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Published: September 18th 2012
We have blazed a trail south to Baños, back into major civilization and a very touristy part of Ecuador, popular for international backpackers and Ecuadorians alike. Baños, baths in Spanish, was named after the town’s sacred hydrothermal springs.
Additionally, the town is situated below the Tungurahua Volcano. Tungurahua, which means “throat of fire” in the indigenous language, Quichua has been very active lately. Just a few weeks before our arrival, it was spewing ashes and a few flames. We were concerned we wouldn’t make it to Baños.
Fortunately, the volcano has settled a bit, having milder, intermittent activity. We haven’t heard any rumblings as of yet.
Getting here was only an adventure for the first half of the trip. We had to take that dirt path out of Chugchilán via the bus to Latacunga, another harrowing ride which I wrote about in a previous blog. On the way out though, I did make an interesting observation. The locals on the bus are un-phased by the narrow roads, steep drop offs and the rocks that fall in the path. They travel that road every day. It’s a necessity and a way of life. The bus driver, drives that trek
every day, knows each crazy corner and knows the limits of the bus. The odds were in our favor that the bus we were riding would not fall of the cliff. With that, I found mild comfort on the trek out of the Quilotoa loop.
In Latacunga, we visited the super market to get stocked up on snacks and beer and wine only to be informed you can’t purchase beer and wine on Sundays. Later in that same day, as in Sunday in Baños, we easily purchased the wine and beer at the grocery store. We were curious, if it was a Latacunga law, nationwide or just sporadic obedience to it. For us, mission accomplished. Happy Hour was served.
Out of Latacunga, we took a bus to Ambato, switched and then direct to Banos. After our bus dropped us off at the main bus terminal in Baños, We trekked across town to check into our BB, La Posada Del Arte, a very charming hostal on the edge of town with balconies, fireplaces, colorful artwork the decks the walls and waterfall views.
After checking in to our new accommodations, it was time for much needed laundry service. We
loaded up our plastic bags of dirty clothes, walked down each block. We came across a woman who has a small tienda selling basic cokes, and chips and runs a laundry shop in the back. Our clothes weighed 8 kilos and cost $8 to clean. You will see us repeating clothes again in the photos. No worries, they are clean!
We enjoyed a nice dinner in a touristy restaurant and slept quite well listening the sounds of the waterfall outside our window.
Monday morning, after a very large gringo oriented breakfast, we hiked up the mountain to several lookout points high above Baños. These trails were fairly easy and provided some amazing vantage points.
Later we opted for some normal tourism. We took a Chiva bus (basically, a cart on the back of a truck with no windows, to visit many of the areas waterfalls. The tour’s highlight afforded us an opportunity to ride a Tarabita, a very primitive gondola that hangs on dangling cables. A quite exhilarating ride, the Tarabita swept us across the canyon to the waterfall for a bird’s eye view.
We also stopped at a rock formation of Jesus, the tour bus
driver called the Roca de Jesus, Rock of Jesus. I must admit, we were blown away as it really was quite a remarkable resemblance – so much so I Googled it but couldn’t find any other information on the internet about it. I am not sure if it’s officially known by all as, “The Roca de Jesus” or just by our driver. Regardless, it was still amazing. Reference the photos.
For our final day, we walked up the town’s sacred waterfall, Cascada de La Virgen. The waters from the fall are said to be sacred and many people from far away visit to drink the water. It is located next to the town’s main bath.
Today, we are heading further into the Amazon basin to Puyo. In Puyo, we will spend a day with Kichwa Indians for a more cultural, less touristy experience. We will learn about the medicinal plants in the Amazon, how they make food, and ceramic pottery for
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