Sunday 14 January 2024

The day I fought a plant in the...bath...and won!

We're going camping again! In amongst the hills, between the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Andes, there is a place called Banos de Agua Santa (or just Banos, meaning "bath"), famous for its thermal baths arising from the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano. Banos is also known as the gateway to the Amazon! There were many things to do in Banos but we just did four things! 

First of, we decided to climb up the Tungurahua volcano. The hike was up through the shady forest and Ismene led the way. The path was steep and deep - sometimes so deep it turned into a living tunnel! On we walked, past hundreds of butterflies, on up the steep, winding path, until Ismene jumped back with a shriek!  There, in front of her, lying on the path, was a strange looking bird! Dan thought it was a nightjar but he wasn't sure. The bird was young perhaps, and fallen out of its nest; or maybe, it had broken its wing because it sat there, making no sound just opening its mouth as if waiting to be fed. The noiseless opening and closing of its mouth was creepier than the eeriest squawk! We hurried on past it slightly freaked out but thought that if it was still there on the way down, and if no other hiker had taken it to an animal refuge, we would do so ourselves. 

When we finally reached the refuge (which wasn't at the top of the volcano but about midway), I was relieved to have made it though my head was aching because of the altitude and my feet were super-tired! On the steep ascent, we've broken through the clouds and, when we reached the refuge, we were still in them but, every now and then, the clouds shifted revealing another lush part of the volcano and the valley below. 

We also went climbing (of course). The climbing was fun, yet there were two "incidents" I would like to tell you about. Our first route was high and had easy moves but the rock was not what you call 'cooperative'. I climbed well, yet the volcanic rock had large slippery stretches and it felt unsafe. As we did our climbs, other visitors to the park passed on an amazing zipline that took them through the gorge. The noise of the zipline distracted me somewhat but I also wondered how it would be like to try it out. 

Ismene attempted the climb after me and was determined to reach the top, but while reaching the last section, she froze because of the height and refused to come down. It took a while for Dan and Ioanna to convince her to come down and she ended up reaching the ground in tears. It was a bit dramatic but I thought she did great given how high the climb was.

The second time we climbed, only Dan and I climbed an extra route. On the route, in between two sets of good handholds, there was a bushy plant. When Dan climbed the route, he passed the plant without much fuss. But when I went up, I was standing facing the plant and wondering how to reach the next section for some time. I have to say, it was quite a fight, and in the end, I knocked it off its perch so I could stand on it and continue the climb. That was something!  

After climbing, we went to the local thermal baths which were great. With an amazing view of a large waterfall and the volcano looming above the town, the baths seemed to be a great place for the locals to hang out. But for us, it was mainly a relief because we had been slaughtered by mosquitoes over the week, and after soaking in the thermal baths, the mosquito bites didn't itch at all! As well as the thermal baths, there was a cold pool and a very cold shower that Ismene and I would run through in between dips in the thermal bath. That was great fun!

But the most fun thing about our stay in Banos was visiting Casa del Arbol (or Treehouse in Spanish)! But more on that in my next post! I promise will be a good one...well, only if you are not scared of heights! 

1 comment:

  1. thanks for another exciting episode! onwards and upward,
    much love, Sal