Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.

Baños

We got in into the little tourist town of Baños (~5000 people, ~6000 feet) wasted from the bus ride down and physically drained from the altitude in Quilatoa.  We wandered around a bit looking for the right hostel and were twice offered the Matrimonial Suite. (Um…if that means a heart-shaped bed or the Magic Fingers attachment, the answer is “fuck yes.”)  But the obvious solution to our ails is a big steak, wine, and tequila.  Some Xanax from the Pharmacia also couldn’t hurt.

 

Okay, so it turns out that Xanax and tequila CAN hurt.  Who knew??  There is about 3 hours of lost time in there, but I know I paid for 7 tequila shots, 3 shots of pisco, and we emptied out the karaoke bar when I tried to sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

 

We spent the majority of the evening drinking at a bar with stools right on the main street so we could keep an eye on the action.  Edmundo, the bar owner, talked politics with us for hours and I didn’t complain about the $46 bar tab until much later.  I do remember that he had Korean dramas playing on his TV in the corner…very bizarre.  We both slept until Noon the next day, including sleeping through an evacuation of the entire city…more on that later.

 

One of my favorite new pastimes is to cuddle up with Holly and dispense The Knowledge of how she should live her life.  She really loves it too.  “What the fuck was up with that hour-long speech you gave me this morning??”  We’re going to try that again tomorrow morning for sure.

 

In order to clean some of the crap out of our systems (including two packs of Tropicales cigarettes…how can they be bad if they’re only $1.50 a pack?), we headed just south of town for El Refujio, a spa and sauna facility.  The forced march (shoeless) through their “Sacred Refuge” was forgettable, but the sauna boxes filled with Eucalyptus leaves certainly were worth the trip.  We also sprung for a massage, but they put us in the same room because they also thought we were married…awkward.

After the sauna and massage, it was back to town for dinner.  They had on the national news and the top story was “La Evacuaccion de Baños.”   Hundreds and hundreds of people rolling up their shops and literally running down the hill and out of town.  The entire restaurant staff came out of the kitchen to crowd around and see the news.  I was laughing hysterically because we had ignored the 30 minutes of emergency siren and stayed in bed.  Nobody else thought it was as funny as I did.  Strange.

 

This is our hostal hostess, Bierme (as in “Beer Me):

 

The volcano that is just outside of the city has been pretty active for the past couple of weeks and the tourist traffic is down significantly.  During our stay, you could hear a huge “boom” from the mountain every hour or two – pretty dramatic stuff.  Even though the weather was cloudy, we decided to take a taxi up to the top of the hill and try to get a look.  And this is what we saw:

 

Okay, so we didn’t really SEE shit, but being that close to the thing was a pretty righteous experience.  Different from being in the town below, from the viewpoint just across from the volcano, you could literally feel the damn thing breathing.  It sounded like a dragon snoring that would occasionally cough and spit a little fire.  At one point, there was a pretty sizeable explosion, at which point I grabbed my chest and staggered back a few steps.  The Ecuadoran family sitting on top of the hill watching thought that was pretty funny.  Stupid gringo.

It did clear briefly so we could see just how close we were to the mountain.  Well worth our $15 ride up.

 

They also had a swing at the viewpoint that went out over the cliff’s edge.  If the proximity of a live volcano didn’t take your breath away, this certainly will.

 

 

We had gone to the public hot springs (the main attraction in Baños) earlier in the day and met a couple of girls from Colorado and they joined us for dinner at a kickass French place we had found.  Then the four of us went out and made another run at the beer/pisco/tequila combo that had served Holly and I so well a couple of nights before.  Holly (wisely) bailed out after the second bar, but Lauren, Darcie and I continued on to the karaoke bar, and then to the dance club where I showed off my sweet sweet moves.  By 3 am, they headed for home and I headed back to the streetside bar for one last drink before bed…

 

Next thing I know I have two new best friends (one of whom looks suspiciously like Hugo Chavez) who are dragging me to the after hours club down the street (at 4 am, the cops pulled up and told us to get the hell off the street…effective).  There seemed to be some serious reservation at the door about letting a gringo in, but (as I recall), cash solved the issue.  Two packs of smokes and 12 tall beers later, I was hustled out the door again when I was attacked by a crazy Russian cougar named Tatiana.  I thought we were just dancing, but Señor Chavez was sure she was trying to steal my money.  Out we go into the (now light) street with our last beer poured into a 32 oz plastic cup.  After many hugs and kisses goodbye, and promises to stay in touch (I can’t even read their damn email addresses in my notebook, let alone remember their names), they escorted me home down the empty streets.

 

 

I tried to crawl into bed with Holly and dispense The Knowledge, but she told me to go fuck myself.  Rude.  Two hours later, it’s time to get on the bus and make the 8 hour ride to Cuenca.  I’m sure that’s going to turn out great, considering my condition.  Do we have any of that Xanax left?

 

One Response to “Baños”

  1. She Spat says:

    You've got crazy-eyes in these pics…
    -Jules

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