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As we ride towards the hot springs, in the morning, I start to feel unwell. I have been carrying some stomach bugs, probably giardia, with me from somewhere in the States. The only symptom so far has been a rather anti-social episode of farting when I was in Silver City but now I suddenly feel nauseous, faint and weak – not an ideal condition for negotiating tough roads. I am grateful when we finally arrive at our destination.

The springs are something of a disappointment, however. When we arrive we are confronted with a family group is sitting on the ground, next to some abandoned huts, graffiti covered and windowless. The family’s laundry is spread out to dry on bushes and trees, they have clearly been capitalising on the availability of running hot water.

We dip our fingers in the pools, ignoring the rubbish strewn about them, and decide that the water is probably tolerably warm. A little further exploration downstream reveals a magic waterfall tumbling into a warm rock pool. All in all, our feelings are mixed but after the effort exerted to get here there is no question of not spending the night here.

The pools are, unfortunately, surrounded by all manner of refuse.

The pools are, unfortunately, surrounded by all manner of refuse.

These buildings were probably intended for a tourist trade that never eventuated.

These buildings were probably intended for a tourist trade that never eventuated.

A river, warm as bath water, tumbling over rocks.

The place nevertheless contains some magic: a steaming waterfall in a hidden grotto where the river, warm as bath water, tumbles over rocks down the canyon.

We set up camp and I, still feeling sick, collapse in a heap on the ground for a good part of the day. However, by evening all of us have spent at least some time in the warm pool. I feel somewhat daunted by the prospect of retracing our path over rough roads back to the highway the next day.

In the morning, while Jeff and Jason are still soaking in the pool, I set off early into a strong icy wind,  knowing that I will be slower than the guys.

The spring is not super hot but it is a far better temperature than Recowata Spring, near Creel.

Jeff and Jason in the pool. The spring is not super hot but it is a far better temperature than Recowata Springs, near Creel.

Cass catches up to me as I leave the canyon and we ride together for a while but when some pick-up trucks pass us, still feeling below par, I succumb to temptation and flag one down to beg a lift to the highway. The occupants of the truck are happy to oblige and load my bike into the tray where I sit next to it to secure it as we travel over the bumps and potholes.

Pig wandering across the field.

Pig wandering across the field.

About 20 kilometres later, I am deposited on the highway at Bacariachi, a small village, a few miles from the turn-off we took two days before. The icy wind is still blowing strong and I try to find somewhere sheltered to wait for the guys to join me.

Information that might have come in handy a little earlier.

A sign indicating the distance to the hot spring: information that might have come in handy a little earlier. A 40 kilometres side trip is not one taken lightly.

I find a bench outside a building, fronting the highway, which is slightly sheltered by a wall, and sit down to eat some lunch. I have barely opened my food pannier when the door opens and a lady ushers me inside to eat. My benefactor offers me hot coffee while I make myself avocado burritos and I spend the next two or three hours sitting in this unexpected refuge waiting.

A refuge from the howling, icy gale outside.

A refuge from the howling, icy gale outside.

This woman turns out to be a kindly soul who provides me with a warm place to sit and cups of coffee while I wait for the guys.

This woman is a kindly soul who provides me with a warm place to sit and cups of coffee while I wait for the guys.

An injured chick also finds refuge in her kitchen.

An injured chick also finds refuge in her kitchen.

When the guys finally arrive around 4 o’clock, we set off together down the highway and are treated to a long descent through glorious country-side into the township of Belleza, where we stop at dusk to restock our food panniers and then camp just out of town, next to the highway, in a little dry wash.

Twenty five kilometres of downhill riding through stunning country side is an unexpected gift.

Twenty five kilometres of downhill riding through stunning country side is an unexpected gift.

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