Holy Water Baths would be my first trip to South America thanks to an unexpected move.
Just landed in Quito, Guille took me into his home of the La Floresta neighborhood while I was taking the pulse of the city and getting my academic degrees approved (2 months took). Guille is also from Almería and we've known each other since we were in Granada. Yes the hospitality in the distance is always to be welcomed, in this case even more, since shortly after my landing I found that adapting to Quito it wasn't going to be easy and that it would require more time than I had imagined.
So what to do? My solution to this was to travel and move around as much as I could, as this way I could kill two birds with one stone:
- On the one hand, the wait for the homologation of the titles would be more bearable. Once I had them I could start looking for work as a teacher.
- On the other hand, it would be the best way to begin to immerse myself in that new world and familiarize myself as soon as possible with its idiosyncrasies.
Guille is an architect and was invited to give a lecture at the 1st Ecuadorian Congress on Rural and Community Tourism which was organized in Holy Water Bathsso when he offered me to go with him I didn't doubt it.. The move was phenomenal, as apart from having free accommodation in a resort bungalow, he was assigned a private car with driver. As travel companions we had an architect from Quito and his partner.
On the way to Baños de Agua Santa
At my first trip to South America we traveled south the Avenue of the Volcanoeswhich is only the strip of the Andes that crosses the equator from north to south; a spine that is riddled with imposing snowy active. That day I met the Cotopaxi and its 5897m high, the perfect silhouette of any mountain imaginable. Also, although a little less, I was struck by the fertile prairies that marked out our route, which led to more arid hills, with cactus, as the road lost height.
From that trip to Baños there was another circumstance that struck me powerfully, and not exactly for the better, and that was the traffic. Although the highway, the Pan-AmericanIt was in good condition and some sections were new, there were hardly any information panels, it lacked fences and exit lanes, so the change of direction had to be done in the median, slowing down in the same left lane of the motorway. That was even more shocking when I checked how they were spending the driveWe will drive, because once we leave the Panamericana and take a one-lane national highway in each direction, people would go ahead without any qualmsusually coinciding with the vehicle in front of you.
Thus, there were times when a two-lane road would have three vehicles in parallel. If there is not enough room for any of the vehicles on either side to move away, tragedy is servedThis is exactly what happened to a student of mine who was on her way to the beach with her friends to celebrate her graduation from high school. An accident that could have been avoided, the family driver was driving, and that it was a funeral for me a few days before my farewell to the Equator.
As far as traffic is concerned, I would have a bad experience in Peruon the night journey to the Cuyabeno or on the return of the Yasuniand I insist, once again, that you have Be very careful when traveling by road in South America.
Getting to know Baños de Agua Santa
That Friday we arrived at Bathrooms safe and sound and we were able to stay at the hotel, a cozy apartment complex located next to the Cabellera de la Virgen Waterfall. In the afternoon Guille gave his talk and then we went for a drink. There, in an environment more and more animated with the people of the congress, I had to give in to the insistence of the local parish and dare to Spiked Liqueurthe national spirit of the country.
That's where he came in, all of a sudden, the hotel manager in which we were staying, telling me, among other things, that being single, as he was, he could not only find an Ecuadorian girlbut also I wouldn't have to worry about workingShe would support me, and I would be able to dedicate myself to the contemplative life or to collect loversif I so wished. According to her that was common there and it was also a source of pride for the wife, because the greater the number of lovers, the greater the recognition the husband's manhood would receive.
That made quite an impact on me and at the time I didn't quite know if he was staying with me or telling me: Welcome to Ecuador, baby.. What I did find out later, living there, is that the flirting is the order of the day in any environment, which the people what is more sweet y affectionate that the Spanish and that that society en very machoEvery day I was reminded of it by, among others, the giant poster of Detergent El Macho just outside of Quito.
That night in Baños, set by the Stick Horse, we had a great time and when Guille retired, tired from the trip and the preparation of the paper, I stayed in a disc for a while longer with the people from the architecture congress. The next day, Saturday, Guille returned to Quito while I I decided to stay a couple more days, so I moved to a typical backpacker hostel run by a French family, not without first eating with YuriOne of the organizers of the architecture congress, who would be my first Ecuadorian friend and with whom I would meet again in Lojayour city of residence.
The hostel I chose in Bathrooms I had a roof-terrace great, where at night I met curious charactersTwo French globetrotters, a young boy, French too, who came from the Bolivian jungle practically in his clothes and after having suffered from hepatitis, a Danish girl who had worked in an NGO in Quito, or the Indian Juan, a Spanish hater, who ran an adventure tourism company across the street.
What to do in Baños
Holy Water Baths is a tourist townIt is famous for its hot springs and for being one of the gateways to the Ecuadorian East. Located under the protection of the volcano Tungurahuais an ideal destination for the leisure and the relax where you can practice all the adventure sports y nature that you guys come up with. Easy to walk around, it's lively at weekendsThe city has a lot of international discos and bars, which added to the low prices, makes it a must for European and North American backpackers.
At Holy Water Baths I tried the guinea pig, guinea pigfor the first time, with potatoes and rice, for which I think I paid 4$, reminding me of the texture of the roast pig. There I also got my always battered back a good massageI gave myself a bathroom in the pools of the Thermal Baths of the Virgin and I didn't visit Pailón del DiabloI think that by forgetting about the bus departure (I would make up for it later, and well, by knowing the Waterfall of Gocta).
Instead, I dedicated my great Bathrooms to Tungurahua. It's not that I made a top (the volcano is active, roaring y smoking!) but I climbed up to the bucolic landscape of The Tree HouseA meadow with a restaurant that is a magnificent viewpoint to observe, if the clouds leave you, the Mama Tungurahua (the indigenous worldview humanizes volcanoes). A taxi dropped me off near there, buses also go up, and after exploring the area a bit and getting on the End of the World Swing I decided to walk down the steep slope to Bathrooms.
That of Bathrooms was my first trekking in South AmericaThis is a picturesque and demanding path for the knees, which crosses a difference in level of about 600m in 7km. Everything was new to me, so I didn't miss any details about the viewpoints, the old farms, the hotels that are authentic eagle's nests or the tunnels of leafy vegetation through which you occasionally have to pass, something very similar to what I would find weeks later climbing up Machu Picchu. It was that descent with that lush subtropical vegetationand not the hooch or the hotel manager, who really started to hit on me the true measure of EcuadorA natural richness that cannot be understood in such a small country.