So I remembered what I was going to say. We do really like Ecuador, so much so that when we drove through the area in between Cuenca and Guayaquil, I kept asking Ron about buying property in that area. It was SPECTACULAR! We come from British Columbia and know something about vistas and views. This was really something to see, and really punctuated that Ecuador is fantastically beautiful.
But back to Baňos….
As Baňos sits close to the rainforest, and situated within a deep gorge, it has a tendency to be a rain-gatherer. It was gorgeously green, waterfalls galore, hot springs feeding pools and medicinal baths, and wet.
|We are warmer now - BIG thumbs up|
As there are quite a few tourists that come to visit the baths, both international and Ecuadorian, there are a terrific number of diverse restaurants, some good, and some with feral dogs as a part of the attraction. Our last night in town, we tried the Stray Dog Brew Pub, thinking that the name probably had an interesting history, and what tourist doesn’t like a brew pub. The owner, some guy from Chicago, had come to Baňos years ago and was struck by the number of stray dogs roaming the streets. He was so interested, he started taking photos and has compiled a casual pictorial of the wandering dogs, left on the bar, available to be viewed by patrons. The namesake of the pub is now a resident, and had just had a litter of puppies. This protective mum was allowed to wander the restaurant, barking at anyone she didn’t like, and when one of the wait staff put her outside, she then proceeded to terrorize various lone, usually elderly, pedestrians. Now anyone that knows me, knows that I love dogs, and animals in general. However….I was incensed. Having been bit by a stray dog in Mexico, I am now a bit more cautious of those dogs out defending their piece of the pie. It has been weeks since we were there, and I’m still fuming about. I lost it when some man tried to come into the pub and the dog stood inside the doorway preventing him from entering. Not only was I a bit concerned for my ankles, but my dining experience was ruined. In addition…..the wings were shit!!!
But I digress….
The waterfall right in town emptied into the local baths, or washing stations. Gave me a break from doing laundry on the boat.....kidding.
|Laundry room with a view|
|Similar primitive conditions when washing aboard|
One day we decided to brave the weather (it was after all, just wet) and went for a walk up to a mirador overlooking the town. This photo is taken only 1/3 of the way up, giving you a good perspective of how the town is situated.
One of the reasons we kind of liked Banos was all the good choices for alternative types of restaurants. We’ve been in South America now for over a year, and have traveled to Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and now are getting a “taste” of Ecuador. We have tried, and tried but we really don’t think that our north American palates are that enamored of the local delicacies. Something about needing to choose between petting something and consuming it leaves us cold. Besides, isn’t guinea pig only once removed from rat? And bananas (okay, plaintains….) stuffed with cheese and grilled, seems to me to be pretty close to stuffing a mango with a can of tuna. Haute cuisine, this is not!
|Yea, okay, but no|
|Yea, okay, still no|
In between days of solid rain, we managed to head out when there was a break in the action. Having lived in San Diego, and worked at the world famous zoo there when I was a teenager, I’m not easily impressed with caged animals (the Stray Dog Brew Pub could have used a cage) but there were some interesting residents at the local zoo. Set on the edge of a cliff, and tucked into yet another gorge, we saw local examples of fauna (that hadn’t already been eaten by the millions of previous Inca warriors) that we’ve never seen before.
|This piece is entitled "Spectacled Bear, at rest"|
|Now that we've seen them, should we save $2000 and skip the Galapagos?|
|Sometimes he's soooo needy|
|Not sure what this is, something grey|
|Like I said, needy|
|I had no idea they were so stout|
|I'm not a big fan of birds, but these looked sort of good|
|ANYONE to have a conversation with - needy|
|Escapees from the zoo|
One of the main reasons to go to Baňos is to do La Ruta de las Cascadas (Route of the Waterfalls). The colourful local chivas (open air buses) are available to jump on to do the tour, anywhere between 15 and 65 kms from town down to Puyos, as you can jump on and off when you want. We opted to go via mountain bike instead. With the almost constant downhill run, it didn’t tax us too much. Along the way, there were various ziplines and cable cars to do an aerial overview of the rivers and gorges, and while it was only $5 per person, some of the equipment looked a bit dodgy.
See the cable car?
|A bit wee|
|Early ziplines - yea, nope|
We chose to watch.
When there was a tunnel, an alternate route for bicyclists was provided, taking the angst out of the ride, unlike our ride down The Most Dangerous Road in the World, in Bolivia.
The last waterfall and most famous, El Pailon del Diablo (Cauldron of the Devil) was reached by another down, down, down trail from the road above. The entire way I kept muttering under my breath, “what goes down, must come up”. As we were on bicycles, just because at the end we would be back up by the road, that didn’t mean anything….we still needed to get back to our hostel! Whatever…it was again, spectacular.
At the bottom. Brewing up before the return ascent.
|Wonder how many photos we have with beer bottles in them?|
We really do prefer to travel the slow way. We ended up spending a week in Banos….and it was just right.