Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Banos Wrap Up

I'm still recording our time in Banos, which happened Saturday evening to Monday early afternoon. There was sooooo much to see and do there, and it was a bit of a different experience than our time in Quito. It was much hotter- most of us got sunburnt, and were really struggling a bit with the heat and humidity. Most of our time in Ecuador is being spent in Quito, which is higher up in the mountains, and not at all hot. In Quito we are wearing layers- pants, long sleeved shirts, maybe a sweater. Well, definitely a sweater or a jacket by sunset. And it rains occasionally.

In Banos, we stayed in a beautiful series of cabins right alongside the hills, and just to the left of a volcano.

The view was so spectacular, the smells so fresh. I felt weepy on Monday morning, our last partial day there. I felt like my soul had been opened, and I'd gotten in touch with some of my sadness, but in a good and healthy, restorative way. But I'm already ahead of myself. I want to record Sunday..... Tomorrow is Wednesday already, and I'm still trying to keep Sunday and Monday in my mind so I won't forget it, and I won't neglect to record it here.

Unfortunately, the wifi connection in Banos was nearly impossible, it was so slow and unreliable. So it was hard to write down my thoughts and pair them with pictures, when my little circle thingie just went round and round and round again without actually connecting.


On Sunday morning, we all walked into town- about a fifteen minute walk from our Hosteria. I snapped this photo because of the way people park here. The streets are often quite narrow, so the sidewalk gets incorporated.

And did I mention that sometimes the sidewalks are quite narrow as well?!

The streets are very busy, as people live outdoors here. (I love that). Sometimes the backs of trucks are filled with children.

There are roadside "shops" everywhere, constantly. They seem to sell things in groups- for example, this sidewalk is lined with vendors selling fresh squeezed sugar cane juice. Every few feet there will be another one of these machines, and another bottle of cane extract.



The first place we went to on Sunday morning was the zoo. I didn't care that much for the animals, which were few, but I was endlessly fascinated by the people.

This zoo was build on the side of a steep ravine, and had stairs all over the entire zoo, going up and down, and leading to various enclosures. Because it was Sunday, many of the mountain people were down in the city, dressed in their finest. Many of the women were wearing heels, while we Canadians puffed our way through the heat in proper running shoes. They made it look effortless.


Next we walked up the roadway to a zipline.

A metal basket carried people high, high above a river in a ravine.

See that wire stretching out towards the other side?

That's Paul, our leader of awesomeness.

See the edge of the green basket? I'm in there, riding back to the other side. I never intended on ziplining, although now I kind of wonder if I should have. It looked pretty amazing.

Of course, it was a freakishly long ways down.

After the cooking hot walk into town, the steep stairway laden trip into the zoo, and the walk uphill to go to the zip line, we decided to catch public transit back to the center of the city.

It cost $0.25.

When we arrived back into the center, it was high time to visit the loo. Bathrooms here are a little different than back home.

They're clean, and that's nice. This particular Banos public toilet was missing the seat, so I was glad I had done a little time on the treadmill so that squatting wouldn't entirely kill me.

Here's how it works: you approach the bathroom. A woman or man is standing there, handing out small helpings of toilet paper. You ask "quantos?" which means; "How much?" to which they'll tell you .25 or .50 or something like that. You'll hand over your change, they'll give you the tp, you go off to the stalls. You don't flush tp here, it goes in the garbage because their sewers can't handle the paper.

So the potty can smell just a little fresh at times.

Moving on.

Street food is amazing.

People on the streets are amazing.






I notice that the women carry their babies. There aren't a lot of strollers or snugglies here, although when the child gets bigger, the mamas tie them onto their backs using a blanket or a scarf. (remember how hot I said it was?!)


It is Palm Sunday, and many of the women are carrying around herbs and flowers.



The children are unbelievably beautiful.

As are the old ladies.





There are always people selling things. A box of candy, some gum, even a single cigarette. This lady was asking for .25 for anything in her box. An inflated price by any standard, but I bought one anyway.

People here essentially live outdoors, milling around in the city squares, chatting with one another, selling stuff, buying stuff.

There was some gorgeous stuff for sale. Good thing they didn't have my size in these.

It was hot in Banos. I foolishly left my sunscreen behind in Quito, since I hadn't needed it at all in the days we spent there.



There are many dogs in Ecuador. I'm happy to see that this one has an owner, as many of them appear to be feral, just scrounging around for their survival.

Some of the dogs protect people's property. This German Shepherd leapt up right behind Brian as we were walking by and barked in his ear. Not so good for the old man's ticker.


One of many teeny shops along the sidewalk. I asked him for permission to photograph inside.

Now you know why.

Cervesa here is a dollar or two. It can be purchased at many of the little shops that run all along the edge of the sidewalk. On our walk back to the hotel after the long, hot day of walking in Banos, Brian stopped here and bought us two cold beers.


Families here appear to be quite affectionate and close knit.

The porch on the front of this home juts straight out into what used to be the sidewalk.

Do you apply for a variance for that sort of thing?!

It was hard to say good-bye to the view and the room, and the city of Banos.

Our hosts were gracious, and calm, lovely people who spoke English very well. That was a treat because it allowed me to ask some questions.

On Monday morning before we headed back onto the bus for our three hour trip back to Quito, I decided to take in the spa at our hotel. I'm really not a spa kind of gal, but this country isn't exactly typical, and the girls coming out of the steam bath were saying very positive things, so I thought I should challenge myself just a little. I'd said no to the zip line and the swing jump, and didn't want to go home with regrets.

I'll never regret the steam bath, bathing suit and all. It was a deep, spiritual experience that I hope to write about some time soon. For now, I think I'll unlock the ancient door to my room, back here in the conquistador's mansion and get some sleep.

Tomorrow, its off to Otovalo!