True Relaxing Starts Now

Banos Travel Blog

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I left Casapaxi around 9am Monday. The owner was very nice and helped me get a taxi to the bus terminal. She also said if I needed help or had any problems with the rest of my trip to call or e-mail  and she would do the best she could to help me out. Total for 6 nights: $44.80. So, onwards to the chaos that is Quito´s bus terminal.  There are people everywhere: travelers, vendors, line operators shouting at the top of their lungs for you to use their buses. I bought my ticket to Baños for 10am departure for $3.50.
It takes forever to get out of Quito, a city of almost 1.5 million people. The road to Baños goes up into the mountains. Quito itself settles most of it´s population into a valley between the mountians. It´s amazing how perfect the city looks nested in that valley. The view from the bus is beautiful. Pillowy clouds over mountains so high, you can´t even see the tops amongst the white fluff. We passed through many towns, many of them farming communities. The homes are the standard cement block, rectangular shape. However, I saw some of the most gorgeous houses I have ever seen on this trip. They were smaller, some were cottages, others castle like with huge windows overlooking the town. We also passed through several communities with family businesses of making cement blocks. A woman filling the cement mixer with the ingredients and a man moving the formed blocks to continue drying in the equatorial sun. Then those dried blocks being moved to stacks of hundreds, ready for purchase. I saw a lot of livestock on the way too: cows, sheep, llamas, chickens, ducks, pigs, and horses. The larger animals tied up in a patch of grass in need of mowing, both for that purpose, and for feeding. Animal transport vehicles consist of small Cheverolet trucks with two full size cows in the bed of one, and a mother cow and her calf in another, possibly going to market. The bus passed through many towns with school getting out. Children scattered everywhere in their uniforms, riding bikes in the ratio 3:1, flying down streets.
Entering Baños (also mainly placed in a valley of mountains, with Volcan Tungurachua nearby) you see greenhouse-like structures defying gravity up on the hills, looking as if they were going to slide down the hill. At the terminal, I got into a taxi, which took me to my hostal, Plantas y Blancos (plants and white), which as you can imagine are white painted rooms with green plants scattered throughout the hotel and rooms. I got a dorm room, which have three beds. I ate lunch at a local restaraunt and had trout, rice, and beans. I returned to my hostal and met my dormmates, Sarah from Engalnd, and Claudia, originally from Columbia, from New York City.
The next day I ate breakfast upstairs, Eggs and bread and pinapple juice, with a girl from Holland and a couple from Sweden. I  have met many people traveling alone at this hostal. At 10:30, Claudia and I took a tour on an open sided jungle bus to go see the waterfalls. We saw many along the Rio Pastaza. We stopped at a tarabitia (an open sided cable car) that suspended us at deadly heights over the river. We stopped in Rio Verde, a small town, to do a 1 Km hike to see the Pailon de Diablo (the devil´s cauldron) which is one of the most famous waterfalls in Ecuador. First we viewed it from a suspension bridge from afar. Then we paid one dollar to go see it up close. We got soaked. Then we went and crawled through a small crawl space, dug out from the rock to get to a balcony where you can stand underneath the waterfall, and got even more soaked. The wet clothes made for an unpleasant, uphill, hike back up to the bus.
Freezing, exhausted, and hungry we returned to our hostal and showered. We went to go eat at another local restaraunt. I had almuerzo for $2.50. We went to go to the museum in the Basilica which had history of the church and the town. My favorite part was the poorly taxidermied animals with bulging colored eyes and unproportionate bodies to the point of where you couldn´t tell what they were. There were also preserved snakes in jars and other odd animal findings. We returned to our hostal to take a nap, which I didn´t, but I got some laying down and Regina time in, which is always good. Afterward we stopped to see the inside of the Basillica, which was beautiful. Then off to La Piscina de La Virgen for hot baths. We started with the hottest, at 118 degrees F, then we went to the warm one, and then dove into the cold one, which felt very refreshing. Afterwards we had dinner at a fastfood restaraunt: hot dog and fries and for dessert chocolate covered fruit on a wooden skewer. We got back to our hostal before the rain started pouring down to see that we had receieved a new roommate, a girl from NYC. We talked about the rest of our travel plans. I am in Baños for today and tomorrow I will start to head towards Cuenca, where I will meet up with Claudia again on Sunday.
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photo by: timbo