Lithia, FL – A secret hidden from the world is seated along the Alafia River in Lithia, Florida, although not really a secret to Hmong people. In this small quiet town of less than 8,600 people is home to a 268 acre park which houses various plant communities, river cypress swamps, hardwood hammocks, and is also home to what the Hmong believe is a natural healing spring. The Hmong people believe the water has healing powers and it washes away any impurities and pollutants. People of Hmong ethnicity are traveling from all over the world to swim in this fountain of youth.
Nhia Yia Xiong is the first Hmong person to have swam in this natural healing spring. “When I living in Minnesota, I go emergency hospital one time every week, since I coming to swim in the water I not go to hospital one time,” explains Xiong. After learning of the power of Lithia Springs, Xiong spread the word through Hmong conference lines that he participates in every day.
To the rest of the world this is just an 82 acre sinkhole beneath sea level that pumps out water. Nearby resident, Hue G. Johnson, say it’s a nice swim spot but does not believe it has the powers to heal. Johnson, who lives a half mile from the park, says, “Two years ago I contracted an STD from a neighborhood girl, and I didn’t have health insurance to see a doctor. I spent $12 total for the six entry fees to be healed by this natural spring. Unfortunately it did not work for me, but whenever I’m in the water I felt free and clean. No more itching until I get out.”
Mai Lee Yang Thao has been coming to swim in Lithia Springs for the past 10 years. “My parents first visited when we lived in Michigan. I was skeptical at first but when I first saw my parents happier and healthier, I decided to give it a try. I took a dip into the water. The next day when we returned, I felt immediate excitement, weightlessness, and euphoria. I met the love of my life that day. My husband was 15 years older than me, had 3 kids already, and two failed attempts at bringing his Lao wife to the United States as they mysteriously disappeared. I believe the water’s healing powers helped me spiritually and allowed me to see through all his baggage for the person that he really is. I also lost 50 lbs, my face wrinkles faded, and my boobs increased two cup sizes.”
Whatever magical healing power that is in the waters of that spring is still unknown, as biologists have surveyed and tested the water quality. Mike Hunt of the Florida Water Works states that the spring is as clean as any other body of water. “There are no alarming levels of toxic contaminants aside from the increased concentrations of this unknown substance that we’ve yet to determine. But since people are still swimming in it, it should be okay.” ■