Banos day 2, we had such great plans…

Today started brilliantly, with a delicious breakfast on the roof terrace of our hostel. I had fresh fruit with homemade yogurt, granola & cane syrup, coffee, and fresh passion fruit juice. Matt had pancakes and coffee. Neither of us finished our meals. Here is where we were: (!!)

We were finished on the roof by about 09:00 or so, at which point we attempted to confirm our Galapagos plans. Seriously, this got ridiculous, with our agent telling us she’d be sending something momentarily, us waiting a while, waiting longer, finally calling, only to hear she’d send it immediately, followed by something else that had to be replied to immediately or else, which we’d then wait and wait for, etc. so we had to sit in our room waiting for each thing, calling her, “oh yes, I haven’t sent it yet…” aaaaaack! We asked if we could reply later so that we could enjoy our day, but she said no, each thing needed to be immediately dealt with. At 14:00 we finally told her that we HAD to leave (I was going to hunt someone down and kill them if I had to sit any longer in my hostel room), and she sent everything through and got it sorted within an hour. Our entire day:

The plan had been to go to El Salado, the swimming pools apparently favored by locals, about 2.5 km from town. They supposedly closed at 16:30. We were skeptical that we’d get there in time, but we decided to walk rather than bus or taxi because we needed to relax.

The walk was great. We followed the street our hostel is on back through town and out the other side, past the cemetery. Some time after that, the road continued on but a small track led off it and a wooden bridge crossed a stream. There were no markers, but the Lonely Planet had described this a little. Anyway, it looked intriguing, so we followed it.

On the other side, we climbed rough stairs up to the road from town, and continued up. Vendors began to appear along the road, so we figured we might be on the right track.

Indeed, we got to the pools at about 16:00. The man explained to us that they would begin draining them at 16:30, but Matt wisely said that was fine, paid up, and we went in. There was only one other gringo there, and a good variety of pools. The warm and hot ones were muddy but felt great. The old ones were clear, and we stayed away from them. There were, for each temperature, shaded and sunny possibilities. There were hot and cold massage streams. The hot places were a little crowded, but we squeezed in to one of the shaded ones, finding a spot at the edge.

After a while, an old man started up a conversation with Matt, which I translated badly. He was really sweet, and his son, about our age, made assistive additional translations, my bad Spanish for better Spanish, from the other side of the pool. This was pleasant and went on until we were all kicked out of that pool for draining. We went to a medium-temperature pool that hadn’t been drained, and continued to lounge until that began to be drained, at which point I went to check out he warm massage stream, which finally had a space available. Matt got kicked out, we got dressed, and I took a picture of the now-empty baths while we were leaving.

It was definitely later than 16:30 by this point, and we were hungry, having missed lunch. I tried to buy some ceviche de chocho, which had been recommended to me, but the vendor was all out, so we bought some sugar cane for the hike back to town.

Matt was pretty hungry, though, so when we got into town we got ice cream cones before dropping our swimsuits back at the room. Then we went to the Stray Dog Brew Pub to try the local micro-brews.

I had the Gold, and Matt had the Red. Then we started talking to Melissa, a neurobiologist from California here working on a 5-month sabbatical, and I had the Stout while Matt tried the IPA (not listed on the menu; and the Mora was out). Then we all had a 3rd round of what we’d liked best. And then we were drunk.

We went to Cafe Hood for dinner, which had the outside style of an Amsterdam coffee shop, but the coziness of good expat places anywhere. Matt said he felt very happy there.

In this picture, he is explaining why, but he was kind of drunk and it wasn’t entirely clear.

The food was great. I am at a loss to describe what I ate, but it involved: hominy, sweet-potato cakes filled with cheese, grated beets, salad and avocados with a peppery dressing, fried eggs and a really spicy fresh salsa that I kept dumping on it. Yum! Ok, I described it, but I’m sure I didn’t do it justice.

We are on the terrace of the hostel now, and there is occasional thunder and lightning. I’ve felt a few drops of rain. Tomorrow we are going canyoning, which is rappelling down waterfalls. It probably won’t matter if it rains. 🙂

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