Quito to Baños

Whoa we’re shit hung again. Well MacKay and I anyways. What are we doing today? Grab a bus outta Quito. Yesterday Marion had told us about this cool spot called Baños. Said it was pretty with lots of adventure stuff to do. Actually is the adventure capital of Ecuador. Getz scopes it online and it looks baller. Sure let’s go there. After breakfast.

Drisdelle tells us he ran into Katrina just before she left this morning. She had a fairly apt description of McBurger and I from last night, “They just keep fueling each other”.

We walk down to douchebag square for breakfast. Our cabbie from the last 2 days gives us a wave good morning. Set up shop at a sports bar kinda place across from the Foch Yeah sign. There’s some sort of photo shoot going on around the square with some hip guy and girl. We each get huevos rancheros and they are excellent.

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Don’t even bother with coffee this time round as in previous experiences in this country it has tasted like shit and had zero effect.

Our personal Quito cabbie isn’t around so we nab another guy. He’s taken the time to tack a Barcelona football team flag to the ceiling, color coordinating the tacks with the flag colors. He drives backwards out the road to avoid the one way street ahead of us. Same thing our dude did yesterday. Pretty fun, flying down the street backwards. The radio announcer is amazing. He speaks Hyperspanish. A Barcelona game comes on and the cabbie is pumped. He starts telling us how much he loves them. Yeah man, we noticed.

We’re driving a long long way to this bus station. Now it kind of makes sense to us why the bus into town dropped us on the side of the highway to die on the way in. Suddenly we hear Goooooooooooooooooal! Its the longest goal announcement I’ve ever heard. Cabbie is pumped. Messi made his mark yet again.

Get to the bus station and the cabbie advises us which company to go with and points out directions to it. The ride was only 12 bucks for 40 minutes. Crazy. Taxis and Buses are super cheap in this country.

The bus station is really nice and organized. We go with the company cabbie suggested and get directed around to the bus.

Hop on and MacKay is chanting Statham Statham Statham. Instead they play this terrible flick with Hugh Jackman beeping some sort of robot boxer jockey hustler guy of some sort. Can’t remember the title, let’s call it Rock ’em Jackman Robots. He probably felt like a tool making that movie, shadow boxing with his robot. And instead of straight action it assented like they were trying to add character development and emotional ties. This isn’t Rocky guys, it’s a dumb robot boxing movie. Oh i think it’s caked Real Steel. Definitely try to see it.

The bus takes us through some small towns and then as we got closer to Baños the scenery got unreal. We drove along the side of a deep valley with a cloud shrouded volcano in the distance ahead of us. Agriculture everywhere lending that quilt-like pattern to the lush green mountainside. A rocky river running way down at the base. It was astounding. Maybe the best road side scenery yet.

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We pull into Baños. Smaller than I expected. Really pretty little town with incredible scenery surrounding it. Seems very touristy, but with this location its easy to understand why.

We get dropped off and realize that during the morning hangover we forgot to look up any hostels or anything. Just off the bus are a couple of Aussies. We chat em up a bit and ask where they’re staying. Leader dude whips out a Lonely Planet for South America. Look at you LD. Very handy. Not very adventure detective but hey. We take a pic of the hostel page for Baños and jump in a taxi.

We go to a place called Chimenea Hostel. It’s fantastic. 10 bucks each. Private room (my turn for top bunk). Pool. Hot tub. Steam baths. Massage lounge. Hammocks. Great rooftop terrace with killer views of downtown and of the huge waterfall careening off the cliff gave just a few blocks away.

We walk up to waterfall. It looks stunning, popping out from the jungle like foliage. They’ve created a bath area at the base, hence the name Baños. Lots of people milling about, locals and tourists. We climbed up to a little look out, the wooden railings all slick with a green slime. Got some good pics of the falls and the town from up there

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Near the waterfall (and all over town) are cool murals like these:

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We walk back into town to check out the church we’d seen from the cab ride earlier. There are vendors with these creepy zombie horses. Maybe kids are supposed to get creepy pics on them. The church is in a very pretty central square with a park and palm trees.

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The area is bustling with people and there is a row of wooden kiosks where a dozen vendors have set up a series of all the exact same shops with cheap trinkets and candles.

We hit the main strip in town and it’s packed with restaurants and gift shops. There are also a handful of candy shops with people making taffy right on the street. They have a long piece of stringy taffy wrapped around a knob of wood and they wrap it and pull it, wrap it and pull it. Don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. One nice older lady doing this notices my interest and hands me a small piece. Sweet fresh taffy. I share it with Drisdelle.

We get distracted by some colorful hats. When we were entering Ecuador we met two Irish guys, both wearing colorful toques. We’ve had our eyes peeled since. We walk into the little shop and queue the music. Shopping montage. MacKay nabs a few things for family, Drisdelle gets a poncho and one of the traditional looming Ecuadorian hats (now he’s looking like a true adventure detective! ), and I finally solve the no sweater issue by picking up a soft, red alpaca sweater.

It’s nearing dinner time but before we find a spot we hit up one of the many adventure booming spots in town. Adventure capital for real, Baños has a ton of shops around town, all offering the full suite of adventures. Canyoning, paragliding, rock climbing, white water rafting, dune buggie, dirt bike, and quad rentals, hikes up to the volcano, hikes in the jungle, zip lining, thaaaaaaaaa works. You could spend a week here and not do it all. Falling in love with Baños.

We book a rafting adventure for 9 in the morning. Our plan is to take it easy tonight (for real), get up for rafting, then rent some all terrain vehicles in the afternoon, and do the volcano tour in the evening. Adventure Day!

Walking around town a bit more we discover a cool bell tower beside a really pretty park.

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After some scouting we come upon a traditional looking spot. We have a very authentic dinner of mixed plates of beans, rice, salad, and our choice of meats. The girl who owns the place cooks everything on a little grill right at the front of the restaurant. Cut it all up, toss it together, add salsa picante, num num nummy.

Bellies full we get back to the hostel and wind things down on the roof with a few beers. The view up they’re is also great at night. The waterfall is lit up beautifully. A giant glowing cross stands on the mountainside above it. Out towards downtown, the church is also illuminated and the lights of the park glow softly into the palms above.

Knowing we have a full on adventure day tomorrow we actually do take it easy for once and go to bunk early.

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