Friday night Alex, Anina, Maureen and I took off to Baños to meet Emily and Jessica who had gone earlier to get us a nice place to stay. When we arrived to Terminal Terrestre, where we would take the bus to Baños, we were told that there were only 2 seats left, the rest were for people going further on the trip and therefore had to pay more. After negotiating a little, we got ourselves some seats, unfortunately NOT what we wanted. Alex, Maureen and I had to sit in the very back next to the gross, smelly bathroom that had just been sprayed with some flowery smell, therefore making the smell 10 times worse. Poor Anina had to sit in the very front, in a seat we didn't even know was for passangers, next to the bus driver. Turns out, the seats weren't that bad considering there were about 15 people that ended up getting on the bus and traveling the entire way standing up.
After sleeping in a very comfy room with 3 bunked beds, for all six of us, we woke up Saturday morning ready for some fun. We decided to rent some bikes for the day so that we could ride down a waterfall route. Despite my initial hesitation about how much fun it would be to ride the 23 km to el Pallon del Diablo (the Devil's Cauldron), or the biggest waterfall on the route, it ended up being a great experience. We saw various little waterfalls on the way and got to ride through a completely dark tunnel (super freaky considering I literally couldn't see where I was going) and a bridge (where people were bungie jumping).
When we arrived in the little town of el Pallon del Diablo we heard the Lion King's "the circle of life" and all sang it, very excitingly, only to get strange looks from the locals. It was great! After locking our bikes there and hiking down to see the huge waterfall, we rode the in the back of a truck back to Baños, singing various other well known songs and once again getting starred at by the others on riding with us :)
In Baños we found a Mexican food place and ate gorditas, burritos, enchiladas and limonada. Yummy! We then went to El Refugio Spa and got the cajon de baño (Box Steam Bath) treatment. For this treatment we had to sit in a wodden box that only allowed our heads to stick out. Inside the box was a lever where we could allow steam to come out, as well as a bunch of eucalyptus leaves for aromatherapy. We also had tea next to our heads, which these two girls would come and hold for us to drink when we wanted some. After sitting in the steaming cajas for a while we would come out and the girls would poor buckets of freezing water on us. Chilly, but it felt great after being completely covered in sweat. After three little sessions of the steam bath/cold water treatment, we ate some watermelon while we had a mud-mask on our faces. It was a very interesting and different experience, especialy the "spiritual walk," which I forgot to mention, came before our cajon treatment. We went on a walk that involved us walking barefoot on river and volcano rocks, yelling out in towards the mountains, and crawling in grass. Needless to say, my feet hurt afterwards.
For dinner we went to Cafe Good where Anina and I shared a very diverse meal: pita and hummus, nachos, and pad thai, all a delish. We then hopped on the top of this bus, called a Chiva (goat) bus, that took us up a mountain to see the volcano Tungurahua (which errupted a few weeks ago). It was a great ride because we drank some Pilsners and looked at the beautiful stars above (something which is obv unheard of in LA). Although we didn't get to see the volcano because it was cloudy, we did get to see a great view of Baños as well as a fire juggling show put on by two attractive brothers. We then went to a bar and played Janga, completely random I know, then to a discoteca where they played completely random, yet great, music (like Mana's "Me Vale") and danced with non other than one of the fire bros.
Sunday morning we went back to El Refugio to get awesome rock massages then headed back to Quito (to finish my Marketing project, which today, is still not done).
Baños was so much fun and hopefully we'll be going back. Especially because we didn't get to it's main tourist attraction, the reason it's called Baños, the thermal baths.