Papallacta day 1, Thank Goodness for Thermen

Matt got his pocket picked today, as we took the worst way to get a bus to Papallacta possible. Some stupid part of us thought it would be simple enough with our big bags on the metrobus instead of taking the taxi from La Mariscal to Quitumbe bus terminal. Certainly, pickpockets notwithstanding, it’s cheaper, $0.50 vs $10. The downside is that no matter the time of day, the metrobuses are packed, and that means standing with full packs for a very long way, trying not to fall on the people around you. We also thought it was direct, which it was not.

My valuables were inaccessible to thieves short of demanding them with weaponry, but Matt thought his zippered trouser pocket was good enough. Fortunately, his valuables are separated, and it wasn’t his only stash. The thief got 2 of his credit cards, his Dutch ID card, and about $100 of the $300 that we’d just withdrawn. I had the rest. And still do. Anyway, it’s pretty painful, but not the worst that could happen. Passports would have been worse. You can see the offending pocket in this picture we took of him with Derek’s pack, just before we left the hostel.

Anyway, it took forever to get to Quitumbe, and the bus to Papallacta wasn’t very quick either. We though we’d get in by 16:30 at the latest, but instead it wasn’t until 18:30, and we weren’t sure where we were going either. We started walking up hill.

I’m going to spare myself reliving all the details of why this day was horrible, but when we also had trouble with our reservation at the hotel, I lost it. The people at the desk got an earful of crappy Spanish explaining that I had had enough today with this kind of bullshit. We got a room. One of the bigger rooms, I think, but for the price we’d reserved for, $55, vs. what she tried to get off me, $98. Anyway, it’s lovely: king size bed on the upper level with the bathroom, huge shower, and below, a huge natural thermal water hot tub (2 person size) and fireplace.

We didn’t stick around to appreciate it. We headed right up the hill to the main thermen (hot springs/ baths).

We had another minor problem when we got there, but then we got into the water and after that ran into our travel companions from the slow intercity bus, a couple on their first month of a several month adventure. They were fun to hang out with, and we were all loud obnoxious American tourists for a while, which was strangely satisfying.

We were there enjoying the various temperatures in the pools until almost 22:00, then came back down the hill to our place, where we asked for curtains (our windows were missing them), beer, and bottled water, and hit the in-house thermen, also lovely. There’s a big one right outside our door, and a hotter one in a little faux-cave just next to it. Meanwhile, the front desk guy lit our fire and ran our hot tub.

This one must come direct from the hotter spring, unmixed, because even after hanging out in the hotel pools for an hour, it’s still just a bit too hot to take for more than a few minutes, so I’m sitting in front of the fireplace writing this. We’re going to give it another hour or so and try it again.

Yeah, it was awesome, and the bed was super comfy too. Thank goodness for thermen. 🙂

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Location:Papallacta, Ecuador