We decided to leave Quito this weekend. I was craving some fresh air and greenery so we headed to a little town called Baños, which means baths, named because of all the thermal pools in the town, heated by the volcano on which the town is built. Everyone who had been to this town recommended it to us, so we decided to check it out ourselves.
I was paranoid on the 3 1/2 bus ride there because of all the stories I´d heard about people´s stuff being stollen on bus rides, so at every stop I was looking out the window to make sure noone was carrying our backpacks. I was especially entertained at the amount of people getting on the bus to sell us stuff. You could buy everything from soft drinks, fruit, chips, icecream to CD´s and DVD´s. It got a bit annoying in the end. The last part of the drive was stunning. We followed a river and saw mountains covered in waterfalls and crops and valleys filed mysteriously with fog.
When we arrived we managed to find a room at the same place as a few girls from school. This was lucky as everywhere seemed to be booked out due to the long weekend. Very quickly, Ryan made friends with a group of Aussie and Kiwi surfers who kept him entertained for our whole stay. That night we went to a very cool little bar where we watched an Andean Folk band and I danced salsa with a small, old Ecuadorian drunk. Then we headed to the Leprechaun Bar where I got more and more tired and frustrated with drunks stepping on my toes.
Sunday was a recovery day and on Monday Ryan and I rented a little buggie. The view on the way was beautiful but the road was bloody scary. There was literally a 300m drop into a gorge. I reminded myself of Nan in the passenger seat, telling Ryan how he should have been driving. It wasn´t until I got to drive that I realised how powerless and hard the bloody thing was to drive. We eventually made it to the Paillon de Diablo (I think this means Devils Pillar). A steep 1 km walk took us down to the bottom of the amazing waterfall. We crossed a suspension bridge (I think they cal them 'suspension' bridges because you aren´t sure if you will make it to the other side without plummeting into the rever below), to get some good destance photos, and then paid a dollar to crawl through a rocky overhang and up to the base of the fall. This was awesome. The volume of water was incredible and we were instantly saturated by the spray. We could even climd a few more stairs to stand behind the wall of water.
I haven´t laughed as much as I did on the buggie ride back in a very long time. This was hilarious. If anyone has seen Dumb and Dumber, you will know what I mean when I say we felt like Lloyd and Harry on the scooter, but instead of being frozen we were dripping wet. As if we weren´t wet enough from the waterfall, the heavens decided to open up and drench us. It was actually a bit scary because on the way back we had to drive through some dark tunnels and the buggie´s lights weren´t working so we thought we were going to get run over by a truck.
I didn´t think we could top the buggie experience but the next day we went rafting. Wow! I´ve been rafting before in Canada and NZ, but this topped them all. Usually most rafting companies start easy on a grade 2 or 3 rapid to get you used to the raft, but these guys threw us literally straight in the deep end onto class 4 rapids. It was awesome. I was the only one with rafting experience, and Ryan was the strongest unit, so we got the front positions. All was running smoothly until about 20 mins before we finished. Our guide steered us straight into a huge rock and the pressure slowly tipped the boat on it´s side. Being the one closest to the rapid, I fell out, but being the stubborn girl i am, i refused to let go. I held on to the raft waiting to be pulled in. Ryan being my buddy, was supposed to be the one to pull me in but instead he sat there looking at me and laughing and the guy behind me had to rescue me. Ryan gave his waterproof camear to one of the kayakers so we managed to get some great photos.
We regretfully left Baños on Wednesday morning because we had to get into Quito to pay the last installment of our next adventure. Galapagos here we come!