Under the ´weather´ in Baños

Trip Start Nov 24, 2007
Trip End May 15, 2008

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Saturday, December 15, 2007

     After a week and and half of venturing north to south in the beautiful Oriente region of Ecuador in which we encountered great people, 'less joyful' people, tasted amazing food, saw spectacular scenery and enjoyed the best of weather while doing so. We have decided to leave it behind (including the humidity) as the path beckons us and we headed back west to see the great things that the central highlands region of Ecuador has to offer. Unfortunately, we also left behind the nice weather.

From Tena we traveled by bus to Puyo and on through the gorgeous Pastaza Valley to Baņos. Baņos is a quaint little town beautifully nestled in a steep cliff-like valley amid towering volcanoes. It's pretty. It's unique. It's well touristy. It also has a lot to offer. The town itself is very clean, has extremely wide sidewalks, a welcoming change, quite colorful and hence the name, is famous for its therapeutic mineral hot springs - Baņos.

The difference between Baņos and other Ecuadorian towns is that instead of panaderias (bread shops), fruterias (fruit stands) and kioskos lining the streets, they are replaced by a plethora of tourist shops selling authentic Andean regalia, funky restaurants (as opposed to basic ones) and sketchy looking tour agencies that come equipped with high pressure touts offering numerous ītourist deals` for a special price. Needless to say, I was a bit mixed up and a little part of me preferred Lago Agrio. I like real.

We opted to refrain from doing any so-called adventure trips which Baņos is somewhat well-known for and thought it better to make it a time to catch up on things, not spend as much money as we had been doing and do more relaxing in the hot pools than anything. The bad weather helped. After going on a short jaunt above town and visiting an extremely depressing zoo that I recommend nobody visit unless they wish to feel inhumane just for passing through the gates and paying the rediculous $1 to do so and support the cause, we spent the rest of the day walking about, eating taffy, sucking on fresh cut sugar cane and catching up on internet stuff.

Just a side note. The zoo had some amazing animals including the puma, ocelot, jaguarandi, cougar, capibara, condor and parrot to name a few, but their cages/pens as I will call them were extremely small and more often than not, they did a bad job recreating the true natural habitat that they live in. Not even close. Mountain Lions frankly just don't instinctually live near cement and lawn grass. It was cool to see some amazing animals up close but on the other hand, sad to see them in such a bleak state. Especially when we later found out that many are not disabled were captured by locals and then found by the park service. Instead of adapting them to return to the wild they were deemed unsuitable to return sent to the zoo (bought and sold by rich land barons) even though many could have easily returned according to an old time national park officer that we later talked to. According to him, the man in charge finds it better to put them in zoos for the public rather than let them go. I guess it brings in money.

Late that night and the following day I was greeted by the stomach sickness fairy and spent the better part of the next 30 hours purging my system from both ends and toying with the idea of jumping off a cliff. I guess the monkeys much have ransacked the guys store in Tena and shit on the floor. Karma coming back to me. Meanwhile, Maya finished, 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Poenix' later entering a state of withdrawal from her magical prince. We decided to wait no longer and off for Riobamba. Pepto in hand...
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