After our Cotopaxi climb we took some time to relax and explore in Baños. It’s a relatively small town with a beautiful center plaza and all the restaurants and bars required for a good vacation spot.
The town was significantly busy on the weekend, but it really quieted down during the week when the local vacationers returned to work. It’s somewhat of an adventure capital with tour agencies everywhere offering everything from white water rafting and zip lines to bungee jumping and mountain biking. I think we’d had enough adventure with the mountain climb, but we did rent bikes one afternoon.
Baños sits in a valley which means that it has great hikes up in all directions. One morning we choose a path and started walking. It was almost all uphill, but this meant that we had great views of the city.
When we returned to our hotel, we were filthy and covered in ash. We soon discovered that the active volcano nearby was spewing ash, as I guess it often does and was covering everything in a thin layer of black dust.
Our hotel was an eco-lodge outside of town and great find. It had been constructed from the ground up with sustainable materials and means by an Australian-New Zealand couple six years ago, and it was simply beautiful.
Some of the projects the hotel was implementing and working on include: pre-heating hot water with the sun, buying all building materials and produce locally, re-planting of native trees and offering free water refills so guests didn’t have to buy plastic water bottles. They even kept guest tabs on old tea bag packaging.
Once again there were also work exchange volunteers there, which is always great to see. I think if we’d had more time we would have loved to stay and volunteer there. One of the workers was a man from Montana who always wore tie-dye shirts, a cowboy hat, and used zippidy-do-da as an adjective, he was quite entertaining.
It was also really interesting to speak with the hosts who loved everything about living in Ecuador, except it was time for their young son to begin school, and the area apparently lacked very strongly in that one important aspect. They have another child due at Christmas time, and were considering soon selling the hotel and moving back to New Zealand for the better education opportunities there for their children.