Our 9:40am Sunday bus left Cuenca’s Terminal Terrestre for the 7 hour pilgrimage to Ambato. Another bus would take us the last hour’s ride into Banos . Yes, the cross country buses still cost a dollar an hour. We reserved seats 3 and 4, right behind the driver to allow personal space and room for our bags and back packs. Since this was my first long distance drive through the Andes toward Quito, I enjoyed the views between snacks. The driver took a 40 minute lunch near Pallatanga, so we arrived at Ambato at nearly 5 pm.
The lava stone Cathedral at the edge of the park included a small tourist center in one corner. We studied our complementary map for our day’s plan. We must visit the Rio de Cascadas immediately in the sunshine. And nearby Puyo is the gateway to the Oriente. Treking into streamy jungles may have to wait until my back is fully recovered.
We continued to Puyo and the Oriente, passing through Shell, where missionaries Jim Elliot, Nate Saint and three others were speared into eternity by the Auca Indians in 1956. Headhunting is no longer practiced and is illegal in Ecuador. We visited a bird sacntuary and enjoyed observing the mono (monkey) skurrying among the branches overhead.
Swiss Bistro completed our day with a well presented tilapia for Sue and beef stroganoff for me.
Helado (ice cream) cones prepared us for a good nights sleep. We also recommend Hood Cafe and Pappardelle.
Early the next morning, we shocked our bodies for an hour in the cedar box-like enclosed steam bath, accentuated with breaks every ten minutes for the sweetly sadistic attendant to swamp us with ice cold water. Is that what “Agua Santa” (holy water) is about?
Banos has several hot spring water parks. The municipal pool at the foot of the cascading waterfall at the edge of downtown is only two dollars, but was very crowded. Several other spas range from five dollars upward. Many include various optional massages, skin/facial treatments and assorted pamperings. Once again we opted for shock and awe with a deliciously painful reflexology and another half hour of back/neck/leg massage.
Every morning we wandered two blocks to the local enclosed Mercado for two large mixed cocktails of fruit and veggies blended before our drooling mouths. We shared orange juice/alfalfa/carrot and guayabana/coconut/mora smoothies prepared by smiling ladies. A buck each.
Future Trip ideas:
You spoiled us, but there is more to discover in your mile high temperate climate and welcoming citizens.
Enjoy the rest of the pictures: