Day 757 (25.04.09)
Waking to a pretty dreary day and following our exertions of the walking on the Quilotoa loop we decided to take it easy only managing a walk around town. In most of the local shops you can see the local taffy being made as it is stretched, swung and looped repeatedly around a hook on the wall. They made it look so easy so we just had to buy some to try!
As we've made our way through Ecuador we've seen election fever in full swing with free bullfights in Quito, trucks driving around blaring out slogans, cards being handed out and support for favoured parties painted all over peoples houses and walls. There were approximately 40 parties in contention (all numbered) and Sunday would be the big decider - voting day. Because of this, no bars were open in town and no alcohol could be bought from shops from Friday onwards to ensure that nobody's voting decision would be affected by the hard stuff!
It turned out that we were able to buy some beers from a local shop (perhaps because we were gringos) so long as we didn't tell anyone and left the
shop with it all wrapped up in a brown bag! We teamed up with some other guys we had met near Quito for a huge BBQ in the evening at our hostel instead of going out.
Day 758 (26.04.09)
Continuing where we left off yesterday we had another lazy time in hostel and, due to fairly heavy rainfall, not really venturing much further. Set in the shadow of a huge and pretty active volcano there's a lot of thermal activity in the town so we topped the day off with an evening trip to Baños´s hot springs, from which it gets it's name (baños means baths).
Getting in we soon found our way to the hottest pool there, which was pretty bloody hot to be honest! We spent a solid hour and a half hopping from the really hot pool to the freezing cold plunge pool. We know what you are thinking ... "that doesn't sound like much fun" but it really was! Trying to make our way out we went to get our things from the clothes deposit room, only to be plunged into darkness. This was no blown lightbulb however, the whole town was pitch
black apart from those posh places with an emergency generator and a few car headlamps. With a bit of fumbling around and pot luck we got the right clothes back and meandered back to the hostel for dinner.
Day 759 (27.04.09)
Having pretty much sat on our butts for two days, we were ready for some exercise. Not wanting to over do it however we opted for a mostly downhill cycle past some of the regions waterfalls. As we organised our bikes, we were joined by the others that we'd bbq'd with the other night and were soon setting off in a convoy of 10 bikes.We soon found out however that the words 'mostly downhill' also means there are up hills as well - damn! Flying down the hills and crawling up others, we passed through a pitch black tunnel (pretty weird cycling toward a distant light at the end of the tunnel without being able to see anything in between) whilst travelling down the picturesque valley. We stopped to catch a hair-raising rickety cable car across the valley to see one of the first waterfalls at close range which was pretty fun.
Reaching the main waterfall
of the route we all parked up our bikes and set about the walk down into the valley to see the waterfall. When we reached the bottom 20 mins later we got to a little check point where a chap wanted a dollar from everyone to go up to the view point. This would have been OK if he had change ... do you see where this is going! In the end we all sorted it out so we each owed another a dollar and got let through his little gate and onto the path to the waterfall.
Not much further you got the first views of the falls from a number of platforms built out from the cliff sides and they are pretty impressive. You are then able to go further, however to carry on you need to crawl through the tunnel cut out from the rock scraping your way through until the top and final view which takes you (pretty much) behind the waterfall. Well worth it.
Munching on a quick empanada at the top by our bikes we managed to get a cheap truck back to Baños where we dumped off our bikes and had
an hour or so more to relax.
Having enjoyed our thermal bath the night before, we all decided that we had better make the most of being here and go for another. Yet another scorching and chilly plunge session later and once again we emerged refreshed.
Day 760 (28.04.09)
Our last day in Baños and we wanted to make it a good one ... Some of the other guys had decided that the best way to do this was to get in a wet suit and go repelling, sliding and zipwiring down a gorge, so we were off Canyoning.
The day started a little slowly as we took a bit of time pulling together our equipment but eventually found ourselves in the truck out to the gorge with none of us completely sure what we were in for. One of the girls, Caroline, even less so asking - 'so what actually is Canyoning?'
Kitted up we had a bit of a hot climb in our wetties up the hill to the start point where after a little instruction and demonstration we were off! The first repell was a bit of a practice at about 8m
long and straight down the face of the waterfall. This made it a little more interesting with the water both buffeting your legs and spashing in your face. Great fun and a refreshing cold dip after our hot walk.
We continued down the gorge taking it one after the other down several waterfalls up to 30m in height until reluctantly we neard the bottom and a couple of (Chrissie's favourite) slides down some wet and slippery rocks, the last of which unceremoniously dumped you in a pool at the bottom, not graceful in the slightest but hilarious!
Having had a thoroughly enjoyable day with some great laughs we picked up the truck back to the hostel and prepared for leaving on the afternoon bus to Riobamba. It turned out that most of our group were heading the same way so 9 of us arrived into the town together and only when we arrived did we find that the train ride we had planned here wouldn't quite live up to our expectations (more detail about this on the next blog). We signed up anyway since it was what we'd come here for and as we'd all be together it
would be a laugh.
After a bite to eat we all retired to the two rooms we'd managed to find, the next morning would be an early one.
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