Why would anyone want to spend two hours being par-boiled in an extremely hot bath in an extremely hot and humid tropical country?
Our hotel on this leg of our tour of Costa Rica, the delightful Volcano Lodge and Springs, had its own volcanic hot springs in its extensive grounds. However, following a fun-filled morning of river rafting we were driven a short distance up the road from the hotel to spend the afternoon and evening at the Eco Termales Hot Springs.
We assumed they offered something different to the hotel's own springs: possibly more wild and natural like the hot springs that bubble up into the sea at the greek island of Santorini; or maybe massages and mud treatments. Instead, after a short walk from the changing rooms through a wooded area along an asphalt path (not pleasant on bare feet) we found several smallish lined pools of differing temperatures, a couple of waterfalls; sun loungers and a bar. It was 4.00 pm and we were booked in for a two hour session followed by an early evening dinner in their restaurant.
We had not been given any induction or information about the pools or the nature of the water and discovered for ourselves that they became increasingly hotter as you drew closer to the main waterfall. I clambered over into a small deep pool within the medium hot pool thinking it might be some sort of jacuzzi. It was not and found it incredibly hard to scramble out again without scraping my arms and legs on the rough stone surrounds. My partner who had been watching witheringly from a sun bed, stepped in the nearest pool, submerged, and stepped out again, singularly unimpressed.
After half an hour of moving through the pools, (you couldn't possibly swim: far too hot and not enough space), and cooling off in the freezing cold plunge pool, I had had enough: the heat was making me irritable, my skin was puffed and wrinkled so I went to get changed. The cold showers in the changing rooms were most unpleasant. I had hoped to wash my hair, which had been transformed into a mad frizz by steam and sweat, but decided against it, especially as there was a queue of women in the area outside the cubicles complaining loudly at having to wait to get changed. I emerged half dressed to free up a cubicle whilst I finished getting ready on the benches, only to find a young boy – about 8 or 9 – eyeing me suspiciously as he sat waiting there for his mother.
It was a relief to get out and enjoy some cold beers whilst waiting for our meal in Eco Termales' barn-like restaurant/cafeteria. which was pleasant enough: more chicken, rice and beans! We wondered what might have been on offer back at our hotel.
I am sure this might have been a lovely experience for tourists whose hotels did not have identical facilities, and I could imagine it would have been lovely to drop into our own hotel's own hot springs for half an hour at the end of a tiring day of sight seeing, before dinner at the hotel. I could not, however, see any rationale for driving us a short distance away from our hotel to another set of springs and restaurant.