. The real kids ( dads ) and teenagers rented quads and doned the bright yellow or orange helmets and rattled their way up and down the main streets impressing their followers....even Spider-Man made an appearance on Saturday posing for pics and handing out high fives with the jaw dropped kids who had one hand hanging onto mom and the other inching out to high five their super hero. Taffy madness was at its peak this weekend with every corner stand pulling their arms off making stacks and stacks of the sweet treat no one seemed to be able to get enough of. We had a sneak peak for a few minutes of Sunday mass and were lucky to hear the choir and witness a very devoted attentive crowd paying their respects in the impressive church.
On our previous visit we had done numerous hikes, rented bikes and zip lined around the countryside so this time we decided to rent a jeep and tour the mountainous backroads. When your standing on mainstreet looking up at the incredily steep mountains you see greenhouses on slopes for goats and shacks and houses jutting out of nowhere. We wanted to see who the folks are that live and work the hills in such difficult and precarious surroundings. So, with a rudimentary map in hand we jumped into the Suzuki four wheel and headed up to start at the communication towers where we left off on foot the last time here. We soon peak at the first ridge making our way towards the next "village" and come across a few horses. We've got an apple and decide to share only to discover this trio have either never had an offering of apple or simply just don't like apples, go figure. We pass farms growing steep greenhouse tomatoes and hillsides of potatoes, the sounds of pigs who know they are nearing their way to market, abandoned ramshackle houses and shacks from ventures cut short and an entrepreneur who thought, just build the shack offer "rooms" and cervezas and the people will come ( just not quite yet )
. Marg patrols a few washouts before we move upward and onward eventually succumbing to the pea soup fog, narrowing "road" and the god dam rudimentary map that doesn't pan out this time. When you come to a fork in the road, take it as they say, so we turn right and make our way slowly back through more unchartered countryside passing beautiful small mountain farms, awesome views and eventually wind our way down through even more greenhouse territory ending up thirty km or so south of Banos. A great glimpse into the mountainous region of farmers around Banos.
Our final foray in Ecuador will be a ten day trip to the Galapagos. Make hay while the sun shines as they say. No package cruises for us though as we plan on "winging" it and doing our own version of island hopping. Hard to believe its been nearly three months on the road, it's been a blast and we are looking forward to taking in the moonscapes and worlds biggest outdoor aquarium in the Galapagos to finish up. Heh it looks like the cherry blossoms are out and the sun is winning the weather battle at home :)
When we left Banos the first time we had the feeling we might not be back in this area again and couldn't stop looking out the bus window as Banos slowly disappeared from view. Many great times and memories in such a beautiful spot with so much to offer amongst such friendly folks. So here we are again hunkered down for the Easter weekend making plans for our final foray in Ecuador. We added a hike we had not done up the zillion stairs to yet another gorgeous view of the valley, waterfall laden gorge and town. The lazy days of the Pacific reminded us how to much cerveza and to little exercise could catch up to you on the sixth of nine sets of vertical steps. Easter weekend is one of the busiest and most celebrated of the year and Banos is full to the brim with weekend worshipers and families ready to have a good time. The most popular events for the kids are the wooden horses they get to sit on in the town square and pose for a $1 photo, the "rhino" train of eight or ten lit up decorated rhino cars loaded with kids, blaring techno music and doing the circuit of town, and the real ponies with slightly older kids doing the walking tour around the ouskirts of town