La Gruta | Mexico | Living in Mexico

La Gruta

The weather is heatin' up pretty good. It's going to break 90º today. About time, too. It's the third week of February already. Time to think about cooling off.

Strung out along the Delores Highway are a number of warm springs that have been developed into resorts. La Gruta (The Grotto) is arguably the best of them. It's a great place to go for lunch and a swim and maybe a siesta in the shade of a palm tree.

Warm waters from deep underground fill a series of pools. Since these are springs, the water is changed frequently, so there is no need for chlorine. Grandma can play in the water without worrying that she might be exposing her granddaughter to powerful oxidants.


The various pools are surrounded by tropical gardens planted atop stone-walled terraces. Chairs and umbrellas dot grassy lawns. A modest restaurant provides food—and piña coladas. Yesterday we spent a relaxing afternoon here in the warm winter sunshine.


In the middle of the week, La Gruta is uncrowded, peaceful. An old man floats in the water, sound asleep. He really knows how to relax.


One feature of this resort is a tunnel that leads to a domed room. My friend Paul Latoures reacts with disappointment to a sign telling him he can't smoke while in the tunnel. In the pool it's OK, Paul. In the tunnel—well, sorry.


Intrepid Paul enters the tunnel leading away into the darkness.

(I've noticed that Mexicans often whitewash stone walls. And tree trunks. They're really into painting natural objects—another cultural mystery.)


The darkness grows. A room appears out of the gloom, the roof supported by a strangely lit column.


The temperature and humidity rises. The lens fogs up. My glasses fog up. I can't see what's ahead. I snap off a photo. Light pours in from a hole in the roof. I decide to retreat to save my camera from the dampness.


Turning around to make my way back, I see light at the end of the tunnel. Banana trees are a welcome sight.


Back outside, people are playing in the sun. I feel reborn. Why did they build this tunnel? It's not really all that pleasant.

Paul tells me that years ago, on night visits, he would hear moaning from the tunnel. Could it have been ghosts? Probably not. There's a more pedestrian explanation, don't you think?


There's a lot of old hippies living in San Miguel. Apparently some are still embracing the free living of the '60s, because the management found it necessary to erect this sign.


Yep. "Every person should use a bathing suit." You sure wouldn't need to say that in Sun CIty, would you?