I spent the last weekend in Baños with eleven of the other teachers. I don’t normally like to travel in large groups, but it’s hard not to because all of my coworkers are so awesome! Seriously, all great, adventurous, kind, passionate, funny people. What’s not to love?

So twelve of us met at the Quitumbe bus terminal and caught a bus together to Baños Friday night, arriving there around ten (3 and a half hour bus ride). We checked into the hostel, downed a bottle of rum, and went straight out dancing. One of my friends lived there this summer, so she took us to some great places. Baños is a lot safer than Quito, so I felt like I was able to let go of my inhibitions and just have fun, without fearing that someone would steal my phone or wallet. It was nice to be able to walk around the streets late at night and not feel paranoid.

The next day, after a huge breakfast to get over the hangover hurdle, we rented bikes for 5 bucks a piece. There is a 30 km bike ride down hill from the cloud forest into the rainforest. It was a long, but relatively easy ride, with some really beautiful views and adventure sports along the way.
About to leave Baños

Taking a breather in the valley where we were riding

We stopped to ride a cable car over a valley as a group. Exhilarating ride was $1.50 a person (remember, the currency here is the US dollar). They had a car engine turning the ropes and propelling the cable car. A man with a little boy jumped on at the last minute and asked the operator, “peligroso?” She just shrugged him off, “no, no, no.” Pssh, yeah right.
 This just can't be safe, especially not for $1.50

So lucky that my roommate is a like-minded goof

When the bike ride ended in a small town, we were able to hike 1 km down the side of a cliff into a cove with the most EPIC waterfall. It was really powerful, spilling over a cliff side in the jungle, onto the smooth rocks below. We couldn’t go swimming anywhere near it, but we could climb in a carved out slippery tunnel to the very top of the waterfall and get hit by the mist.

 The group at the base of the waterfall
Photo cred: Tamara Fernandez

 Seb coming out of the teeny tunnel
I don’t have a photo of what we did that night, but man was it a crazy experiences. Baños is famous for its hot baths, which are big public pools of hot water. Really, really hot water. We paid the three bucks to get in, then had the scary realization that these pools were packed so tight that Ecuadorians were practically sitting on each other. What did we do? Joined the pool party.
My second day in Baños I took it easy. We really wanted to go bridge jumping, but I guess that will have to wait until next time because I ended up going with a friend to get massages, pedicures, and facials instead. 30 bucks each for 90 minutes of being pampered and rubbed. What a rough life I live. Some shopping at the artisan market, and stew in the local cafeteria, and we were on our way back to Quito.

Mike jumped right in playing chess with the locals in the market!

Mounds of local taffy, mmm mmm sweet

Caldo de Gallina, Llapingachos, and other typical Ecuadorian foods


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