The stings on my legs look even worse today – also my feet look quite swollen . We pack our things before we head towards the kitchen to have breakfast.
Although Verena only mentioned briefly that she has celiac disease and doesn’t need any bread (she always takes her own gluten-free bread along on her travels) Michelle made some gluten-free coconut/banana pancakes especially for her !
Wow. Today we have a real breakfast and not just cookies! If the Danes we met on our Mexico trip could see us now !
At some point Gary, Michelle’s husband, joins us and we get plenty of information about Baños, our next destination. Awesome! Because we have not really planned anything in advance. Since he also knows some hostels in the city he suggests us a few – we have a brief look at them on booking.com and decide quite quickly for one: Gary makes a short call and we have a confirmation for our next accommodation – perfect! Also at a reasonable price .
We take a taxi to the bus station, buy tickets (4,50 USD) to Baños and are immediately made aware that the bus is about to leave. “Baños! Baños! Baños!”. I consider it extremely easy to get from A to B in Ecuador. Taking the bus there is extremely foolproof – just listen up and pay attention to the name of the city the bus drivers are shouting . Since there are different bus companies, it feels like every 15 minutes a bus departs in the desired direction.
The ride to Baños seems to be shorter than expected – maybe the interesting view also contributes to the fact that the journey does not get boring. Particularly in the driving direction on the left, you can see numerous waterfalls in canyons.
Arriving in Baños, we take a taxi to the hostel: Wow, our expectations are even exceeded here: “La Posada J” has a very relaxed atmosphere, with hammocks on the veranda and a view of a waterfall. I don’t think we could lose the key to our room – there is a regular size Maraca hanging from the keychain. Or to put it differently: The key hangs on the Maraca .
We want to spend the sunset at the Casa de Arbol, the “highest tree house (with a swing) in the world”. We take the bus to the bottom of the Tungurahua. Each time we continue up the serpentine road, the view becomes more and more interesting – at some point we reach the entrance to the seismic observation station. Although we discovered some swings on the way here (El Vuelo Del Cóndor, Torre Al Cielo, …) “the original” is what attracts us the most. For 1 USD you can enter the seismic observation centre, on whose grounds the famous tree house is located. There are some travellers here, but it is quite relaxed. Even the “party bus”, which pours out a load of tourists shortly after our arrival, doesn’t change the fact that you can easily choose a quiet spot on the lawn. As for the swing itself: Yes, there is a queue here . Nevertheless, I think the view on Tungurahua is the main attraction.
It starts to get dark slowly and some clouds cover the view on the volcano. Around 18:00 we take the bus back and decide to look for something to eat in the city centre. Our tummies are rumbling.
The restaurant Killu Wasi looks very inviting, but we seem to be quite early for dinner – there are not many guests here yet. The staff is really knocking us off our feet, because the friendly waiters take extra time to explain local dishes and drinks to us.
Verena decides for a gin-blackberry liqueur cocktail* and I discover “Michelada”** on the menu – so far a drink that I actually wanted to drink on our Mexico trip, but never got around to.
While we’re eating, a music troupe steps into the restaurant and first asks the employees and then the guests at every occupied table if they could play some music. Of course nobody has any objections – the ambient music running in the background is nice, but there is nothing like live music!
The group knows how to really create the right mood – it’s interesting what strange sounds come from these unknown instruments. Except for an acoustic guitar, none of them are familiar to me. An ukulele-like plucked string instrument is particularly striking, but it has 10 strings. Its body does not seem to be made of wood but… from the shell of a… turtle? Or an armadillo? I cannot determine it exactly.***
After a very tasty Canelazo as a digestif, we slowly make our way back to the hostel. As I reach into the backpack to get the key (including the maraca) out I have to grin: “Hey, I could have joined in – I even had my own music instrument with me…”
* Extremely good!
** A mixture of light beer with tabasco, salt and lime juice – it takes getting used to, but it’s refreshing.
*** This is a Charango, a small plucked string instrument, where the dried armor of an armadillo is used as a resonance body.