“I will do water – beautiful, blue water.” ~Claude Monet
Having been born and raised a desert rat in the beautiful Land of Enchantment, I have a great appreciation for water. Any kind of water. Swimming pools are a treat. Rain is galvanizing, of course. Springs, rivers, lakes, oceans – I try to experience them as often as possible. Hot springs, on the other hand, those I’ll go out of my way to indulge. Especially geothermal hot springs, like those found about a mile up the road, in Truth Or Consequences.
The reason is simple: healing waters. It’s one thing to ease sore muscles and relax in a Jacuzzi or hot bath. It’s something altogether different to submerge oneself in a pool of mineral-rich groundwater from deep inside the earth’s crust. There really is no feeling quite like it and the long-term effects are truly therapeutic.
Having just made the trip to the lovely Riverbend Hot Springs in T or C (the local designation for Truth Or Consequences) for the second time in as many weeks, and reaping the benefits to an astounding degree, I feel the need to expound. First however, I think a little introduction is in order. The following video is a little long, but you’ll get the picture pretty quickly.
So, yeah, if you watched the above video, you have a basic idea of what the Riverbend Hot Springs are all about. Now, the reasons I personally love ‘em. Between the ongoing dance with my dark passenger, mounting medical bills and an unexpected IRS audit that has pushed me into the dire straits category of the American dream, you could say I’m under a lot of stress. Meditation helps. As does visualizing the impenetrable bubble that keeps the outside world from crushing me. But a nice hot mineral soak? Magic!
There’s a lot of pain that goes along with all that stress. Enough to keep me from being as active as I probably should be, under the circumstances. So when one of my dearest friends – a fellow writer who’s blog Degenerate Matter is well worth checking out – ascended from Mordor to visit, and insisted we take some time to “get a soak in,” I agreed. Didn’t take much twisting of any appendage to convince me. It had been a while and I was feeling particularly creaky.
The visit was transformative. Submerging these tired, aching bones into 108 degree mineral water for 45 minutes was exactly what I needed. We luxuriated, we stretched, we relaxed and when we left, we felt like al dente noodles. The energy I felt the next day was miraculous. I actually left my cave for a full weekend of activities. Even better, three days later, minor wounds that had been taking way too long to heal were cleared up.
A week later, I insisted on returning with my husband, for another soak. I had just enjoyed the best week I’d experienced in over a year. I was upbeat and energized, the pain in my joints was well within tolerable limits and my attitude was in the sunny range. This alone was astounding. Anybody who knows me well wouldn’t argue with the admission I’m normally hovering around the curmudgeon range. Having witnessed the transformation himself, it didn’t take much appendage twisting for him either.
Now, I’m two soaks in and the world is looking a whole lot brighter. Well, inside my bubble, anyway. The fog in my mind is cleared, my appreciation for the people around me is growing, and I feel like I can accomplish anything. Is it the water? I’m going to say yes, not just because the marketing for places like Riverbend like to extol such virtues as an increase in blood circulation and the absorption of essential minerals, but because the empirical evidence I have gathered points in that direction.
Now, I know there isn’t any real scientific proof that the minerals found in geothermal hot springs have health benefits. On the other hand, the Japanese have been practicing what they call balneotherapy, or “treatment of disease by bathing,” for centuries. They believe that the minerals found in the water – to include calcium, sulfate, magnesium, iron, chloride, potassium and zinc, to name just a few – are absorbed into the body through the skin and pores. I think they’re on to something.
I’m no scientist, so I can’t really go into any details, but I did find a particularly good article, written by a layman, that sums up my experiences nicely. You can find it here, if you’re interested. All I know is, I feel great and that is a wonderful change of pace. I’d even go so far as to say I would make this “treatment” a regular thing if finances weren’t so tight. I can’t really afford to make this a weekly excursion, but I would like to make it a monthly deal, if at all possible. Anything to keep the dark uncertainties of the gut goblin at bay.
I should also mention that Riverbed Hot Springs is my personal favorite, among all of the spas and soak sites that proliferate the town of T or C, for two reasons: One, they have private tubs and two, said tubs overlook the smooth flowing waters of the Rio Grande and the mountains beyond. It isn’t enough to simply submerge oneself in the hot mineral springs, the view itself is unparalleled and, thus, preferable. Most of the other springs are located in closed off patios, or buildings.
Yes, the site does have “common pools,” and a lot of naturally gregarious people swear by those, but having tried them myself, I’d rather go private. Remember, it’s not like snagging a table in a crowded bar, which then becomes YOUR table and because of some mysterious, unwritten bar etiquette, nobody but YOUR people may join you. In a public hot spring, people WILL join you, no matter the size of the pool you are occupying. They will also compliment your girlfriend on the sheerness of her bikini top, or play footsy with your husband. It’s the nature of the beast.
The final reason why I prefer Riverbend’s private pools is because I hate wearing clothing in hot water. It makes me feel like I’m soaking in a washing machine. I don’t want anything caressing my body but the minerals in that glorious, silky wetness. Which is not nearly as dirty as it sounds. I’m there to commune with nature, soak up the minerals and do a little self-massage, not have a conversation with the lady from Wisconsin who wants to talk about her rheumatism. Y’know?
Whether or not there is any real scientific basis for this uplift is beside the point. At least as far as I’m concerned. I’ll return to the Riverbend Hot Springs as often as possible and wholeheartedly recommend them to anybody who either lives in the area, or is passing through on longer journeys. The world is such a chaotic place, isn’t it nice to know there are little oases just waiting to transport us from our tribulations and make us feel truly alive, even if only for a few hours?