Ecuador · Perspective · Travel

First Impressions

As you first step off the bus, the town of Baños isn’t very impressive. Maybe it was the five hostal employees crowding around trying to get us to stay in their establishment, maybe it was the 7 hour bus ride, maybe it was the hunger from skipping lunch, whatever it was, we were quite underwhelmed.  I began thinking of plan b immediately. After a mediocre, yet expensive meal we were ready to find our new house.
The property manager insisted that all the taxistas knew where it was, so I never bothered to look up the address when I had internet. That proved to be a mistake. After stopping 3 taxis it was clear that no one knew where the place was. I quickly found somewhere to use some wifi and looked up their facebook page with a map. We then found a taxi and we were off. Until we got to a fork in the road, unfortunately the fork wasn’t on my map. Crap. Really? This place was supposed to be easy to find! I had the driver pull over while i investigated further. Finally I found the lady’s phone number and asked him to call. After talking to the host, the taxista smiled like a light went off in his brain. He explained to me that it was the big house. That’s how all the taxi drivers know the place. It’s just called the big house.
A couple of months ago when we were just beginning this adventure, getting lost was one of my main worries. I was constantly afraid that we would somehow be stuck in the middle of nowhere, lost with nowhere to go. I would study the map of the new location before leaving the house. Now I’ve come to realize that we will get lost, if course we will! Even after studying a map, it is so hard to pinpoint a location without any frame of reference. When arriving in a new place there is a certainty about getting lost; it will happen. But I’ve come to realize that it’s okay. It might be a minor inconvenience, but getting lost always teaches me something. If we get off a bus at the wrong stop it’s ok, if we take a wrong bus, it’s ok. If I don’t have the address I can find a way to look it up. If worse comes to worse, I always make sure to carry enough money for a taxi ride back. I have learned that I have to communicate better to lessen my worry. If I’m concerned about something i just have to ask. So simple, yet so difficult to an introvert like me.
We’re staying in a 150 year old farm house. It’s old and draughty and has no Internet, but it certainly has character! The house is a mishmash of stone, brick, and wood and is topped with a Spanish tile roof so old that it has become its own ecosystem. Once again we are in the attic. (This is our third attic stay).The attic is illuninated by stained glass windows and decorated with an eclectic mix of prayer flags, cozy pillows, oriental rugs, woven grass mats and antique furniture. We are surrounded by greenery, bougainvilleas, flowering plants and an abundance of fruit trees. The boys have already begun harvesting grapefruit, tangerines, oranges, and various types of lemons.
I was pretty hesitant to book this place, but it was the only one we could afford. Again we’re well outside of town, and it is a longish taxi ride to get there. It wasn’t on airbnb, everything there was too expensive. Actually I’m not quite sure how I found it, but I’ve been in contact with the property manager for about a month and when a spot opened up she let me know.
We came to this town because it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ecuador. People don’t really come to Baños for the town, they come for the abundance of outdoor activities. The town is busy; full of backpackers, hostels, tour operators, and souvenir shops  in every other doorway. Take one look at the mountains surrounding the town with their dramatic cliffs, the low lying clouds, and raging river below, and you can understand why this place is such a popular tourist destination. The town itself is cute, but one look at the scenery and it’s easy to fall in love with the area. I’m excited explore the trails, mountains, and waterfalls. Since the boys are still little we are a bit limited in our choices of activities, but it seems like there’s still plenty of fun to be had.
The town is named Baños not for its fabulous bathrooms, but for the hot springs that surround the area. Hot Springs always sound like a great idea, but seeing the amount of people in the warm pools always grosses me out a bit, so I’m not sure we’ll actually get to that part.

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