa, which was about 45 minutes drive away along a bumpy road with one or two sheer drops very close to the wheels of the minivan! We were all crammed in to the vehicle with Lisa sitting on the floor as there weren’t enough seats. Luckily, she purported to love it.
The hot pools are probably the best hot pools I have visited, although maybe that was because the warm water was so welcome to my aching muscles. They had a very unprepossessing entrance, blended in well with the surroundings, had extremely clear water, with stones on the bottom of the pools and were the perfect temperature. Naturally, they were being well used by a number of trekking groups but there was still space for everyone.
We soaked in them for nearly 2 hours before getting dressed and adjourning to the bar for a beer, which we were encouraged to purchase from one particular lady, who was the owner of our camp site. Typically, there were a number of lady vendors, with their buckets of ice and drinks, around the pool. We left to return to the campsite just after 6pm and the journey back, in the dark, was almost as interesting, particularly when we met a truck on the narrow road, and neither driver was keen to give way!
Mark and John, who had not come to the pools, were waiting in the camp when we arrived. Happy hour, as usual, was followed by dinner. Afterwards, Erik produced a bottle of rum to accompany the hot, freshly brewed, fruit drink and cake that the cooks had somehow magically baked in their very cramped and basic conditions. The hot toddy was most welcome and varying amounts of rum were added to each person’s cup. Some were exceedingly generous and, as one or two people had already had a couple of beers, there were soon some very merry campers. I decided one was enough as I was desperate for bed (must really be getting old!) but one or two of the others continued well into the night!