March 30th to 31st 2011
Detox Steam Bath
At the hostel you could get what was termed a relaxing detox steam bath for only $2.75, so I figured what the heck after 2mths of jungle grime build up that sounded downright fantastic. Little did I know what exactly it entailed:
– strip to swim suit
– have strange guy in just swim trunks place you in large wooden box
– box lid is slid closed exposing just your neck
(due to a failure in height this involved a bit of neck stretching and my feet didn’t touch the ground properly)
– steam was pumped in for at least 5minutes
– guy frees you and you follow a precise routine of dousing yourself with towel soaked in cold water (following circulation pattern)
– repeat hot box
– repeat towel soak
– repeat hot box
– sit in shallow pool and massage your stomach clockwise while guy splashes freezing cold water over you
– repeat hot box
– repeat towel
– repeat hot box
– get doused with bowl of cold water
– then walk to other room and have guy hose you down with high pressure hose.
Absolutely hilarious, invigorating and fantastic. The hardest part was when he hosed down the under side of my feet, I am very ticklish and nearly collapsed in a pile of giggles.
I felt so good after I went out to explore, got as far as buying an alpaca sweater/jersey/jumper (had nothing warm after being in the jungle) and having a cup of coffee. Almost as soon as I finished the coffee I felt an overwhelming need for sleep and spent the rest of the day in bed. There is a certain point where the body just realises it needs a vacation and it decides to take it.
After a good 5hr nap I was able to function enough to explore some of the surrounding adventure offices and find an activity for the following day. I was leaning towards horse riding as it has been many years since I had the opportunity. I decided on one that had a very friendly lady and offered it for $30 for 4 hrs. Sounded perfect (I would suffer later).
Airline screw up, it had to happen sometime
Then up to the roof top terrace of the hostel to try and figure out the screw up with my ticket home. I had decided to surprise my parents for easter weekend and had purchased 2 tickets on Allegiant air about 2weeks ago during one of my trips to Tena. I am anal retentive when it comes to confirming these and made sure the 2 one way tickets were correct before clicking the yes button. I didn’t have time to check the email confirmations until I had arrived in Baños and thats when I discovered the screw up. Instead of one way from San Fran to Eugene and then Eugene to LA, I some how had 2 one way tickets from Eugene to LA on the same day, same flight. I tried to email, no response, tried the online live chat, no help, finally I loaded up my skype account and called. The best they could do was to change the one ticket, but I would have to pay a change fee… luckily it was only $10 so I decided to grin and bare it.
New Friends and Local Baths
During the process of fixing my ticket I had an audience/peanut gallery. Asef, Israel, gave an amusing commentary the entire time I was trying to change my ticket and helped lighten the moment. Shortly after sorting it out his mate, Rob from England, showed up and we decided to head out to the local baths.
The baths are located at the end of town and cost $3 to get into. You put your gear in a tub and hand it in, have a rinsing shower and then head to the pool. Everyone getting in is grimacing and acting in pain and you assume that this pool must be the freezing cold one. It was in fact boiling hot, just short of bubbles. I think I could have poached a nice piece of fish in there. Once you finally slide in it feels good, almost. Eventually though it is time to get out and try a dip in the cold water. The heat makes you not feel the cold as bad, if you get in quickly, then the numbing cold makes you not feel the heat as bad. It ends up working out well, but you can only do it for so long and I headed out after about 3 hot and 3 cold dips. The others were going to meet up for dinner later.
Dinner involved very cheap pizza (edible, barely), then sitting on the terrace playing card games and drinking rum and coke. When it reached the magic hour of heading to the bar (about 10.30pm) I went to bed. I think I am getting to old for bar hopping…
A Horse Named Maria
The following morning I was driven to the horses and introduced to my mare, Maria. It turned out this little sassy lassy was a perfect fit for me and also exceptionally stubborn. She liked to be in the lead and kept walking in a wavy line to prevent my guide’s horse, Benito, from getting ahead of her. We headed out of town and up into the hills. Renee (my guide) gave me the option of 2 routes and I said which ever she preferred. She decided since I appeared to have experience we would take a less used route. This involved steep inclines and declines and rough terrain. It was fantastic but I feared my knees and rear may never forgive me. At one point we had to get off and walk down and a long decline as my knees did protest too much.
The best thing about Renee was that she loved the fact that I was traveling alone and wasn’t attached. She herself was divorced and had 3 kids. Her philosophy was to do something you love, have kids but try avoid acquiring a husband as long as possible, they were more trouble than they were worth.
I had to walk the 10minutes back to town and after a nice hot shower I discovered that sitting was quite a challenge. It appeared as if all the trotting and up and down had bruised my sitz bones which created quite the problem. The solution was to lie down and have a nap, a perfect solution if I say so myself.
Vegetarian Lasagne at Casa Hood
For dinner I finally got to go to the famous Casa Hood. It has a fantastic backpacker hippy feel and the food was incredible. I wish it had been open every night I was there, as I would have loved to work my way through the menu.
Returning to the hostel for another rum and coke evening with Asef and Rob and a jenga challenge. After collapsing the tower numerous times the game turned into a block building challenge to see who could make the tallest tower. A great way to spend the evening. When they headed to the bars I headed to bed.
Tomorrow I head to meet up with friends in Riobamba and then the bus towards Puerto Lopez…