Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Baños

Not only Pablo took us to "Parque El Cajas", gave us a place to sleep, took us to his son's party and gave me a pair of trousers that he no longer used, he drove us to the town of Azogues saving us some 30 km of the way .

Pablo's shift started at 8 so we left his flat at 7 and by 7:45 we'd already found our first ride and we were going to Cañar. After that, we went to Zhud which is where to road slipts: to the left to Guayaqui and straight to Quito. Here, we rode in the back of a pickup to Ambato. Riding in the back of pickups is nicer when it's warm and not at 4000m. At least it wasn't Romania-style cold (subzero temperatures). 

A small ride to the exit of Ambato and my second time hitchhiking a taxi going to Pelileo. We hadn't been waiting for long when a couple stopped and agreed to take us to Baños de Agua Santa (or just Baños). They were going to Puyo in the Ecuadorian Amanzon and back to Pelileo. I asked if we could ride with them and take us back... 


The almost nothing I know about the Amazon is from TV and cinema. They show Amazonian towns (mostly in the Brazilian Amazon) to be small, dirty and dangerous. Puyo was like that. We didn't walk around a lot for two reasons: we only had 30 minutes before the couple would pick us up again and, didn't look quite safe to be walking around with all your shit with you.


We got to Baños and we started for a place to sleep. We went to the church but Sunday mass was just starting. I saw a girl sitting by the entrance. Next option was to ask in the firestation but they turned us down, for a change. We walked back to the church and waited for mass to finish. The girl stood up and walked inside when mass was over. I thought she was a traveller also waiting to ask the priest for a place to stay we we went inside behind her Paula asked her something and it turned out that Olga is Polish. Blablabla in Polish and they exchanged handy numbers. She was waiting for her ride back to Quito, leaving us a clear way to ask the priest. We stayed 4 nights in total in one of the catechesis rooms.


Baños reminded me of Panajachel: lots of souvernir shops, travel agencies and tourists (including yours truly). You couldn't walk without being offered a tour or a hotel room. Baños is set on the base of the Tungurahua volcano (more than 5000 meters) but you cannot see it because it's behind a mountain that is between town and the volcano.


Baños is not very big and it's very thin. Only a few streets wide and that's it. On the East side there is a rive in the bottom of a canyon and even though is inside the city, if you go there you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, far away from town. Ok, there's a bridge linking the two sides but the place we used to sit it was about 50 meters below and the sound of the river was very loud so no car could be heard. Oh! and also the occasional bungee jumper.


Contrary to what I thought, despite the fact that Baños being extremely touristy, it wasn't that expensive. Not that it was cheap, but not as expensive as I thought it would be. In fact, Ecuador is not as cheap as people told me before going. Cheaper than Colombia is it. Or is it that I'm just extremely poor and/or cheap?


The only disadvantage I see when you stay in a church is that you don't have a kitchen or a shower. It was chilly so the shower problem solved itself, but the kitchen...

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