Thursday, May 19, 2016

Cotopaxi to Banos: travel and settle in

For our last few days in Ecuador, we decided to head to the warmer and more tropical town of Banos. (There is supposed to be a tilde over the "n" in Banos but I can't figure out how to make Blogger do it.)

We said goodbye to our llama friends at Secret Garden

and shared a pickup truck ride to the town of Machachi with a few other departing Secret Garden Cotopaxi guests.  From Machachi, we somehow managed to catch the correct bus to Banos, although there were some moments of doubt, since our Spanish wasn't as good as we thought.

On the bus to Banos.
 After about 3 hours on a Wi-Fi enabled and very comfortable bus, we arrived in town and walked to our hotel.

La Floresta hotel, a very nice hotel on the edge of Banos but within walking distance to everything.

Our room is the one with the hammock on the balcony on the second floor to the right of the bamboo tree. A nice location!

The room was too big for us, but the Internet said that's all that was left.  I'm pretty sure the hotel was not nearly at full occupancy, but a splurge at the end of the vacation was not against our rules.

After a little down time, we ventured out to check out the town and find something to eat.
We could have stayed here!

And we could have eaten here!

There were a variety of street foods on display.
 We settled on a place that Lonely Planet said had good authentic Ecuadorian dishes.  Oh boy were they authentic.
I'm just pretending to eat the chicken parts that were floating in my soup.

The fish was good, once you got past the scales and eyes.
 Drew didn't have much to eat because everything had meat in it, so he was OK stopping at la panaderia (bakery).
I'd been too long without American doughnuts. This giant, bread-y and not sweet enough doughnut-like creation made me happy.
 We had a few hours before dark so we decided to go for a hike across the big river and up into a less-populated area.  One attraction on this bridge is to jump off tethered to a bungee cord. Lots of people we loitering about on the bridge and one woman was getting talked into jumping by a man. We walked a little farther and were taking in the view from afar when she finally jumped.

The tiny red speck in front of the zig-zag scaffolding below the bridge is the jumper.  I don't know if she didn't jump correctly or if the bungee cord is not very stretchy, but she bounced, hard.  I'm pretty sure she has back problems now.
 The goal of our hike was to see Tungurahua volcano behind the town. Shop keepers said there had been a pretty significant eruption a few months prior, but the mountain was quiet now.

The city of Banos and Tungurahua volcano in the background.

Obligatory geology picture.  I think this is low grade metamorphism.  

Obligatory happy couple picture. This might be on the Christmas card too.
 There was supposedly a trail that would take us on a loop back to town, but we couldn't find it, so we backtracked on the paved road in time to grab some pizza and beer. 
We searched high and low for a restaurant that had microbrew beer.  The menu at this place said they did, but when I ordered, the waiter said they were out.  My disappointed and border-line angry expression prompted him to run out to a store or different restaurant and get some for me.  We tipped him well.
Our first impressions of Banos were that the town is a lot more touristy than other places we had been but it has an air of adventure. Another full day would tell if those impressions were correct.

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