This post is part of a series:
The spoiling of ourselves continues. After our "perfect day" we decided it was time to challenge ourselves a bit, so we'd signed up for a whitewater rafting tour on the nearby river Pastaza. We were a little nervous about it (okay, mostly Kelly) - was it going to be safe, would the guides speak enough English, were they REALLY going to be class III-V rapids as advertised? - but we took a leap of faith.
It paid off - we had some of the best rafting that either of us have ever experienced. It turned out that they were Class IV+ rapids - not exaggerated at all. Not only that, they were one after another - no leisurely floating down the river in between to recover your senses. Huge waves, broken paddles, screams of disbelief, kayaker trapped upside down, dangerous water dynamics, the guide always yelling "FORWARD, FORWARD," and so on. Chris has never heard as many, um, un-pastorly like words out of Kelly's mouth in one sitting before. Sitting at the front of the raft, Chris never swallowed so much river water in his life. But we both stayed in the boat (a real achievement, we'll show you the video!), pulled more than our weight in terms of paddling, and greatly enjoyed the camradarie with our fellow boatmates. No sea-sickness this time around.
After spending the rest of that day enjoying the town again and relaxing, we wanted to challenge ourselves again today. But what we thought was a challenge - a one-hour hike up the volcanic mountain to a great view (photo at left) - turned out to be a standard walking route for the locals. We literally passed a little girl walking up the trail home from school in her uniform as we huffed and puffed our way back down in our high-tech hiking gear. That was after some other kids RAN past us up the trail as a simple after-school work out. Humbling to say the least, but the views were still amazing.
We cooled off from that with a trip to one of the baths I mentioned in the last post. The water was springing up from the molten heart of the volcano, and so you had three options for water temperature: fria, caliente, and mas caliente. We started with mas caliente and cooled off in between sessions with the ice-cold waterfall right next to the pool. After we got our bearings, we (almost) felt right at home with the locals, who seem to come here often to relax, bathe and socialize.
We're enjoying our last night in Banos, and then tomorrow we're headed to Otavalo, a town north of Quito known for hosting one of the largest markets in the country. Chris is a little skeptical of the whole market thing, but every tour book and person we've met said it's a must-see.
So, back on the road we go to our final destination before our red-eye flight on Saturday night. Earlier today, Kelly and I were expressing our amazement that we're not totally sick of each other yet, but it turns out we travel pretty darn well together (at least in South America). We're having a great time.
See you soon!