September 14, 15 and 16
Baños de Agua Santa was radical. From start to finish, without exceptions. What follows is a chronological narration of the events of my favorite weekend yet in Ecuador.
T’was an early rise Friday morning with an hour plus trole ride to the southern most terminal of Quito. This was momentous for one reason, that being I had not been that far south on Planet Earth yet. It wasn’t that riveting, honestly, but it is a fun fact.
Precisely at 9:15-10:00, 13 gringos (it was a very large group) assembled in the Quitumbe bus terminal with tickets to Baños in hand. I was pumped. And this excitement lasted well into the next 7(9) hours, including the following 4 hour bus ride.
We continued towards Baños with marvelous views. (Unfortunately, my camera’s battery was not charged, so I have very few photos of this event. But I have borrowed some great photos from some random soul.) Now, mountains are quite a common sight in so many places around the world. And this is no exception for Ecuador, as there are more mountain peaks than you and I have fingers and toes. Our route to Baños, though, was especially amazing. The mountains we passed through became more immense and more and beautiful. By the time we reached “Baños” we were positive they named their town incorrectly. We saw lush green and steep mountains 360º around us, including a slightly clouded view of Tugurahua. Fun fact: Tugurahua is the ninth highest peak in Ecuador settling in at 5023 meters. We were awe-struck at the beauty of it all.
Upon arriving in Baños, we desired to eat, so we all met up with a group of fellow foreigners and fed our faces for a few minutes (that was impeccable alliteration) and later found a hostel for 8 bucks a night, with mostly shared habitations. This hostel was very pleasant, but we by no means spent a lot of time there. Just in the Baños.
We all discussed together what to do next, and we decided upon exploring our surroundings, which included bungee jumping for some. So we went towards the edge of town, and to a most spectacular bridge overlooking a river that we later rafted in. A few of the group desired risking their lives by falling off a bridge while tied to a bouncing string. But four other chums and myself went exploring down by the river. It was a pleasant walk down to the river, minus the smells. This river is known for being an avenue to deposit the towns’ waste. So the smell, well, is familiar to most of us. Regardless, we adventured fairly far and had a grand time scrambling over rocks by the riverside. Also, we, of course, had to do some rock skipping with perfect skipping stones there and all. We enjoyed this experience. We returned an hour later and watched a few of our crew risk their lives bungee jumping. And no, I wasn’t too scared to do it. What are you talking about.
Baños de Agua Santa was christened as such because of its natural hot springs, I believe. Seeing as the translation would be baths of holy water. Upon being informed of this, we determinedly went to los baños de Agua Santa to soak and collectively gather an appetite for dinner before going out that night. So, we went, wetted and relaxed ourselves at los baños, and then we found a most delicious restaurant with the best milkshakes I’ve ever had. Afterwards, a few of us went out for an hour or two, took Ecuadorain flag shots (seen below), danced a bit, and then returned to our quaint hostel, mentally prepared for the next morning.
The next morning was just phenomenal, as it included my favorite event yet: rafting. First, however, was breakfast, which was bought from a fruteria (fruit store) in a grand, covered market place. I spent a less than $2.00. While I was buying my breakfast, a rather random lass came up to me asking if I spoke Spanish, I replied in an impeccable accent with impeccable Spanish that I did indeed. We spoke for a few minutes, exchanged numbers, and determined to find each other that night to go dancing! This we did, but before that, our group went rafting! We were informed of a great deal through a local rafting company, $30 per person for over an hour of rafting. Through some great bargaining, some members of our group got that amount down to $22 per person for 3 hours, and they threw in lunch as well. What an incredible experience those next 4-5 hours were. Those hours began with the side-job of placing the three rafts on top of the open-sided truck, seen below. It was a rush! After that, our guide, probably named Jose or Juan (I can’t recall) selected Stephen (a friend from Idaho) and myself to be the captains of our ship. We took this seriously and with the upmost responsibility. Or, at least Stephen did. We were on the river for a little over 2 and a half hours, and I absolutely lost my voice. I had to keep my team informed and command them in order to win and keep them safe, after all. We finished this grand adventure up with that delicious lunch of fresh caught trout, rice, verdes or ”patacones,” and juice. I loved every second of this Saturday morning and afternoon. It was terrific.
Our group of now 10 persons returned to our hostel with plans of returning to Quito. All but four of us remained to continue with our Baños adventures, so we did. None of us had cameras, however, so this is where your visual experience ends.
Anyhow, the fantastic four of us still had some energy, so we (Alaitz, Lizzie, Myself, and Stephen) left to go on a gorgeous hiking trail that overlooked the meduim sized town of Baños. The views were just spectacular. My favorite part of the hike happened when I found a natural whip-like object made of a plant similar to bamboo of about 4 meters. Worked wonders on my slaves, quickly bringing them back down the 2 mile trail to our hostel to rest for a bit before again going out in Baños to dine and dance. This night included for me dancing salsa and speaking Spanish until 3:30am with the girl I had met earlier. Her name was Diana and as it turned out, was from Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador, and also the location of birth of our dear Eric. Not a soul knew at this time, but this girl was soon to be an emotional and odd romantic lover who was nuts, and not the good almond kind, either. I was just exhausted and by 3:45 I finally made my way back to the hostel. The four of us explorers arose at 8:30 the next morning expecting to finish off the last day in Baños with a bang. We went to the same market, met Diana, and ate a native dish called Tigrillo. It is a blend of platano, eggs, usually cheese, and spices, if you’re lucky. It’s delectible and incredibly filling. After our breakfast, we said goodbye to Diana, and then left to go rent bicycles! We each paid a fiver ($5) for daily rental and took off on the main highway heading east towards the jungle. Thankfully, the route was primarily uphill so we didn’t get too exhausted. The views down from the steep hill-side highway were stunning. At the end of this bike experience, we ran into a man offering to take us by chiva (the same thing we went in to go rafting) to an awesome waterfall. Sure enough, we took the offer and were soon enough in front of a roaring and wildly rushing waterfall. This was absolutely a phenomenal experience. After seeing that beautiful force of nature, we put our bikes on the chiva and got a ride all the way back to Baños, thank God.
Then, we purchased bus tickets to get back to Quito and roughly four hours later, found ourselves in Quito. Funny how that works out every time!
Anyhow, here are your visual feeds. Check out the following photos of this adventure:
And that was Baños. Dude, we had an ill time there. Well over $1000 was spent in Baños by the lot of us. That’s a significant contribution to the community. What a neat effect tourism has. Anyways, yet again, I shall return to Baños de Agua Santa.
Now, go have a holy water bath to commemorate this entry.