Latacunga to Banos

Just north of us in Latacunga was the active volcano of Cotopaxi and to be fair we had caught a brief glimpse of the peak but otherwise it had been too cloudy to see.
On our last day in Latacunga we wanted to go and see Cotopaxi but the weather was pretty filthy and it didn’t look as though we were going to see too much. Also the volcano was predicted to erupt sometime in the next few months so most of the national park was closed. So with all this against us and Sarah still not feeling the best we had a rest and recovery day instead.
In fact most of the day was spent online trying to find out information about the horrendous earthquake which had struck on the coast the night before. The damage looked terrible, 480 people were reported dead and upwards of 4000 injured. It was indeed both very surreal and very sad to be in the country at this time. For while this disaster had occurred, daily life seemed to be continuing as normal.
The next day we were off to Banos and compared to some of our other South American bus trips the ones in Ecuador were much easier and much shorter. There were loads of people waiting to show you onto the correct bus at the stations and it was all very easy.
On arrival at Banos we had a quick visit to the markets and then decided to have a walk around town and go for a quick hike. On the map the hike looked quite short and promised a view of the town. We soon found out that while other countries have created long winding paths which gently ascend the side of a mountain the Ecuadorian approach seems to be to walk straight up! We were exhausted by the time we reached the top but the view was pretty good.
The valley in which Banos sits is beautifully green and while the town itself isn’t particularly beautiful it does have a certain charm. It is most famous for its hot thermal springs and in fact a translation of the name is Bath not toilet as we first thought!!
After we came down from our hike we had a walk around town and it’s absolutely full of hostels, shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. But we are here during the off season and while there were a few people about it wasn’t really busy at all. In fact the atmosphere was really cool about the place and I have a feeling we were lucky to be here when it was a little quieter and a hit more relaxed.
Speaking of relaxing, we decided to spend the evening at one of the thermal baths. It was quite an experience. The venue was certainly dated as we would expect and on arrival we got shown to what looked like a dungeon to get changed. While the place was probably fairly clean it was all quite old and used and so felt a bit dirty.
Coupled with this the water was brown and the baths were all very full so it was a little difficult to fully relax. Still it was very nice being outside in a Luke warm bath gazing up at a waterfall cascading down just above us.
Our bath was pretty full so we decided to go and have a look around at the other baths and ended up at one with far fewer people in it. They all had a glint in their eye as we approached the pool and as we got it we found out why… It was rediculously hot!!! Sarah (probably still delirious from her illnesses) got all the way in but I only got into chest level. In fact I could tell exactly how far I had gotten because when I got out there was a distinct line of red across my chest.
Not quite what we were looking for so back we went to the warm pool!!
So far so good for Banos and we were both looking forward to spending a couple of days here, there looked like there was going to be plenty to do. T

   

Our favourite at the local market
  

A couple of shots of the streets in Banos.  Just so many bars, restaurants and shops.  All quiet now but it must get so busy.

 

   
The view from the top of our hike, what a reward.

 
The baths with the waterfall behind.

  
Not exactly the most enticing changing rooms.  Sarah referred to them as dungeons.

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