Denied our train ride, we headed to Baños. It´s Ecuador´s equivalent of a resort town, and a total tourist trap. I feel wrong admitting that it was my favorite city by far. Granted, I´ve only seen four, so maybe it´s too early to be picking favorites. Oh well, too late.
Baños is in a valley, surrounded on all sides by lush green mountains and a terrifying volcano. It rained the whole time we were there, keeping the mountains in a shroud of fog and adding a lovely mysterious tinge to our visit. The streets are crammed with fun. There are gift shops that actually contain colorful handmade goods you would buy and give to your friends with pride(nothing like the crappy sweatshirt/maplesyrup/build-a-bear shops we have littering Government St in Victoria). Taffy pullers sell all sorts of weird looking candies on the street. They hang their taffy on large wooden hooks and pull it out into the street-wind around the hook, pull into the street, repeat forever. There are tagua nut carvers that create beautiful animals and beads and earrings and buttons from these hard white nuts that end up looking a lot like ivory. And everywhere you go, an adventure tourism operator is happy to book you on the adventure of your life. You can go on volcano walks, horseback riding, rafting, bungee jumping, swing jumping, waterfall rapelling.
We did none of these things. What we went to specifically was to do a bike ride from Baños to Puya. It´s 61km, mostly down hill, and it takes you past six or seven waterfalls. You go as far as you can, then hail down a bus and ride back uphill in style. Due to the above-mentioned rain, and that these roads are of the dirt variety and become very muddy, we decided to postpone this adventure. At best we would have been wet and dirty and exposed to illness, and at worst we would have slid right off the mountain in a big muddy pile.
So once again our plans were foiled. We did go to the hot springs. They were pretty manky. The water was nice and hot, but also murky brown. Our guide books told us this is the natural water colour, but the smell left on our bathing suits and sandals suggests something else. And I managed to hurt my foot. Again. I was lowering myself into the hot pool and slipped and landed hard on the bottom of the pool. Somehow this magicallly split my foot right under my toe. Nathan´s toe also hurts from an unidentified mishap. Perhaps I shall refer to our travels as The Trip of the Cursed Feet.
PS I was going to add more pictures, but that seems to crash this computer.
PPS Please excuse any and all spelling mistakes. The spell checker is in Spanish, so it reads every word as a mistake.