August 25, 2007
When I left my hotel this morning, the city of Cajamarca looked like any other city in Peru with lots of hustle and bustle, but little to draw my attention, so I decided to check out somewhere else for the day. I took a bus to the next town called Baños del Inca and was immediately impressed. It was only fifteen minutes from the center of Cajamarca, yet here was a small, clean, and quiet town that would be a quaint place to visit even without its main attraction, the hot springs.
When I arrived at the hot springs, the guy at the information desk recommended bathing in the Imperiales room, which was the biggest one available. I took him up on the offer and bought my ticket. Walking into the hot springs grounds was like stepping back in time. The steam-filled air that surrounded me, the people walking around in robes, the quiet atmosphere, and the flower gardens made me feel like I was in ancient Rome about to embark on an act of hedonism.
Soon I was lead into the imperial room, which, unlike most hot springs in Peru, was a private chamber. There was a large tub the size of a Jacuzzi that had just been emptied and cleaned. I turned a lever to release the flow of practically boiling water, stripped naked, and eased my way in. The therapeutic experience made me forget all my troubles. Before long, the hot water became unbearable and I had to put some cold water in the tub for balance. I left the imperial room sweaty, but relaxed from head to toe.
When my sweating subsided, I took a walk around the park grounds. There were several large pools of water bubbling straight from the earth that were said to be between seventy-one and seventy-eight degrees Celsius, many rooms with private baths, a half-sized Olympic swimming pool, massage parlors, and even bungalows that could sleep four people with twenty-four hour access to the hot springs for $60. Still, my price of $2 for the imperial room and the bus fare from and to the city was well worth the hassle.