South America: At the foot of a volcano

I moved to the south. Did I write last time I wanted to go either to Riobamba, or Cuenca, or Loja? Well, I ended up in Banos. But back to the morning.
I checked out from the hostel and went to the main road to catch some bus to Riobamba or Cuenca. The bus transportation is a bit chaotic. No timetables and all buses, going through, don't stop at the bus station. You have to go to the main road and stop them, so it's a kind of hitchhiking. I was waiting on the main road for more than one hour and nothing. Buses should go between Quito and Riobamba quite often, but I didn't see any. When I was full of car exhalations. I decided to go to the main bus station to see if I would have any luck with buses which depart from Latacunga. There was no bus to Riobamba, but one went to Ambato which is half the way to Riobamba. But Ambato is also on the way to Banos that is well known for all kinds of outdoor activities. It wasn't my plan, but I took the bus to Banos in Ambato. I don't really like detailly planned traveling. You never know what will happen and improvisation is what makes traveling even better.
Banos lies on the road to the jungle. It's lower (1800 m) than Latacunga, but it doesn't mean there are not high mountains around. It's just in a really deep valley surrounded by high, steep slopes. It's the most tourist place I have visited in Ecuador. There are a lot of Europeans and even shorts are common here. Banos is much cleaner than Quito and Latacunga. My hostel is probably the best one I've ever been at. The rooms are light, clean, and big. They provide a lot of services such as laundry for $3 (you give them dirty clothes and get them back clean), free Internet, and an open bar on the roof with self-service drinks. You take a beer from a fridge and just write your name and what you've taken on a sheet of paper. The only thing which makes me a bit nervous is an active volcano right behind the town.

The next day, I woke up at 8. My German roommate was quickly packing his stuff because I'd waken up too late. He was still drunk and repeating: "Never dring with people from Ireland". He was saying that just because he'd never drunk with Czechs. After quick shopping, I went for a hike. I chose the trail which was recommended by people from the tourist centre. I walked u to a statue of St. Marie and had two options: walking horizontally across the slope or walking up on the hill. I chose the latter one although they'd warned me in the tourist centre. I found out why very quickly. It was damn steep, slippery and muddy after the last rain. Banos isn't in the jungle yet, but the local flora reminds it a lot. Busheds made walking even harder. When I got up on the hill I found a village with many farms. Peope grow plants everywhere even on the steepest slopes. It started raining and I was hungry, so I went under a bus stop shelter to have lunch. Later, one old man joined me. Too bad we didn't chat much and he really wanted to. I just told him where I'm from, where I'd been, and where I was going to go. He said I must have a lot of plata (silver/money), I said "Si, pero no aqui". Then I left to the valley. I got on the other sie of the hill which was behind Banos. There was a nice view over the town. Although the direct distance to the town was like 0.5 km I had to walk about 10 km to get there. At least, I saw several waterfalls which are everywhere. When I finally got back to the town I had to reward myself and bought a couple of beers. I was so thirsty that when I was taking the first one my hand was shaking of excitement.

I got a new roommate today. It's a girl from Switzerland. We talked a bit and it turned out that she'd been on the Galapagos with the Czech couple I met in Quito. The world is small.

BTW If you go to South America and think about what travel guide to buy go for South American Handbook. I was going to buy Lonely Planet, but after I'd read commentaries on Amazon I changed my mind and bought the South American Handbook. Today, I had an opportunity to compare both side by side and The Handbook is really much better. It's been published for 82 years, so it's got really long history. It's got much more descriptive information about accommodation and transportation taht travellers need the most.

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