Trip Start Nov 15, 2008
Trip End Jun 15, 2009

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

14/12/08 - 16/12/08

We only had one full day in Rio Verde, and Dave and I had decided to go cannoning.  It was something we had never done, but had heard so many good things about it we thought it was about time we tried it.  There were seven of us who were going and we all got dressed in to a wet suit, helmet and rock climbing gear, basically we looked ridiculous! (The rock climbing gear included a yellow butt protector part that made us all look as though we had dippers on.)  The cannoning involved climbing, jumping and abseiling down several waterfalls in the middle of a rain forest.  It was very beautiful, and was fun, but just not what I or Dave had expected.  Would we do it again, probably not.
After the cannoning we went into Banos, the main town near Rio Verde.  It is famous for its hot springs, taffy and location next to an active volcano.  Thankfully the volcano was behaving, so we enjoyed a night in the hot springs.  The water was really hot, but there was a cold pool and some showers to cool off in between.  The springs are very popular with the locals, and were very packed, we were lucky to fit.  There must have been something wrong with us though as none of the locals seemed to want to get too close to us 'gringos'.  Where they were all packed in next to each other we seemed to have about a meter of space surrounding us!  That night everyone enjoyed a few drinks, and I brought myself a nice carton of Clos (cheap red wine)!  Basically there was a bon fire, a new drink named Beljozzie (a mix of coke beer and vodka, it tasted good at 3am) and drunken talk on politics, yes probably should have gone to bed before that.
Well much to much to my  amazement, the next day I found out that four hrs of sleep and cheap red wine leads to a hang over, and if you combine a hang over with an Ecuadorian bus driver you get one very sick Laine!  After 2 hrs of hell we had to change buses and roads (thank god) and I was able to sleep for most of the way to Cuenca.  Cuenca is Ecuador's third largest city, and is a very beautiful one.  It is also where they make Panama hats, the name came about as they used to send the hats to panama to ship around the world after being made in Cuenca.  We visited one of the factories and had a fun time trying on some very cool, and some very not cool hats.
Dave and I wandered about the town taking in the sights and Christmas decorations.  We also visited the Pumapungo museum where we got to see shrunken heads!  For lunch we enjoyed some freshly cooked pork that was cut straight from a whole pig, still a very crazy sight.  Nothing else really happened in Cuenca, but we did have a fun silly walk back to the hotel on our last night.  Jacky had apparently learnt a new phrase "Mi Gusta" and wanted to share it with every man who walked past!
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