Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Las piscinas, un gorro

At last!  I have finally gone to the hot springs!  They were worth every cent of the $2 admission fee, and I'm kicking myself for not going sooner.  (Luckily I have two more weeks in Baños, and I fully intend to go almost every morning.)  

Yes, they really are that brown and sludgy looking, but it's from the sulfur and other minerals in the water, not from people's dirty feet.  They pump the water in straight from the volcano, (my flatmate Johnny, who's big into homeopathic healing, goes everyday and he says that the pools are much hotter in the morning,) and when I went you could see the steam rolling off the surface of the water.  

I wasn't expecting to be too impressed - in general no hot tub in the world is ever hot enough for me in my perpetual coldness - but the water was actually scalding and I could only get in by inches.  But then I just sat around soaking in the warmth with a bunch of old people who've probably been doing this every morning for the past seventy years.  And then when the heat got to be too much, I climbed out and stood under the jet of water diverted straight from the waterfall, and KABOOM!  It was like a jolt of wakefulness straight to the heart and all my capillaries immediately constricted and the mountains looming in the distance seemed a hundred times more vivid.  So I did this, back and forth from hot spring to waterfall, for about two hours and by the end of it I felt like a tiny god, just shiny and clean and pretty darn thrilled with the world and everything in it.  So I think I'll be going every morning for the next two weeks.

Otherwise, I finished knitting my hat!  I used the wrong-sized needles, so it's baggier than I think it should be, but the pattern is gorgeous.

I think something so intricate would be better suited to light yarn, so I'm trying this again with the last of my good yarn, periwinkle blue bamboo-ewe wool blend, hoping it doesn't run out by the end.  So we'll see how that fares.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hot springs and roast chickens

Well, it seems I haven't updated in two weeks, and that's no good.  In my defense, I was sick for almost half of it with something dreadful which I will assume is either Jungle Wasting Fever or cholera.  (Given the fact that I haven't been to the jungle yet, let's just say cholera... cholera's romantic.)  But to make up for my slacking, here is a picture of the mountains and waterfalls they built Baños in the middle of:

While the city itself is pretty touristy, the mountains all around are gorgeous like something right out of Middle Earth.  It's generally cool and rainy here, though I hear the dry season is supposed to begin soon.  There's a huge, snow-capped volcano named Tungurahua overlooking the town, which erupts every couple of months.  Baños is full of legends of the Virgin Mary stepping in and saving the town from boiling lava, as well as creating the waterfall overlooking the hot springs.

I've made friends with some lovely people from Ireland, England, and Alaska and have moved into a house with two of them.  We spend our time practicing Spanish with our landlord Markos and having pancake breakfasts and dinner parties.  (Fresh guacamole is my specialty these days, ever since Quito, and it's going over pretty well.)  Markos has commandeered me into roasting a chicken for him, ("Can you cook?  Do you cook chicken?  Good, somebody will bring a chicken over today and you can roast it.") which I am somewhat leery of.  I've roasted a duck before but never a chicken, and I am particularly terrified of having to disembowel it with my bare hands.  But we'll see how that goes.

Given sickness and busy-ness, I haven't actually been able to do any of the tourist things around Baños, which is the "adventure capital" of Ecuador.  I've gone on one mini-hike up a mountain to go see the volcano, and aside from that I've mostly been drinking tea in cafes and researching articles for the new blog I now write for.  (Incidentally, the link to it is here: http://www.languagetrainers.com/blog/ in case anyone's curious.)  I've also been stalked by this hugely irritating tour guide who knows everyone and is everywhere in the center of town, and who keeps flagging me down and trying to buy me coffee.  I think the ultimate idea is to turn the tables once I'm sufficiently infatuated with him, because nothing gets me hot like a corpulent, middle-aged Ecuadorian man, and then leech as much money off me as he can.  (My flatmate has had this same trouble with a local creeper named Milton; Gringo-hunting is apparently a popular sport in these parts.)

Otherwise, it's good to have a clean place to stay in for a few weeks now.  A friend of mine for Baltimore is currently in Montanita on the coast, taking a course in TEFL, so I may head out that way to meet up with her afterwards.  But for now, I have a chicken to figure out how to roast!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Baños de las Aguas Sagradas

I have made it to Baños, a sort of hot springs tourist town high in the Andes Mountains.  From what I've seen so far, it's gorgeous, and I'm looking forward to renting a bicycle to explore tomorrow.

Otherwise, I would like to take back what I said about Quiteños being unfriendly - they may be a bit guarded towards foreigners, but everyone who found me whiffling around looking for the bus to Quitumbes, the bus station that would take me to Baños, was very helpful with giving directions.  Then, noticing I was about to pass out on the overcrowded trolley bus weighed down with much too much luggage (I really must start unloading more at every place I stay,) a bunch of men shoved over to let me stand by the window, and then one of them even walked me to the Baños window once we arrived at Quitumbes.  Lovely people, the Ecuadorians.

Otherwise, I forgot to mention the hat I'm knitting, which I'm just thrilled about.  The yarn is cheap, but the pattern is amazing, like an optical illusion in fibers, "Crooked Paths" by Melissa LaBarre:  http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/crooked-paths

I can actually see myself knitting this one again and again.