Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Baños – Relaxing in beautiful surroundings

Waterfall in Baños
Originally uploaded by Henrik & Barbara.
For Barbara, Baños was going to be the prize of the really tough times she had trekking in the surroundings of Latacunga. Baños means bath. And that’s for a reason! Inside the city area you find several thermal baths – some of these with temperatures reaching 50 degrees. Could life be any sweeter? Yes it could… After looking into the pools, Barbara realised that her Brazilian-sized bikini in no way could match the local Ecuadorian-sized bathing suits so…. she ran away.

93% of the locals in Baños make their income of the tourists. The place is loaded with gringo-friendly diners and infinite options for rafting, climbing, down-hill mountain-biking, horse riding etc. Too many options to choose from – so we picked the unobvious: Relaxed and did nothing for three whole days. We really felt like just enjoying that this is actually a vacation :o)

By coincidence we ran into some of the same friendly people as we met in Latacunga, the Dutch guy (Ramon) and the Belgian couple (Veronique and Filip). We had a great get-together with them….starting with a nice calm dinner and ending at a loud energetic bar in a mixture of Salsa lessons, cocktails in every thinkable shape, Indian hand shakes and lots of stories.
We didn’t have any plans for the next day (at least – we ended up choosing so) but Veronique and Filip were going on a 5 hour hike the next morning, poor them. :o)

Despite Baños’ beautiful location surrounded by tree-covered Andean mountains and waterfalls, it is not entirely a paradise. Next to Baños you will find the volcano Tungurahua which is a permanent threat to the city. The volcano had a major eruption in 1999 which forced an evacuation of Baños. Again this year in mid-July and mid-August, a part of Baños was evacuated when lava started flooding from the crater.
These days they are talking about new possible eruptions, but from what we could see, it is reduced to white steam and a little black smoke. As for now…

After having some quiet days, we headed to Riobamba. Riobamba is really not the most interesting place in Ecuador. It is quite clear that it is a path-through city for tourists going on the famous train ride down the Devils Nose. We arrived today, had the usual almuerzo and well… are now waiting for the day to end.
About the almuerzo by the way: The almuerzo is the cheapest lunch (or dinner) solution you will find in Ecuador (1,25 - 1,50 US$). It usually consists of a large bowl of soup, a plate of rice, chicken, corn swept in mayonnaise, a glass of juice, some pop corn… and sometimes dessert. There are variations of this dish, but after 12 days in Ecuador, we are not too fond of chicken and rice anymore…
Tomorrow morning we will do as all the other gringos in town, - find a good seat on the roof of the train and head down the Devils Nose.


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