Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Baños and Rio Verde

After a small but relatively peaceful mutiny at dinner the previous night, when we threatened to sabotage the truck in order to prevent the proposed 7am start, we managed to delay this morning's start to 8am.  A minor victory perhaps, but it was important to those of us who aren't used to being up with the larks (if there were larks here that is).

switchbacks and sheer drops
 We had more windy roads for much of the journey, and at one stage we went round a particularly steep and sharp switchback in the road where TJ had to reverse back to get around the turn. As he was reversing back towards the sheer drop behind us, we noticed that there was not one, but nine of those little crosses that mark where someone has died - presumably by driving off the edge that we were very close to ourselves! However TJ was obviously either more skilfull, more careful, or just more lucky than they had all been and we made it safely.


The drive was not too long today, and we got to Baños at about 1:15pm.  Banos sits at the foot of a constantly active 5016m volcano called Tungurahua. So the first thing we were told when we arrived was that if the siren goes off, we should evacuate the town, not do as the local do and rush towards the volcano to watch the eruptions!  Apparently much of the activity is very minor and so safe, but sometimes people do get killed and obviously a proper full eruption would take out the town completely.
Pequeña Paraiso

With the possibility of an eruption in our minds, we headed to the market for lunch again, and this time we did not have such interesting food sights, but the meals were still good.  After lunch, those of us in the cook groups went shopping for the meals for the next few days of camping.  Then it was off to our latest temporary home.

We weren't staying in Banos, we were staying in the safe zone of Rio Verde, camping at a hostel called Pequena Paraiso. It is cut into the vegetation and full of lemon trees, banana plants and fabulous red amarylis.  Sue and Mark run the place, assisted by their dog Tasha.  We had a big room we could use and, as we were self catering, it was great to have a proper kitchen too.

Banana plant

We were there at the same time as a small group called Kamuka, who don't have a truck as they travel on public transport. They were traveling in the opposite direction, so over the next few days stories and recommendations were swapped.

The first day the options for activities were given to us, but as the white water rafting and canyoning were both a little too likely to cause me to end up panicking under water, I decided to give them a miss.  Nic considered the rafting but being grade 5, it wasn't covered by the insurance, so he didn't do it either.

Pailon del diablo

On the first day, we took a walk down to the tallest waterfall nearby, which is called the Pailon del Diablo, or Devil's Cauldron.  It was quite a walk down and then back up, but it was a good sight of a reasonably impressive waterfall.

Afterwards, we had planned to try the local empanadas, but unfortunately the woman wasn't there, so after a quick drink we caught the bus into Banos.  We had decided to treat ourselves to a massage and jacuzzi at Huella's, and it was an excellent decision.

It was then a quick trip back to Pequena Paraiso, as I was on cook group and had to start on dinner.  With the proper facilities available, we were pushing the boat out with chicken fajitas, all the trimmings, and flambeed bananas for dessert.

After dinner it was Izzie's turn to challenge on Bananagrams, and she also had to walk away defeated.  However, Leon's practice and persistence had finally paid off and he not only got to 'peel' more often, he even won a game.  He was delighted!  We only let him win the one though.

Big moth

Rio Verde was also where we had our first taste of the size of some of the bugs in the jungle. Amongst others, we had a moth that was about the size of your hand when it had its wings spread, and a cricket type thing that was the size of your palm.  And then there was the bat flying around the room one night, but that was regular size.
The next day we had another go at the empanadas -this time successfully.  We each had a chicken and cheese one followed by a banana and chocolate one.  And very nice they were too!

We found a free Internet site in the afternoon, so spent a short while catching up on some practical bits, including looking for somewhere to stay when we go to the Edinburgh festival next year.

Nic was on cook group today, and they had also decided to up the stakes with breaded chicken fillets, mash, and pancakes for dessert.  Clearly it is just as well we don't normally have a kitchen or we'd soon all be a few stone heavier. 

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