Hard to top yesterday, yet somehow the universe (or is it Joaquin?!) continues to deliver us the most memorable and exciting days ever. Our respective adventure tanks continue to hover near the “full” line, but this day was the equivalent to heading to the Esso station to top up your already full fuel tank, and even though you’re certain the tank could not manage one more drop, you can still squeeze out $5 worth. Ok, really not a very eloquent analogy but you get the picture.
The night before we had checked into the most lovely hostel in Baños, run by the sister of one of Joaquin’s friends. Given their relationship, we scored a major deal on a “suite” which included a separate bedroom. Thumbs up for the extra bed and square footage! The owners were just so lovely, and after having turned down my offer to give them one or both of our daughters as a Canadian gesture of good will, I gave personal mad props to the dad, who politely informed us that four daughters of their own was more than sufficient. Four daughters?! Pass the wine!!!
Our sleep was interrupted all night thanks to a rooster who was off his regular schedule. Circa 1:30 am he proceeded to call out to all his other rooster buddies in the ‘hood and the lot of them had a massive hootenanny all night.
No amount of ear plugs or youtube “sleep music” could drown out his cock-a-doodle-doing. As a result and given the rain that was falling, we opted for a leisurely pace to our day and wound up hanging out in the room to just “chill” for a bit.
But too much lolly-gagging just isn’t good for the soul, especially when you’re in Ecuador!! So, we walked into the lovely town of Baños to explore.
Alvi and I tried to convince the kids to eat in the Mercado where for $2 we could have enjoyed soup and an oversized chicken/rice lunch. It was a valiant effort but a no-go. (Saffy’s picky eating is turning her into a teeny tiny toothpick… at this rate she’ll weigh 35 pounds by the time we come home!) From our walk-about and after chatting with some super friendly Ecuadorian peeps, I concluded that I could seriously see myself living here. I know I keep saying that, but I’m actually really serious this time. It’s got just the right dose of available adventure and is a city more my speed at just a few hundred thousand. It reminds me a lot of Squamish, B.C., where my sister and her family live. Here at lower altitude of just 1,200M and in a valley, it is surrounded by lush greenery, rivers, waterfalls and peaks begging to be climbed.
At 3:00 pm we piled into the Prado to head to Casa del Arbol, a place I knew would hold magic for the kids! This translates to TREEHOUSE and way up at 2,300M in the hills it boasts the most tummy-tickling swing ever. The swing(s) extend out from a tall tree branch and with gravity alone pulling you off the platform, you will soon be hovering over a massive canyon. Unfortunately the rainy weather meant we couldn’t see much below — maybe a good thing?! — but it sure did create a mystical atmosphere for all of us! Everyone got “into the swing of things” (groan!) including Alvi, who was, perhaps, the biggest kid of them all! It was quite unnerving to watch little Saffy seemingly float over the clouds! Along with the swings, they also had a nifty do-it-yourself zipline over a field of mud and some other enticing acrobatic activities — including a balance beam log over top of a pit of muddy water. Piper being the gymnast was all over it, despite my best advice. I could just see her, all covered in mud from head to toe — never mind a small dumping of rice and chicken lol. She figured out in not too much time the right amount of weight and balance to place on the thin rope that stretched across the slippery log and soon both her and her sister were flying across that thing. Then I even had a go!
On the way down, we ran smack into the most gorgeous rainbow ever — and it was so close to us we could almost touch it! I was like, “how is he doing all this??? Queue the rainbow!?” From here we drove up higher into the hills to enjoy some hot chocolate and lattés at this picturesque cliff-side resort. We could see the entire town of Baños directly down below and watched the clouds roll up and down the valley as if teasing us.
Finally, it was time to head “home”. We were all starving and there was some talk of heading to the Hot Springs for an evening dip after dinner. To Saffy’s dismay, we shelved that idea because we were just. So. Bagged. So. Very. Tired. Dinner was about all we could manage, and after finding a quiet little place we took the last bit of strength we had to give our youngest a lecture on the importance of trying new foods. It’s quite alarming, really. She’s so sick of eating eggs, so our breakfast options are down to just bread. She won’t try any of the incredible juices offered and literally drinks only hot chocolate or water. She’s not keen on the cheese here and it’s been hard to get a vegetable in her. Alvi’s ingenious idea to stock up on some carrots at the Mercado helped alleviate some of my concerns; but really, she is mostly eating nothing — maybe a few bites of meat here and there, and lots of requests for ice cream. I tell myself that even the fussiest of eaters can one day like sushi, salad, and yes, even oranges (who doesn’t like an orange?!!)… hoping that’s true, anyways.
Even though this is spilling into the next day’s blog, I will tell you that Mr. Rooster was up to his old antics again this night…. And threatening to eat him had little to no effect.