The day starts pretty early for me – right after getting up I walk up the road “Vicente Rocafuerte” to the “Pastaza”. Walking such a steep road early in the morning is not without a challenge. The city seems deserted, but the bus (1 USD) is already waiting at the intersection.
Up to 5:45 o’clock the seats slowly fill up. Actually, I seem to be the only foreigner here – it seems no one had the idea to drive to the Casa de Arbol this early. I hope I manage to take a good photo of the Tungurahua at sunrise. At this moment I can’t predict if this will work out the way I want it to – it’s still pitch-black.
More and more people get off the bus during the trip – hardly anyone seems to want to drive all the way to the top. The bus often doesn’t comes to a standstill for the exit – everything goes quite fast. Arriving at the observation center, the guard gets off the bus before me and we stroll together to the entrance (1 USD). Seeing my tripod, he reckons that I will unfortunately have bad luck for taking pictures today – he doesn’t believe that the clouds will disappear soon. Yes, I have to make the best of it…
As soon as I enter the park, it starts to drizzle lightly. Damn. Although the weather is not the best today, the view is still breathtaking. It seems to have snowed on the volcano yesterday and there is still some snow left.
A look at the watch: It is shortly after 8:00 – I should slowly set off to catch the bus heading down again. 8:15 – no bus yet. Is it late? I start to slowly walk down: Some cars approach from the other direction, but no bus for miles. My stomach also starts to growl, but the snack shop a few meters further on is still closed…
The stone path which I follow leads at some point to an asphalted road – I seem to have walked quite a bit. At a bus station I ask a man waiting there when the next bus will arrive: Bad luck! The next bus down arrives at 11. Since the weather is quite bad today and it is not the peak season, the 8 o’clock bus does not run. My only option would be to take a taxi or hitchhike. Had I known that before, I would have stuck out my thumb a while ago – now there’ s no car coming in my direction. The man is soon picked up by a car – but giong uphill.
The attempts to write an SMS to Verena so that she knows where I am, fail – there is absolutely no reception up here.
Was the distance really that long last time? I trot to the rhythm of the Proclaimers song “I’m gonna be” along the road. At an open house entrance I hear some rather aggressive barking. Just what I needed. A shepherd dog, a doberman and something smaller but very furry and aggressive seem to live here. U-turn. I walk back a few meters, unpack my tripod from my backpack and extend it to maximum height. I switch to the opposite side of the road and slowly walk past the property without paying any attention to them – growling and barking echoes in my direction, but that’s it. All well and good. Then I see another furry white dog on my side of the street, lying with his back to me. I don’t want to change sides any more. I walk on: The fur ball seemed to have taken a nap, because only after I got very close it gets startled. Looks to the left, looks to the right… then finally Fido turns around. Sees me, gazes baffled, and runs away howling. Great, those kind of guard dogs are my favourite…
Do people ever drive down the mountain at this time of day? I haven’t seen a single person since the bus stop, let alone a car. Then the bus I see the next bus to the observation centre approaching. It is almost 10… I have already taken my dosage of sport today. About 5 minutes later I’m lucky: A pickup truck drives in my direction and I’m promptly taken along, great ! “Jump into the back”. I am now a very happy flatbed boy – my feet are really hurting now. The guys are driving down to the village square, there is the football field on the way where I thank them very much and get off. Uff, finally at the hostel! Breakfast! And really, really, really good coffee! And banana bread with chocolate! And fruits… and… and…! I am really glad to get something to eat…
The plan for today was actually a relaxation day, and I actually urgently need it now . Since there is the opportunity to be massaged here, we decide for a kneading session in the afternoon. “Everything hurts somehow, this is really important now”.
But first we want to visit the local spas. The full city name here is actually “Baños de Agua Santa” (baths of the holy water). They are located close to the waterfall: “I am surprised that in the piscinas you don’t feel like a tourist at all. No gringo tax, the entrance fees are extremely cheap (2 USD), and everyone has to wear a bathing cap. Numerous sulphurous hot springs feed the pools of several thermal baths. The water is partly mixed with that of the waterfall to reach different temperatures. Ahhhhhhhhhh. Relaxation!
Soaked and rested we make our way back to the hostel – the massage is waiting (30 USD). After all the action of the past days we deserve to relax a bit. Ena decides for a Hot Stone Massage and I choose a classic one for tense muscles. All painful areas and bruises of the past 2 days are massaged away. I just feel great now .
After a short siesta we have a walk through the city and look for companies offering paragliding – the view from above over the area here must be incredible. Unfortunately we seem to have no luck: Since it is way too windy at the moment, no flights are offered. Instead we book a tour with one of the typical party buses (Chiva Tour) to visit the area around the canyon in front of Baños.
We have dinner in the “Casa de Abuela”: Meat! In addition there are various side dishes with pineapple. Delicious! Today is definitely a relaxation day . . After we made a detour to the “Leprechaun” for some cocktails, we visit a supermarket to stock up with provisions for tomorrow – this time we even buy something healthy !