Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Travel Tuesday: Bathing in Baños

Whenever we asked for recommendations for Ecuador, Baños was the first place to roll off the tongue from our fellow travellers. Knowing a bit of Spanish the first time I heard it, I pictured it as a big, old toilet. I'm so happy that my preconceptions were wrong!

We arrived horribly early one morning. When we got off the bus we did our usual checks after we get off the bus, and realised that our Lonely Planet was no longer with us. We'd sadly left it on the bus. Checking the iPad for a map was the next port of call, but unfortunately there was no battery, meaning we had no way to navigate ourselves to our hostel, and it was going to be hours before there would be a sign of life to point us in the right direction. We waited in the bus station until the sun came up, and then went walking around the town.

Luckily it was incredibly small, we had a vague memory of what the hostel looked like and in what direction it was in, so it only took a few minutes before we'd found our hostel, Princesa Maria. This turned out to be an amazing hotel with an incredibly friendly owner. He didn't really speak much English, but it was a perfect opportunity to practise and he was so eager to help. What he lacked in English he made up with his son who was a professor of English at the uni and could speak about another million languages.

It was in Baños, with the hostel owner's help that I finally went to a doctor at a hospital who was really helpful and managed to cure me of the illness that had been following me around. As I waited for my test results there was a huge rumble that sounded like thunder. Seeing my worried face the doctor told me not to worry, it was just the volcano. Not seeing how this could be at all reassuring, I asked him if it was going to erupt, and he explained that it had been erupting for the last ten years. I guess that made it a little better!

Feeling like we were on the mend, I decided to get a massage from a little shop in the centre of the town, which obviously did the trick, as when I woke up the next day, my meds had kicked in and I felt great. I felt so great that we made the decision to hire bikes and ride the road from Baños to Rio Verde.

It's a popular route for Ecuadorian and foreign tourists alike. It goes through a valley and follows the path of the river. You're surrounded by green mountains and gushing water. Every now and then there are little pit stops where you can do other activities like bungee or canopy. Feeling like I didn't want to tempt fate with only just feeling better, I sat this one out. There was a little restaurant along the path which served BBQ'd fish cooked in corn leaves, it was absolutely amazing, and if you ever find yourself down this road I'd highly recommend it. The owner is more than happy to talk to you about his fresh produce and the fact he used to run jungle tours for foreigners before all the animals started to disappear.
Baños
Baños
Baños
Baños
Baños

Before we knew it, we'd got to the small village where you can hop on a pick up truck with your bike, which takes you back to Baños. By the time we got back, the rain had set in, which meant we had to cancel our trip to 'la casa de arboles' a huge tree swing high up in the mountains. We substituted this for a nap.

In the evening, it was time to see what the town was all about and visit the public hot baths.There is a waterfall that runs behind the baths which is lit up at night and looks really pretty. It was a nice bit of scenery to look at while we soaked. It was a really nice atmosphere at night, everyone wore shower caps that made them look like jelly fish bobbing up and down in the water. There were a couple of pools, varying from really hot to freezing cold. Needless to say I wasn't brave enough to try out the cold one.
Baños
Baños
Baños
We were eventually forced out of the pool because of our rumbling tummies, so we got out and headed to Comic Burgers, a Marvel themed burger restaurant.
Baños
Baños
Baños
The next morning we were woken right on time to get ready for our bus by the volcano! A pretty fitting end to our lovely time in Banos.

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