Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Hot Pools of El Eden

Shot from the hot pools of El Eden at sunset.
There's a beautiful hot pool spot hidden in the mountains near Huamachuco called El Eden. Generally, it's only known to the locals; so, the location doesn't appear in guidebooks. I only found out through the receptionist at my hotel.

The pools are actually carved into the mountains, and streams of hot water cascade into these pools and then flow out of them to the bottom of the river of the canyon. I stayed one day, but loved it so much I rented a room there for 25 soles ($8 USD) a night for two extra nights. (The only problem there is that you're in the middle of nowhere, except they do have electricity, but no internet.)

Me in the hot pools of El Eden
Over the last few weeks, I've definitely
developed a relationship with the hot pools of the Andes. And I can say that the soreness in my legs from hiking to the ruins of Marcahuamachuco (Read about it here: Ruins of Marcahuamachuco) disappeared. Also, the soreness in my shoulders relieved when I was in the hot pools of Yuanguat.

It's really got me thinking how these hot, mineral waters work. For ages, ancient people have known that special hot pools cure sickness. There are even two instances, I know of, in Scripture - where bathing in water relieved people's sickness.

In the Old Testament, there once was a Syrian general named Naaman, who was plagued with leprosy - a horrible disease of the skin. Elisha wouldn't even come out to meet the general, but through his servant - Elisha told Naaman he had to bathe in the Jordan River seven times to be cleansed and purified.

At first, the General thought the directions nutty and wanted to leave. But Naaman's servant convinced him otherwise, and he bathed seven times, and his skin was as pure and smooth as a baby's. (I wonder how much of a reward that servant later received.) So happy was the general, he wanted to give the prophet a mountain of wealth - which Elisha refused. Instead, Elisha's servant took it and became diseased. (Some say Elisha's servant was the first of the albinos.)

In the second instance, in the New Testament, according to the Gospel of John, Jesus heals a blind man, by sending him to wash off the mud he put in the blind man's eyes at the Pools of Silom - which were allegedly outside of Jerusalem. I don't think it's a coincidence that like Elisha - Jesus has to heal in a similar manner as one of the ancient prophets. After the blind man washed off the mud, he could see again.

I've been thinking about these stories a lot and haven't really come to any hard conclusions. Except - I think both of the stories say that healing requires humility and faith, and perhaps the two are related.

In the case of Naaman, the general must have been irritated that the prophet didn't even greet him or his entourage when he visited with wealth. Naaman even brought a letter from the Syrian King to let the Hebrew people know how important this was to the Syrian nation.

And even then, Naaman doesn't want to bathe in the Jordan River because he says that the water is inferior to his. And when he bathes, he has to do it seven times. We don't know if his skin got better each time, or if everything cleared up after the whole process. I'm sure, after bathing the first few times though, he was grumbling to himself how silly the process was.

And regarding the blind man, John tells us this guy was blind all his life. Imagine fearing how people would laugh at you, after you washed yourself and you still were blind after it. I'm sure that fear lingered in him, while going through the cleansing process.

Besides humility, both stories also stress faith. And I'm not talking necessarily about a blind kind of faith. Both of the afflicted believed that they could be healed. They didn't give up. (Perhaps in doing so, they implicitly believed in a God and a good God, who had a solution for them.) Even though there was no known solution for their illness, they believed that one existed. Otherwise, both of them wouldn't have tried.

Finally, both Elisha and Jesus stress that one needs to bathe in a specific region. In other words, there's something special in the water that these two bathed in.

Regarding the hot pools I found, after battles, the Incan warriors also bathed in the pools because they knew it healed wounds. So, I'm confused as to how and why these pools work.

(Just an interesting FYI, according to DC Comics, even Batman's villan - Ra's al Ghul (Arabaic for Demon's Head) finds some ancient and special pools that keep him eternally young.)

It's a mystery to me how these waters heal. I'll have to think more, though, about how faith and humility gives one purity (evidenced by Naaman's skin) and vision (evidenced by the blind man's restored sight). And does purity lead to insight? 

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