Last known location: London, England

Volcanoes and Virgins

We broke the long journey to Quito in the spa town of Baños (literally ‘Baths’), a small place nestled in a cloud-topped valley with steep green peaks rising on both sides. It had been a long journey, and being a Sunday evening very little in the town seemed to be open, so we scoffed a quick pizza, glugged a beer on the roof terrace at the hostel and had a quiet night!

The next morning we paid a pre-breakfast visit to the hot spring baths – a very relaxing way to spend a Monday morning! The water was a bit on the murky side but very hot – one of the pools was actually too hot for anyone to use. It was a spectacular setting, with the steep slopes rising all around, and a waterfall cascading down behind us. The Virgin Mary is alleged to have appeared underneath the falls at some point in the distant past, making Baños a destination for pilgrims from across Ecuador – although I think the local tourist board might have had a hand in spreading the story!

The hot springs weren’t the only sign of volcanic activity in the area. Lurking menacingly just over the hills is the smoking peak of Tungurahua volcano, which suddenly sprang back into life in 1999. Since then it’s erupted several times, killing a few people in the process and causing the whole town to evacuated on a couple of occasions! On nearly every street corner was a warning sign telling you which way to run in the event of an eruption – we didn’t really take this very seriously until I read that the most recent eruption was only a couple of weeks before we arrived!

Baños also has a huge number of spas and massage places, something Gem is partial to, so in the afternoon she headed for a couple of hours of pampering whilst I tried to catch up with the blog, which has been lagging some way behind us! The town’s other claim to fame is Melcocha, a kind of taffy made in dozens of shops, so after having a demonstration we tried a piece – very sweet and you could feel your teeth instantly beginning to rot!

In the evening we went, slightly surprisingly, to a Swiss restaurant for dinner. The local food, whilst tasty enough, is fairly unremarkable and a bit repetitive, so we haven’t felt too bad trying out a few of the international offerings from time to time. I thought it would be rude not to give the cheese fondue a go, and it certainly hit the spot, even if I did end up with some minor cheese burns!

On leaving Baños we caught yet another bus (when we get back we might have a permanent phobia of them) to the capital Quito. On the way north through the mountainous La Sierra region we passed several more snow-capped volcanoes – Ecuador has 30 that are currently active, so they’re not hard to spot!

1 Comment:
  1. Alan 26 May, 2011

    Cheese burns are one of the hazards of fondue unfortunately…
    Good work getting caught up with the blog – it’s been an interesting read the last few days.

Post a comment
If you want your photo to appear with your comment (optional!), upload it at Gravatar.comOpens in a new window