In the late afternoon, we visited the mineral springs. The sun was lower now, but it was even hotter than earlier. Anything involving water sounded a good idea.
The ancient water wells from the depths of the earth, having leached upwards through volcanic rock for 450 million years to emerge as clear and clean as this morning's dew. It has health-giving properties. It's one of the purest mineral waters on earth.
The water comes out at metal taps built into a series of rockfaces scattered along a kind of linear sunken garden alongside a watercourse. You can follow the path and taste the water at each of the taps.
The taps curve downwards elegantly, like the beaks of Kiwis. You press a pump and the water flows. It does so with a gentle hiss, like a soft sigh from the deep. The water you don't drink or catch drips through a grate and into a drain that leads to the garden. That's why the picnic lawn was so lush. Ironic, I thought to myself, pardoning the pun, You can't water your garden because of water restrictions, yet here's the purest mineral water in the world growing a lawn. Maybe I should pour Evian on my garden.
William stood on the grate and I showed him how to pump. He kind of got it, but I had to help. I spattered some of the zingy water onto his tongue and he laughed. I laughed too. A seventeen month old baby being splashed with 450 million year old water, like a baptism.
Then I drank some of the water. I tried to decide what it tasted of. I thought of metal, of deep earth, of volcanic fire, of prehistoric iron, of ancient civilisations, of nations rising and falling and the earth revolving a trillion times around the sun. The water was tepid and had a kind of electricity-charged tang that I had never tasted before.
There was a man from the tour bus at the next tap. He took a draught. 'Tastes like pond water that fifty horses have been swimming in,' he said and spat it out.
Some people have no imagination and some people have too much. I stood there and watched him walk away and wondered which of us was which.