During our stay in Quito we traveled to some other nearby towns that were recommended by both the guidebook and our couchsurfing host Sebas. Our first town was in Otavalo. Otavalo is north of Quito and on our way there we passed over the equator. The bus didn’t stop and there were no exact signs that we could see from the bus, but we officially had been on the equator at some point during the ride. Sadly no cool pictures to show this.
Otavalo is a town that is known for it’s market. They have a variety of hand-made crafts, clothing, toys and such. You can see the colorful display of local handicrafts with a great view of a volcano in the back. Also, another interesting fact, a lot of the volcanoes are so tall that they are covered by clouds all day and the peaks are hard to catch on camera.
It seems that we always are traveling during or around lunch time, so by the time we arrive we are famished for food. We searched what seemed like a long time for some yummy, cheap, and somewhat healthy food and then decided on the deep-fried street food that cost $1.65 total. Below you’ll see a picture of Dave enjoying that food. This particular one consisted of an egg, covered in a rice, potato, beef mixture, then battered and fried. Very delicious.
After our brief, greasy lunch and quick tour of the goods in the market, we decided to check out the waterfall that was in the next town over. The walk took us about 30-35 minutes. It was only estimated to by about 20, but we did check out the views along the way and I tested out my head carrying skills with the 2 liter jug of water. Which shouldn’t have slowed us down, but it did. I’d like to say that I mastered it, but then again, I only did it for a little while. Also, we have been buying water since our Steripen broke. It hasn’t been working since week two. We’ve emailed Steripen complaining about the poor reliability and hoping they will offer us some sort of solution. Which they have offered to ship us a replacement. The only problem now is where to ship it to…
Back to the waterfall. It was called cascada de peguche and was located in a little protected area with some trails and nice views of the stream. Below are some pictures of the waterfall and the park it was located in.
Otavalo was a short day trip with a majority of our time spent on a bus watching “Face Off” in spanish, twice. All in all it was a quaint little town with a nice waterfall located not that far away. It would have been better if we were heading back to the states shortly after visiting and could bring back some souvenirs. But since we’ll be traveling for another 11 months and don’t have room in our bags, we decided pictures will do.
The following day we headed to Baños from Quito. Baños is south of Quito and about a 3.5 hour bus ride. It took us about 4.5 hours total because the south bus station from Sebas’s place is an hour away on public transport. Baños is farther east heading down towards the jungle part of Ecuador. It’s lower in elevation than Quito, but still not out of the mountains.
The name Baños comes from the agua caliente (or hot water springs) that they have there. The water from these springs are pumped into different pools where you pay to enter. Dave and I went after it was dark and a bit cooler. There were a couple of different pools with the water ranging from either very hot or very, very hot. The first pool we decided to try apparently was the hotter of the two and it took me a good 10 minutes to get into the pool, no exaggeration. It felt like my skin was burning off. Eventually we decided to head up to the cooler of the two pools so we could hang out longer in the water.
You can see in the picture that the water is a cloudy brownish color due to the minerals in the water. Supposedly, the minerals here have healing powers. People come here to help with arthritis and other such ailments. It defiantly felt good on the skin.
Next to the pools was a pretty tall waterfall. We could also see this waterfall from our hostel.
We decided to stay over night because it was a bit farther away and there was more to do than there was in Otavalo. So on the second day, we went for a short hike up to this Angel. The hike was hard, it is supposed to be a short simple hike, but it was still really hard to breath at such high elevations. The view from the top was an awesome one of the town and is where the panoramic shot came from.
Because Baños is a touristy town for both foreigners and people from Ecuador there are a handful of fun things you can do. There is a big bridge that spans the river where you can jump off. Sebas highly recommended it. We decided to pass, but did get the chance to see someone do it. It wasn’t like bungee jumping, it was just two regular climbing ropes and what appeared to be a climbing harness. Not the right amount of risk versus reward for me.
We had bought some sugar cane to chomp on while we were here as well. Very good in small amounts as it is very sweet. They also made taffy here by hand. They did the pulling and stretching on door frames all over the town. We tried some taffy on one of the bus rides and it had a very strong sugar cane taste so we didn’t end up buying any. That and we want to protect our fillings from any taffy damage.
We enjoyed our short time in Baños, it was very relaxing and soothing with all of the minerals from the water. It’s too bad we didn’t have more time or money. They offered white water rafting, which looked like it would have been a lot of fun. The next time we’re there we’ll do it.