Posts tagged ‘baños’

submerged

Baños is a tourist trap inside a valley in central Ecuador about 3 hours from Quito. Ecuadorians and foreign travelers come here for its scenic beauty and access to high adrenaline sports like rafting, swinging (similar to bungee jumping except the rope used doesn’t bounce so you fall and swing beneath the bridge and above the river) and zip-lining through the trees :) The city is named after the plentiful waterfalls and thermal waters supposedly high in healthy minerals. The active Tungurahua volcano is nearby but climbing close to its peak is discouraged. One of the fun things i did was hike one of the mountains engulfing Baños from where it would supposedly be possible to see Tungurahua’s peak. But there were mountains in all directions, their peaks drowned by fog and so we never did figure out where the volcano was…

Horseback riding for the first time in my life without assistance and for longer than 2 minutes was more thrilling and pleasant than i ever imagined and i look forward to doing it again, albeit with a friendlier horse and guide and on flat land. I heard a disheartening story last night… one of the tourists was riding a horse (with guide, etc) on the trail up towards the volcano when the horse lost her balance and started to slip… he jumped off while the horse tumbled down 20 meters. Both survived but i’m not sure i would have…


I went rafting in class 4 rapids and fell out of the raft twice. The first time was my fault because my foot wasn’t securely inside the raft and i forgot to hold the security rope. I hadn’t taken the idea of falling out seriously, it was just a possibility that wouldn’t happen to me, as was the image of being inside water so fierce that regardless of how you move your body the waves do not let you breath. It was only later at night when i tried to sleep that i started to feel afraid realizing how helpless i’d been… in the water i felt more perplexed than scared, analyzing ‘why’ i had fallen as i struggled for air and safety. The second time i fell out was when the whole raft flipped over. I was the only “fortunate” one to have fallen beneath the raft and then be stuck inside the rapids, unable to breath again. On the positive side i can confirm that it’s exciting and a good exercise in patience. Panicking in this kind of situation just raises the rate of oxygen use and increases the chances of swallowing water.

Yesterday i rented a bike and cycled 35 km to Rio Verde and back, stopping to visit the Manto de La Novia and Devil’s Cauldron waterfalls. It wasn’t a difficult ride until the last 6 km when the road became excessively up-hill and i could no longer coerce my tired legs to peddle so i had to walk myself and my bike back. The weather which was hot when we left Baños in the morning turned chilly and rainy by the time we returned (typical Baños climate). We passed several zip-lines and the swing jumping bridge but did none, indulging ourselves solely with hiking and waterfalls. So next time i come canyoning and jumping await me :)))

 

One of the other things i did in Baños was study and i strongly recommend the Baños Spanish Center! It’s more personable than in Quito and slightly less expensive. Baños on the whole is a lot safer than Quito and with many more “fun” things to do when you’re not studying :)

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March 13, 2011 at 3:46 pm Leave a comment

An example of liberated travel:

Decide you want to go to a city called Baños and arrive casually to the bus station at 10 minutes before departure on a national holiday when people have a 4 day vacation and almost every seat to your destination has been sold… but somehow be lucky and buy the last ticket…

Arrive in Baños 3 hours later and meet other travelers from your bus who like you have no idea where they’ll sleep tonight. It’s almost 8pm, dark, and there’s a fiesta on the streets…. you want to join but first you need to find a place to put your bags…

Realizing that every hostel is full inquire at the last place you visit (which turns out to be an art gallery / hotel) if the 3 of you can just sleep on their floor in your sleeping bags. Feel good when the answer is yes.

Then go party.

Some cool sculptures and other photos from the art gallery where I spent the night with 2 Argentineans…

Unfortunately the Carnival in Baños turned out into the worst public celebration I’ve ever attended because the “fun” is actually spraying one another and unsuspecting strangers with foam from high-pressure canisters for 3 days!!! Never mind that it smells like a toilet, feels sticky and unpleasant, stings the eyes and has the possibility to damage ears when sprayed directly into them, and is probably highly toxic…

It reminded me a little of the Buddhist New Year in Asia, with its water throwing for 4 whole days, but there it was so much more fun and less malicious. And it was hot. Water was welcome. It didn’t smell, it didn’t sting the eyes, it dried.

March 8, 2011 at 11:18 am 3 comments


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