El Poto del Mondo
Of all the most exotic spas I’ve ever been to – a “hotspring” zen monastery in California, marble Italian baths for those afflicted with gout – one image will always remain engraved in my mind: that of the Puyuhuapi spa in Patagonia. I can say that I went all the way to the other side of the world, just to bathe in those thermal waters heated by 40°C to 50°C volcanic chambers. Seventeen hours on a plane, two and a half hours on a bus, and five hours on a catamaran to finally wake up in a part of Chile called “el poto del mondo”, the butt of the world.
The purpose of my trip there was to try watsu, water shiatsu, an aquatic massage that washes your stress away to the South Pole and makes you forget the length of the journey and the insanity of the itinerary. In this place worthy of the National Geographic and the TV show Thalassa, one can find mirror lakes and snowy mountains, fjords, the pampas, tundra and the Andes Mountains. Ecotourists are still rarely seen and see-doo amateurs are largely absent in this area. Peace and quiet are this way.
Why go so far to close your eyes and enjoy a hot bath under the starry sky of Patagonia? Those generous firmaments host constellations with evocative names like the Southern Cross, toucan, paradise bird, the Southern Crown… Here, there is no light pollution, no pollution at all, only the side effects of global warming, the melting of glaciers.
But the real reason is escapism. And the feeling of coming to let go of everything and get rid of your knots. Here, nature acts on our look, our vision, our ability to surrender. We are filled with a strange feeling of purity and virginity.
Just like a “born-again virgin”, I was “re-born” in Puyuhuapi. There I left a girl from the last century. Once back home, I realized that water, regardless of how it spins down the drain, can wash everything away.
I will never go back to Puyuhuapi; of that, I am firmly convinced. But every time I go to the spa, I spare a little thought for this place that lies within me: pure, sleek, silent, and infinite.
Freelance journalist, lecturer, and columnist at newspaper Le Devoir