Baños de Ambato, Ecuador

The other cool thing about Baños is that the name of the town literally means “baths” in Spanish, and indeed there were thermal baths in town. Popular among the locals and internation travelers alike, the facilities open at 4:30 am and are crowded by 7 am.

Today we got up and moving after a crappy night in a crappy bed. We couldn’t figure out how to get the hot water to work for the shower either… but later i realized that the propane tank hooked up to a water heater mechanism sitting right outside the bathroom might have something to do with that.

The plan for the day: ride 70 km on bicycle to the nearest big town in the jungle called Puyo. The ride would be mostly downhill following the same river valley we were rafting down yesterday. There were a handful of very pretty waterfalls along the way and lush green trees covering the steep mountains. We had to go through a tunnel and under a small waterfall on the way down.

As we got closer to the selva it started to rain… reiterating the fact that it is indeed called a rain forest *for a reason. The ride was about 6 hours and our asses were really sore by the time we got to Puyo. We ate *chaulafan especial at a chifa, which is the ecuadorian way of saying “shrimp, pork, and chicken fried rice at a Chinese restaurant”. It was tasty but nothing like the chinese buffets in US! After a filling meal, we wandered around for a few minutes in Puyo and with nothing to see and tired haunches, we loaded the bikes into the cargo compartment and hopped on a bus back up the mountain from whence we came.

The perfect end to the day had to be to head out to the thermal baths to soak our aching arses. We got there 30 minutes before close at 11 pm and we were the last people in the baths as they drained the water out of the cement pool, to be refilled tomorrow morning. I tried not to think about the fact that people had been soaking in this murky water all day long… dead skin… peeing in the pool… errr, uh, yeah. Anyway, we went out to bars after that and had a few beers with the guides from our rafting trip the previous day and the nightlife was even more dead than Sunday night.

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