Published: July 29th 2012July 28th 2012
Day 11: Banos Day 2:
We woke up this morning hoping to go mountain biking down the Waterfall Route, but it was raining some from the time we woke up. It wasn't even 7am yet, so we took a walk up towards our nearby waterfall where the famous thermal springs are located. Unbelievably, the main thermal springs near the waterfall were packed with people in their bathing suits, in the cold and rain! Granted, we knew the thermal springs were hot, but it was 7am and it was raining. Since breakfast wasn't included in this hostal, we then went to one of the internet-recommended places, Rico Pan. Manoli ordered fruit & yogurt and I had scrambled eggs, and we both ordered capuccinos. Everything was good and pretty inexpensive. When we returned to the hostal, we gathered up our dirty clothes and dropped them off at the front desk for them to wash. We had about 9 pounds of dirty clothes and they told us it would be four dollars and be ready that afternoon. Since it was still raining off and on, we strolled around town looking at a lot of the stores for souvenirs. Well, Manoli did, and I
tagged along. There are tons of shops in Banos, many times selling the same items, such as the long line of booths across from the hostal, all selling sugar cane, taffy, and guava jelly. On other streets, you can watch taffy pulling in several shops in a row. There is enough variety though to keep you busy looking. We also visited the local market where mostly people were eating various local dishes, and went to the supermarket right across the street to get some water and Coke. In our loop around town, we noticed the trail to the Cafe del Cielo that goes up the side of one of the nearby ridges to a coffe shop at the very top. Since it was still raining some and we'd already decided to put off our waterfall route until tomorrow, we decided we'd climb it when the rain stopped. Again we figured we'd have a big lunch and a light dinner, so we wandered around at lunch time until we found a good-looking local place called Restaurant El Buen Sabor. They had a large variety, many items not all that cheap, unless they were either large portions or included more items than
were listed, such as roasted chicken for $5.00. We noticed "Almuerzo con carne" (Lunch with beef) and "Almuerzo con pollo" (Lunch with chicken) were only $3.75 and $3.60, so we asked what was included. Well, would you believe that for that price, you get a juice, a bowl of soup, a plate of rice, chicken, potatoes, and a dab a salad, along with jello for dessert? Everything was quite good too. Even the jello was tasty.
By 3pm or so it had stopped raining completely, so we packed up Manoli's camera bag with my video camera, a water bottle, and an umbrella just in case, and headed to the trail up to the Cafe del Cielo. A couple of locals near the foot of the trail assured us it was steep, but would only take us 20 minutes to hike. Ha! We climbed for over an hour, almost always uphill and at a tiring angle, until we finally reached the cafe. Along the way, we picked up several other hikers from France consisting of a young man and an older couple in the 50s (probably his parents), who had hiked from the Mirador del Virgen in the opposite direction.
They hadn't realized the cafe place was there, so they decided to tag along. The views along the way were awesome, and we ran into quite a few houses perched on the cliff, including a hospedaje (inn) about one third of the way up. I can't imagine they get a lot of guests. We finally reached the cafe which is just part of a large, fancy resort hotel and spa. After taking some photos, we decided to check on the price of a capuccino as our reward. Figuring they would be expensive in a place like that, we were pleasantly surprised to find out capuccinos were only $1.60 each... cheaper than down in town! We sipped our drinks and enjoyed the view, but since it was after 5pm now, we had to hurry a bit so we wouldn't get caught hiking down the trail when it got dark. We made it back to the bottom in just under 45 minutes before it got dark at all.
Being Saturday night, the town was really hopping. This town sees a lot of Ecuadorian tourists, maybe even more than foreigners. Weekends are apparently even more popular, as the streets were loaded with
Ecuadorian tourist shopping, eating, and riding the two cute little trains around town. After a short rest in the hostal, we ventured out to find Manoli's banana vendor and my dinner. We didn't find the lady selling roasted bananas, so she ended up getting a little bag of stuff from a street vendor and bought the chili and fries plate at the same place as last night, Hickory. My plate was delicious and even bigger than I could finish for $2.60. Manoli liked most of her $1.50 packet, but she couldn't deal with the cooked pork skin, so a local dog got a real treat. We strolled back to the hostal, eating our food. Again we tried to get a movie on NetFlix, but something wasn't working with the connection. We gave up and Manoli read a book while I downloaded Amazon.com's Kindle for PC eBook reader. I got sleep before I found a good book and still hadn't gotten around to finishing the blog, so I'm doing it the next morning. Today we are hoping to do the waterfall route on mountain bikes, but as I write this before breakfast, it is raining hard again. We'll see.
There are more photos below