Friday, January 02, 2015

South America Adventure - Part VIII - Banos

June 10 - back in Banos after our day in the jungle. We slept in and listened to the sound of rain. Ecuador is amazingly green, and it makes sense when it rains all night and into the morning. The roosters woke us up a bit, and so did the snoring guy next door.

We left our hostel around noon and had lunch at a place owned by an American expat - Hood Cafe. Of course I had lomo and it was delicious. Meg opted for waffles and ice cream.

Someone left the front door open at some point, and this guy came over to hang out with me. He followed us when we left. I wanted him to come along, and Meg did not.

It was still raining a bit, so we stayed around town. First stop, the cathedral.

Then we walked over to the bus station to get tickets to Quito for the next day.

It started to clear up later in the afternoon, so we hired a cab to drive us up to the Casa del Arbol, which was about 20 minutes up a hill.

We had to park, then walk up a steep, super muddy hill to get there. Our cab drive was awesome and basically pulled us up through the mud. Then he was our photographer and swing pusher and guide. We hired the right guy.

Glorious photos of fun below. We loved this place.

I saw plenty of photos before I came here and thought it'd be pretty scary. Little secret - it's not scary.

There's a big huge (active) volcano bag there somewhere.

We started down the mountain and our driver took us to another outlook spot that we didn't know about. Plus, he was playing great music. I loved this guy.

A little peak of that volcano.

Ruined shoes in that mud.

Back to the hostel - so much rain and green and pretty!

Lazy late afternoon, then we got up again and went to dinner. We tried a little Mexican place, and though I was skeptical, it was pretty good. 

Quick stop at the grocery store for snacks - this place loves wafers, and so do I.

We tried to book a volcano night tour, but since there wasn't any volcanic activity at the time, they turn that tour into a generic city tour in a party bus. We ended up back at the viewpoint from earlier, and they served us some hot cinnamon drinks. The tour guide wasn't the best, and we were the only English speakers, so it was slightly annoying, but we hung in there.

Some of the party bus - loud music, and we were cold, and I felt like I would fall out.

The tour ended at a discoteca, but we hoped off and walked home. No, gracias.

The next morning we hopped onto a waterfall tour - ruta de las cascadas. It would have been cool to bike it, but we weren't prepped for that.

Our first stop - we took a cable car across this river. I was a little nervous. Meg was brave and did the zip line back across.

She went head first into that abyss.

Next stop.

Our tour guide took photos and kept telling us to do poses like we were in a calendar. Ha. 

At some point we parked and walked along a path. Ended up at another spot with zip lines and bungee. I almost did the dual zip line with Meg, but hey, I'm a chicken. 

Our last stop was the Devil's Cauldron. We had about an hour or so to walk around and hike down into the falls area. 

A few hours later, back to town for lunch and shopping before our return to Quito. We had to get some of the famous taffy to take home.

While at the bus station, I noticed an American looking kid come in and try to buy a ticket. I had just seen the ticket lady leave the office for a minute, so I told him so, and that she'd probably be back. He got a ticket a few minutes later and turned up on our bus.  Turns out he goes to BYU and he'd been in Ecuador for a few weeks with his brother and sister in law, working on a farm. They were all headed back to Quito that morning, but he had missed the bus when he popped off to grab a bite to eat, so he was catching up with them.

We talked most of the ride and ended up hanging out with them back in Quito. Small world.

Our bus ride back was kinda crazy. The least of it - they showed Blood Diamond as the movie, and it's really violent.  The bus conductor warned us a couple times to really watch our stuff. Put it below the seats - someone behind you can slash your bag. Put it above the seats - someone will swipe it as they get off the bus. Um....I just made sure to stay awake and hold on.

As we got closer to Quito, a crazy guy jumped on to sell candy bars. I could tell he wasn't a native Spanish speaker. He and the bus conductor got in a heated argument and started pushing each other right next to my seat. The conductor told us to take our stuff down from over our seats and hold onto it. The crazy guy heard that and was kind of offended. The lady next to us bought a candy bar, and then the guy yelled to the whole bus that we should all be more like her.  Finally he got off the bus. Eeeek.

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