Monday, April 15, 2013

Banos, Ecuador – Volcanic Encounter

I was sitting on the swing on top of a mountain next to an overly active volcano in the beautiful city of Banos, Ecuador as Bryan was taking pictures of one of my favorite moments. I took a couple pictures of him on the swing and then we hitch hiked our way back to the city with our new Australian friends we had met while sitting in a treehouse. Little did I know my camera would be stolen a couple days later, and we would never see those pictures again.

We had heard about Banos from several backpackers and decided to stop there on our way to Colombia. Getting from Cusco to Banos is a whole other story, but let’s just say we were ready to not be on a bus anymore. Luckily, we found a place to stay that was exactly what we needed. This was one of the friendliest and cleanest hostels we’ve stayed in and the private wasn’t that much more expensive than the dorm rooms. Perfecto!
We spent the next day exploring the cute little city and hiking up one of the nearby mountains. We weren’t quite ready to make the full commitment of hiking to the top to see the volcano, so we made our way back down to relax and watch a couple movies in the hostel. Comfy bean bags, hundreds of movies, and a big flat screen TV was a luxury we simply could not resist any longer.
The next day we packed our daypack with yogurt, salami, a bottle of wine, and mangos in hope that we’d find a cool place to sit at the top and admire the volcano. We decided against climbing the actual volcano as it would be considered suicial, so we opted for the nearby mountain to climb instead. The trip included incredibly steep stone stairs, narrow and muddy paths, and several hours of walking up before we reached the “best place to see the volcano” spot. Unfortunately, our view consisted mostly of clouds and some green in the distant that sort of resembled a volcano. We decided to wait it out for a couple hours as the local guy was saying it’s usually pretty clear in the late afternoon. We sat in the treehouse and ate our travellers lunch before making our way to the swing. The swing was attached to the treehouse that swung off the cliff. It was a great place to snap really cool pictures of the green mountains in the background and discuss how many active volcanos there are in the world with our new Australian geologist friends. Fortunaly, it started to clear up a bit when we heard a “Bang” in the distance. At this point part of the volcano became visible and we could see volcanic smoke rising up. I wish we could have seen more of it, but what we saw was pretty cool. The pictures were some of my favorite of the trip.
After hiking back down to Banos we all decided Mexican food was exactly what we all needed, and fortunately, Bryan and I had come across one the previous day. It was amazing considering it had been awhile since we had really good Mexican food. We said goodbye to our friends and went back to the hostel to crash.
We were in Banos for a total of three nights, but I’m sure we could have stayed a lot longer in the colorful little city. However, the time had come for us to make our journey to Colombia. I remember telling Bryan as we were leaving Banos that we forgot to backup photos. I thought it wasn’t a big deal and we would just back them up as soon as we made it to Cali, Colombia. My camera was stolen directly from my backpack at the Quito, Ecuador bus terminal, and we didn’t notice it was missing until we were already on the bus heading towards the border. If only I could turn back time.

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