I took 4 hour bus from Quito to Banos for about half of the cost of a pint from Melrose. This is a beautiful town in a small valley surrounded by steep forested mountains and volcanoes. It is most famous for it´s hot baths but locals from other town come here to party on the wekends. It feels a bit like Banff or Queenstown because of the florencent homade signs on every street advertizing everything from jungle tours to bungy jumping.
I am not sure if this is a specialty at Banos but it is comon to see the local streching and pulling very large wads of what I believe to be sugarcane to make candy treats.
Wedneday night I went out with my dorm-mate Venessa from Vancouver Island. There were not a lot of tourists out because it was mid week. However, the Limerichs bartender´s brother had just returned from living in the US for 3 years so there was a big group of locals who included us in there rounds of flaming sanduches which are shots that have layers of blue (blue coraco), red (grenadine), orange (orange colored sugarcane mooshine which is quite nasty) light on fire. The bartender Marco was realy friendly and spoke enough english to cary a conversation.
Thursday I did a horse back riding tour around Banos.
Our ever gasy beasts carried us to the top of a lush green mountain scattered with greenhouses placed on unreasonable slopes to ultimately give us an amazing view of the adventure center below. It was pretty cool but not as much of a rush as the raftiung.
Friday I went for a half day rafting trip. We got locally modified flatbed truck that had been painted with bight colors, and cheesy lights at 8:30. In typical Ecuadorian style the driver had no hesitation on passing other vehicles on blind corners as we made out way down the moutain dropping over 1000 m to the start rafting peparture point. I was placed in the¨english boat which consited of 4 german girls, an american couple, myself, and the ever entertaining guide. On our 2 1/2 hour decent on the 3+ rapinds we all had our chance at the front where the water in your face was relentless. The only one to fall out was the big strong American chap. I would recomend this rafting to anyone going to Banos. I chose just went with the company next to the Hostal Plantas el Blanco but I think they are all about the same. It should be $25 for the half day including luch at a restaurant on the way back.