Saturday, July 21, 2012

The baths at Banos

Thursday We stayed at the somewhat seedy hotel in Ambato, but it had the most comfortable bed we have found in Ecuador, with a heavy quilt to keep us toasty.  We had breakfast at C'bastian's.  I had a waffle with yogurt and honey, no butter, no syrup.  Even the waffles are a healthier version.  Ron had huevas rancheros, but when it came, it looked like French onion soup.  After breakfast we took a taxi to the bus stop to take a bus to Quizapincha, where they supposedly make a lot of the leather goods that are sold in Cotacachi. I tried on a few leather jackets, but they were made for the smaller Ecuadorean people and felt tight, not comfortable.  And the prices were much more than the guidebook had promised.  I did see a bag that I liked, mainly because it had a woven pattern that was similar to the bedspread on our bed in the condo.  At the same shop I saw a pair of sandals that were only $13.  The owner sold us the bag and the sandals for $22.  We then hopped a bus back to Ambato. We thought we would go from Ambato to Tena, but I started reading about Banos, a town on the way to Tena.  There are many mineral baths in Banos, heated by the nearby volcano which is only 5 miles away to the south.  The guidebook advised to check the status of the volcano before going there since there is a risk of another eruption.  I ignored that advice and we got off the bus in Banos.  Found a lovely hostel, Isle de la Banos, just blocks from the mineral springs.  There was a restaurant, Cafe Hood, where we went for lunch.  I had yet another great burrito, with some of the worlds best guacamole.  Ron had enchiladas and claimed they were the best he had ever eaten. Plus he ordered a drink that was hot passion fruit juice with the local cane liquor.  Oooh, it was delicious!  We strolled around the pretty park and took some photos, then went back to our room until time to go to the hot pools around 7 pm.  we watched the US national team play Great Britain and win.  I saw my boy, James Harden, playing with all the big-time stars. As soon as it was dark, we walked the few blocks to the baths.  We paid the "tercera erad" or senior rate so it was $1.50 each.  It was really crowded, mostly with locals, but felt wonderful.  There was a light drizzle falling, but the water was like a hot, hot bath, with steam rising into the cool air.  We left that pool and went to the pool that was "medium" hot, but right under the waterfall.  What a treat.   Am so glad we stayed in Banos.  It is a lovely town and there are quite q few ex-pats living there.  Our hostel is owned by a German, and we saw many restaurants that cater to foreigners. Watched The Big Bang Theory and went to sleep in a hard, firm bed with another of those heavy quilts that kept us warm.
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