BaÃ±os, Ecuador: ItÂ´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. BaÃ±os had been recommended by a few folks, and didnÂ´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 60Â´s! After an eventful stay, we head to an incredible jungle botanical garden called Omare.
To start: Hey same bikes!
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.
Welcome to BaÃ±os!
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 donÂ´t qualify. We discussed and agreed that we will often just have to eat in different places.Â 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 didnÂ´t, that extra dollar would pay to patch my pants.
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.
Mary has lived in BaÃ±os 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 60Â´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. ItÂ´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 wouldnÂ´t be hired if it was known they lived in a tent!
They also werenÂ´t privy to the happenings in the world, news didnÂ´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!
We had all been having some stiomach discomfort of late, and were due for some anti-parasite meds.
Mary makes handmade soaps and lotions. Great stuff!
Took a ride up to the local hot springs. Only a short ride but it seemed almost everytime you looked the volcano was errupting!
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 BaÃ±os.
In the evening we would reunite with our amigo Tom who came over for burgers. We put him right to work.
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:
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.
Sadly there was one other casualty of the night: my leatherman multi-tool escaped. I donÂ´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 MaryÂ´s suggestion to head off towards the Jungle via Puyo.
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 didnÂ´t quite know how to get there, but in the end concensus was: fantastic stop!
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!
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!