Baños, Ecuador: It´s not a bathroom, but we sure vomited in it. Bonus: Volcano erruptions!!

Baños, Ecuador: It´s not a bathroom, but we sure vomited in it. Bonus: Volcano erruptions!!

The mountain roads through Ecuador proved excellent. Quality tarmac with lots of bends and great scenery. Baños had been recommended by a few folks, and didn´t dissapoint. For starters, the nearby Tungurahua volcano was having a fit while we were in town! We stayed with Mary, who had ridden a similar trip to ours on the back of a BMW, only back in the 60´s! After an eventful stay, we head to an incredible jungle botanical garden called Omare.

Late October.

To start: Hey same bikes!

Jayne models a police KLR found in Equador. The officer claimed no modifications to the bike. Either he´s had leg extensions or his suspension is shot.

 

We did encounter a fair bit of construction. A recent push by the government to upgrade roads is welcomed by many locals I spoke to.

One of the many construction traffic “bypasses” we had to make in Ecuador on the way to Baños (and elsewhere). The roads were generally in amazing shape though.

 

Welcome to Baños!

I´m used to being asked for money by folks to “watch my moto”, but there´s a limit. Crutches AND cataracts? You picked the wrong gringo tax business, amiga.

 

Aside from being heartless, I was also a little cranky after my interaction with miss crutchy. This was not improved when the lunch spot chosen by Kelly was a “gringo friendly” cafe. Unfortunately, Kelly and I are simply on different budgets and in different worlds when it comes to priorities on restaurants. Jayne is somewhat in the middle. I can eat cheap and plentiful rice, beans, plantains and meat every meal of the day. The girls cannot, or at least prefer not to.

I ate my small, over-priced sandwich while staring at a bunch of cute stuff on the walls, picked a fight and then left to fill my stomach. Kelly was upset at feeling guilty everytime she wants to eat somewhere “nice”. On the other hand, I eat a substantial amount to fill my skinny frame, and when I have a choice of what to spend my limited budget on: “nice” restaurants simply don´t qualify. We discussed and agreed that we will often just have to eat in different places.  I left to fill my giant stomach with a full meal “comida corriente” for 2.50$, eating where the locals ate. My tiny sandwich had been 3.75$. Yes, that may sounds like a small difference, but it would take 4 sandwiches to match my “comida corriente”. And even if it didn´t, that extra dollar would pay to patch my pants.

Nothing quells the upset like a side of these fried mashed-potoato/cheese pucks. They were easy to find, cheap, and always worth a second helping.

 

While separated, Kelly tried to recharge her phone. She put 5$ on the wrong number, and the unhelpful girl at the tienda was unwilling/ unable to try to recover it. Free credit for someone!

Once reunited, we set off to find Mary, our CouchSurfing host.

Happily Mary´d.

 

Mary has lived in Baños a couple years, and lives basically ON the Volcano, albeit near the bottom.

When she was younger, her boyfriend and her had a debate. He wanted to buy a motorbike; she wanted to go to Argentina. They agreed to do both. Thier trip took placve in the 60´s, and took four years. She told many great stories, my favorite being of him drunkenly burning her jacket one night. Her Jacket which had all their money in it. It´s not like they could just go to a bank or an ATM back then and get more. They had to find jobs and lie about where they lived, since they wouldn´t be hired if it was known they lived in a tent!

They also weren´t privy to the happenings in the world, news didn´t flow as freely and easily those days, and they ended up in Jail in Argentina for a little while during an uprising. I just love meeting other moto travelers and hearing their stories!

 

Inside Marys house, there were wisps of volcano dust to be found all, and reportedly refreshed often.

 

We had all been having some stiomach discomfort of late, and were due for some anti-parasite meds.

We learned in Mexico that every 6 months it´s not a bad plan to take an anti-parisite med to cure what ails the bowels. We were all due.

 

Mary makes handmade soaps and lotions. Great stuff!

Jayne jumped right in to help Mary with her “Natural Mosquito repellant lotion” and soaps.

 

Jaynes finished work.

 

Took a ride up to the local hot springs. Only a short ride but it seemed almost everytime you looked the volcano was errupting!

…All day every day, Volcano spewing ash up abooove me.

 

 

Pool party with Mary, Jayne and Kelly

 

 

Hair nets mandatory. Beards get away free…

 

…or at least they would normally.

 

You´ve got to get dirty if your want to stay warm

 

Nothing like a day at the pool that could be your last.

 

The pool deck was in great shape!

 

From there we walked back through town before the girls had to get back to the house for massages. Spa, massages… tough life for the ladies here in Baños.

The girls errupting with joy

 

 

They were a little quiet, weren´t they Andi?

 

Walls are nice to lean on. Two-toned with a stripe? The best!

 

The girls awaiting on a bridge to nowhere

 

In the evening we would reunite with our amigo Tom who came over for burgers. We put him right to work.

We should have bought shrimp to make him feel at home

 

Post dinner we took a taxi ride up to the lookout over the town. From there we got our first view of REAL LAVA coming from the volcano! There had been debate over riding the bikes up, but the taxi would turn out to have been the best option. Let me rap at you why:

 

Baños, at night…

 

…our stomachs were in for a fright…

 

…while other gringos rode out on their colourful buses…

 

… our burgers flowed back out our esophaguses!

 

Jayne and I were hit almost the same time while up at the look out. We required several stops on the way home. Kelly was the last hit. Thankfully Mary (and Tom) were spared the wrath of the homemade burgers.

 

I do sometimes get photo´s of EVERYTHING.

Sadly there was one other casualty of the night: my leatherman multi-tool escaped. I don´t know where, but I would spend the following weeks constantly borrowing Jayne or Toms. Tough loss, tough to replace.

In the morning, all recovered, we met in the square and took Mary´s suggestion to head off towards the Jungle via Puyo.

Cataract crutchy didn´t make another appearance. Smart lady.

 

Jayne and Tom drafting the bus to the Jungle

 

a tun-nel of fun!

 

We got to enjoy much of the twisty road to Puyo before the rain started.

 

Mary had recomended a stop at a unique botanical garden. A touch of resistance was felt since it was getting late in the day and i didn´t quite know how to get there, but in the end concensus was: fantastic stop!

Omaere botanical park.

 

Our incredibly knowledgeable guide Chris gives us a synopsis undercover before the rain starts. Married to a native Amazonian, he would enlighten us to all the powerful plants of the amazon, and the cultures of those who live(d) there.

 

Our walk through the garden, trying to dodge the intermittant rain under the occasional huge leaves. This plant had something to do with a cat.

 

This is a 16 year old cedar, used for hollowed out canoes (it needs a little more time). I´m shirtless like the natives so I´ll dry faster when the rain stops. I decided against tucking my penis into a waist string however.

 

Sinus alleviating plant. Jayne would buy a bottle of its extract, but sadly later leave it at the restaurant. It worked well too!

 

While it REALLY poured outside, Chris taught Tom (our eldest Male) how to defend the house. Dark inside, with gaps in the wall slats, would be attackers can´t see in, but Tom and his spear could see out.

Chris also told us of the wife selection process, starting when the girl is 6! The man moves in with the family, and essentially helps to raise his future wife. Since he raised her, they have fewer disagreements. When she is of age, they move out together, and if he is a good providing husband, he may marry all her sisters too!

 

A precurser to the natural plant based paint job the girls would get on our Jungle trip. You are in for a treat!

 

instead of painting my face, I waged war on the arm bites I´ve had since PANAMA! It helped, but didn´t cure. (more on these in a future post)

 

Another preview: Ayahuasca vine in its natural state

 

14 months vs. 32 years.

 

an inginious set-up for hands-free jungle handwashing!

 

Out of bricks to build your forest path? Have bottles? Problem solved!

 

Want to capture rain water for handwashing, but don´t want the standing-water-associated mosquitoes? Add a fish. No joke. The fish in there (tough to see) eats nothing but mosquito larvae. They´ve never had to give it fish food!

Our tour lasted a couple hours, eating a touch into our daylight, but so very well worth it. More than just a garden tour, we learned all about the cultures as well. Really got us excited for a trek into the Jungle!

Now off to the Amazon!