Under the Volcano

We made it to Banos de Agua Santa yesterday afternoon after an eight-hour bus ride through the Andes. The scenery out the window was arresting. The grassy slopes of these giant peaks are truly unique.

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I particularly like how clouds float in to create wispy cotton lakes among the mountains. Sometimes the clouds covered the road in a dense fog.
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About halfway to Banos from Cuenca we made a pit stop and I saw a farmer leading a single cow up one of the steep slopes.
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We also passed a guinea pig farm — clearly identified by a sign out front. Guinea pigs in Ecuador end up on one of these specially designed, small, black roasters I spotted at a market in Cuenca.
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We knew we were nearing Banos when we saw the Tungurahua volcano in the distance. At slightly over 17,000 feet, it rises up like some ancient, pagan god to watch over (or rule over!) the tiny city.
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Cascading down the side of the mighty Tungurahua is a waterfall that dumps into the Rio Pastaza. Hotsprings are located at the base as is a mineral spring, Banos Virgen, which is believed to be blessed by the Virgin Mary who has been spotted near the waterfalls.
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Banos is our favorite city in Ecuador. It’s got a quirky, artsy funk going. It’s also very tourist friendly because it’s a mecca for those who want to experience the Great Outdoors South-American style. John and I — along with Flat Stanley — are headed into the Amazon rain forest tomorrow.

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