WELL I just had one of the most fun weekends since coming to Ecuador.
My friend Christa and I headed out to Baños Saturday morning. We had been planning to leave Friday but Kyle and Kelsey had some friends from Mount Joy in town and we stayed so I could get to hang out with them friday night. It was so cool because most of them knew my cousin and tons of friends from Messiah that went to Donegal or LMH. It`s a small world. Anyways,
Christa and I headed out early because Baños is 4 hours away. When we arrived, we found a sick hostal for 6 bucks a night with a private bathroom and hot water in an ideal location. That`s dinero. Then we headed off to the Piscinas del Virgen (Pools of the Virgin) to check out the volcanic springs. We were thinking about going to some nicer pools that cost more money, but I`m so glad we picked the cheaper place because it was such a cultural experience. The pools are located right at the base of this huge waterfall. There is a freezing pool, an in between one and then one that is hotter than your average hot tub. The weather was gorgeous and sunny and just all around amazing and the pools were PACKED with overweight ecuadorians. It was hilarious. The water looked really sketchy and yellowish but I tried not to think about it. Our friend Mauricio met up with us there. He goes to our school here and was friends with kaelie last semester. It was so good spending the weekend with him there because even though he is fluent in english, he makes us speak spanish with him so we learn. Speaking spanish the whole weekend was so good because I feel like I continue to improve with practice. Although he told me I have an Argentinian accent. He was calling me Che because Argentines always say Yo (which means ¨I¨) like Jo or Cho, and double Ls like llegar they say it like ¨jegar or chegar¨. That is how Che Guevara got his name, instead of his real name Ernesto, because when he was traveling all over South America in his young adulthood some girls in Peru (i think it was peru) told him it was hilarious how he pronounced everything with a Che. I always talk like that. I have no idea where I got it because Mexicans and Hondurans don`t have that accent so I wouldn`t have picked it up there either. Well anyways, (wow I am long-winded today),
So then after the pool for several hours we ran into one of the girls from BCA with her parents, who recommended that we take a taxi to the volcano to see it. It is called Tungarahua and is very active. The last major eruption occurred in August of last year and it crippled the little town of Baños for quite some time. In the little towns at its base outside of Baños, many people were left homeless and when we were driving to it everything was dusty and ashey, but it kind of looked like construction. Turns out it is still the remnants of that eruption. However, the town of Baños has never been destroyed by the volcano. The people of the town attest this to their patron saint, the Virgin of Holy Water. She has supposedly been the one to stop the volcanic eruptions from touching the main town. Because of this, the town has a beautiful church dedicated to her, with a fountain where I watched the townspeople bring huge water bottles and fill them up with this ¨holy¨ water. They stood there washing their children`s hair in it, drinking it, and taking some home to sprinkle in their homes for extra protection. It is just fascinating. Our taxi driver took us to a great spot to see the volcano, and when we arrived there were mushroom clouds coming out of it. This is very normal, and just water vapor, but one rarely has the chance to see it this time of year because of the clouds. It was absolutely incredible watching the smoke come out of this volcano. I took pictures that would just melt your face off, seriously.
So then after eating dinner at this sweet restaurant with swings inside of it, we boarded a chiva and headed out with lots of ecuadorians to the top of a lookout of the city. A chiva is basically a crazy crazy bus. In ecuador they are really popular. It`s painted all these crazy colors and is kind of like a big jeep. The roof has tons of seats on it too, so sometimes there is an actual band that plays up there and sometimes they just blast reggaeton from the HUGE speakers inside of it. And it has all these crazy siren lights… it`s ridiculous. But so funny. So we get up to the top of the mountain and see the whole city of Baños lit up at night. Then they gave us candelazos, a traditional cinnamony hot beverage that is typical to ecua, and had a huge bonfire with guys that danced with fire and did all these crazy tricks and told us not to try them in our own houses, but in the houses of our aunts and grandmas if we wanted. 🙂 when we got back to the town we went to a salsa place and this ecuadorian guy tried to steal my messiah sweatshirt… do not ask me why… and mauricio rescued it! who does that? i don`t know maybe he was just chilly. But mauricio foiled his plan, thankfully.
The next morning we got up early to take a tour of the Baños waterfalls in another Chiva. This was so much fun. It lasted for four hours and we saw tons of cascades that are the biggest things ever, and we also stopped at a famous bridge in Baños where you can do bungee jumping. Now bungee jumping is on my list for life so after debating it I decided to take the plunge! You literally just stand on the edge of this bridge and jump off, right about a white-water-rafter river. It was nuts. I think I can say that it was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. I was the only one out of our whole tourist group who did it! But I`m so glad. Hay que aprovechar todo… or in english, seize the day, more or less.
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and full of adventure. Pictures soon to come…