Misahualli Day 3-4-5 (Amazon Jungle Trip)

We signed up for 3 day/2 night jungle tour through a travel agency in Misahualli. It just so happened to be the agency our hostel in Banos recommended.

Jose decided that he didn’t want to do the jungle tour so he headed out with Katie and Cali back to Quito. It was a good plan since he likes cities and had not yet been to Quito, and I had already spent 3 days there.

So it was just me and Jeremy. We negotiated the rate from $45 a day to $40 a day, or $120 total for the trip.

They supplied us with all the food we needed and boots. It was very muddy so we definitely needed the boots.

We started out the first day with 3 guides, a Swiss couple, Jeremy and I. The swiss couple were only on a day trip so one of the guides was for them.
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The trip was surprisingly very well planned. We started out with a 20 minute ride in the back of a pick up to the trail entry. We hiked 3 hours and the main guide Javier stopped along the way to show us all sorts of plants
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Trees (rubber tree)
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and insects. They let an ant clip onto Jeremys ear
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This was a giant worm hole
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Termite nest
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After the 3 hour hike, we stopped for a half hour break and had a simple lunch by a stream
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After lunch we continued our hike and saw some funky funguses
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And more insects
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We went slightly out of the way to stop to see a giant 700 year old tree
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After crossing a bamboo bridge
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We arrived in the village where we were greeted by curious children
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At this point one of the guides and the Swiss couple took off in a canoe to head back to town. We were about 15kms into the jungle.
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We continued on about 15 more minutes until we finally reached our camp.
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Our camp was a simple shack with a generator for the lights and the kitchen.
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It was outfitted to fit 20 or so people but it was only the two guides, Jeremy and I. We were exhausted all day; it was so hot and humid it drained us. After a delicious spaghetti dinner we headed straight to bed. The rooms were not screened in so we had individual screens over our beds.
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We really needed the nets, the bugs were incredibly bad. I had 100% deet bug spray and thought I was prepared. It turned out the only way to get away from them was to either be in the river down the hill from our site
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or in our screened in bed. Long sleeves helped but they still bit my neck. Plus it was just so hot to wear long sleeves. The locals aren’t bothered by the sand files, they have thick skin that is used to them they can’t bite through. The mosquitoes came out at dawn and dusk to add to the bites.

We went to bed no later than 10 and slept at least 11 hours. Exhausted.

The next day, we went for a swim while the guides cooked breakfast. We went for a short 1 hr hike to a mirador where we could have an overlook of the city.
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On the trail, Javier showed us some more medicinal plants, herbs, insects, and fruit.
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Javier demonstrated the weaving of the palm tree branches that the locals use for their roofs. Last 10 years!
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After the hike, we were completely drained again from the heat, so we napped..
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After lunch we went tubing. We hiked back up through the village

and took a canoe across the river. We jumped in for a 45 minute ride down stream. It was beautiful.
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So lush and green and relaxing. After napping once again, we had dinner.

After dinner, we headed out for a night hike. We would sit silently with our lights out and wait to see if any animals came by. None did. He would turn on the flashlight and show us tiny nocturnal spiders and other insects. Just sitting there in the dark was amazing with all the noises of diversity. The sky was so bright with stars.

We did run across a baby bird that couldn’t fly but not too much else.
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Our final day was pretty laid back. The idea was we were to visit with the village people. They showed us around their village including the community building
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The classrooms
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and we met the kids. Absolutely adorable. Javier gave us some animal crackers to give to the children as they formed a line.
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They had them sing a song to us, and we in turn sang back “the wheels on the bus go round and round” and “this is the song that never ends”
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We couldn’t help but laugh about how rough they played; one kid grabbed rock in his hand and slammed it over his friends head. Later on the same kid threw a rock at another kid. Violent!
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After playing with them for a little while, we went back across the river to their house.

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We met up with the rest of the family and also gave them animal crackers. It was clearly a treat for all of them. We gave some to a drunk guy and he hogged the rest of the bag.
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We packed all our things up and Javier quickly tried to show us how to pan for gold (but did not find any)
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We were initially going to take a canoe back to town, but our second guide randomly left on the second day. He said he had some sort of meeting and Javier was not to pleased about it. It was also tough for Jeremy and I because the other guide spoke english and did a lot of translating for us.

We told Javier we still wanted to take the canoe, and we weren’t sure why but he made us pay $20 to rent it from the family. It was well worth it as we had a nice relaxing hour and a half ride back.
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But of course, after a little while we decided it was down river and Javier could handle the steering so we napped đŸ™‚
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Emerging back to civilization definitely felt weird. It had seemed much longer than 3 days. We jumped in the back of a pickup and made our way the rest of the way to Mishualli.

Overall it was an amazing experience. Although at times the bugs were so bad I couldn’t wait to get back, in the end the bug bites will be gone and I will still have great memories.

If I were to do it again, I would definitely take the trip from Lago Igrio. It is deeper in the jungle where there are piranhas and more wildlife. I was disappointed we didn’t really see any animals, and we had to wait until the villager’s dogs stopped barking at night to hear the wildlife. The locals were also always buzzing up and down the river on motorboats so I felt we could have had a better jungle experience.

Misahualli day 2

The monkeys in this town are awesome. We woke up and headed to the main square and played with the monkeys for a good hour or two.

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They just run around and let you pet them or whatever. They crawl all over you. so awesome!

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The problem is, they take everything in sight. One crawled into my lap

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A few seconds later, another one snatched my sunglasses off my head from behind and ran away with it. He had them for a good 10 minutes and kept bending them, chewing on them, even tried putting them on. Hilarious.

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When I tried to get them, yelling at the monkey, another monkey behind me was in on it, he kept slapping me in the side of the head from behind and hissing at me

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We tried bribing him with a banana, but he still kept the glasses. Eventually one of the locals tossed him and egg and they immediately dropped my glasses (bent out of shape and both the lenses fell out).

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It was our theory that the monkeys must be trained so they steal things, because they know as a reward they will get an egg.

So hilarious. They were cheap glasses so I really didn’t care that much. But after that I really watched my shit. He actually got a hold of my glasses later in the day but Jose yelled at me so I grabbed them before he got them.

A couple of them had babies riding on their back. So ridiculously cute.

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We walked along the river and went swimming most of the afternoon.

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We had to go to Tena to go to the ATM and get some lunch.

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At night, we played basketball and soccer with some locals.

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Played some more with the monkeys

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We went out to dinner, took like 2 hours to get our food. We booked a 2 night 3 day trip to the jungle. Jose decided he doesn’t want to go so he is heading back to Quito with our Colorado friends we met on the bus, Cali and Katie. So only Jeremy and I are going. It was supposed to be $35 a night but since Jose wasn’t going it is $40 a night. Our last hostel recommended this place.

Should be interesting.. pretty excited. We will be doing a 5 hour hike tomorrow then staying in a local village. Next day more hiking and river rafting. I think at one point we take a boat. Battery dying, will touch base in few days!

Banos day 7/Misahualli day 1 (puenting)

Today we had plans to finally head out of Banos. We wanted to go on a jungle trip and were told that the trips based out of Banos weren’t as good. So we planned to head 4 hours North to a little town called Misahualli which is supposedly filled with monkeys. But first I wanted to do a couple more things around Banos. We had to wait for Jeremy because he was coming and he had his last paragliding lesson today. So first we headed over to the waterfall by the hot springs, because I hadn’t really gotten a good picture and wanted to climb up a path by them.

We climbed a little bit up the path then decided it wasn’t worth climbing up, was too slippery.

Jeremy got back early from his lesson because he got rained out, so we headed over to the bridge in town to go “puenting” I had no idea what this was. We showed up and there were a few guys standing on the side of the bridge with some climbing ropes.

This was it?? Seriously?? Soo sketch. I pretty much was about to back out, trying to decide if it was worth the risk or not. We didn’t see anyone else do it, and I had no idea how it worked. Jeremy talked me into it, so we harnessed up. I was shitting myself at this point and was seriously considering not doing it. We climbed up onto two platforms on the side of the bridge.

This was insane. I figured out at this point how it worked though, that the rope was attached to the other side of the bridge, so when you jumped off you would swing under the bridge to the other side. At first I thought that we were literally just jumping off the bridge and somehow these climbing ropes were going to stop us? Like bungee jumping with climbing ropes. Anyhow, I had slightly more confidence in their set up but I was still shitting myself. I am pretty sure that climbing ropes are supposed to be replaced after 1-2 falls or something, and I am sure these had thousands on them.

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Now Jeremy was the one that didn’t want to go, he was ready to back out. I was the one that was ready to go. So after a couple minutes we decided we would jump at the same time, and he counted 1..2..3.. jump! And jump we did..

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Soo scary. Only lasted a few seconds obviously then there was a guy at the bottom with a rope. He would keep tossing it to us until we grabbed it and he towed us in.

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Anyway, this was up there in the most crazy things I have done. More scary than bungee jumping and sky diving, at least you know those things are safe.

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After that, we headed to the bus station. We bought a $4 bus to Tena, but were instructed to have them first drop us off at a bridge just before Tena. We got dropped off, crossed the bridge, then caught another bus to Misahualli. This was about 45 mins further.

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This was a small town, it was already dark when we got here so we walked down to the river. We met a couple girls from Colorado on the bus. We grabbed dinner with them then we challenged some locals to a game called Ecuaball? Basically volleyball with a soccer ball. There was money on the game so we paid $15 to play against them and lost miserably, but it was a good time.

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Apparently all the monkeys are asleep, so tomorrow we are excited to see them, we were told you have to watch your stuff because all the monkeys try to steal your things. We also planned very poorly and are all out of money so have to catch a bus to Tena tomorrow to find an ATM, probably an hour or an hour and a half each way. We will check out the city while we are there and try to book our Amazon jungle excursion, 2 nights 3 days.

Banos day 6/Misahualli day 1 (puenting)

Today we had plans to finally head out of Banos. We wanted to go on a jungle trip and were told that the trips based out of Banos weren’t as good. So we planned to head 4 hours North to a little town called Misahualli which is supposedly filled with monkeys. But first I wanted to do a couple more things around Banos. We had to wait for Jeremy because he was coming and he had his last paragliding lesson today. So first we headed over to the waterfall by the hot springs, because I hadn’t really gotten a good picture and wanted to climb up a path by them.

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We climbed a little bit up the path then decided it wasn’t worth climbing up, was too slippery.

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Jeremy got back early from his lesson because he got rained out, so we headed over to the bridge in town to go “puenting” I had no idea what this was. We showed up and there were a few guys standing on the side of the bridge with some climbing ropes.

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This was it?? Seriously?? Soo sketch. I pretty much was about to back out, trying to decide if it was worth the risk or not. We didn’t see anyone else do it, and I had no idea how it worked. Jeremy talked me into it, so we harnessed up. I was shitting myself at this point and was seriously considering not doing it. We climbed up onto two platforms on the side of the bridge.

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This was insane. I figured out at this point how it worked though, that the rope was attached to the other side of the bridge, so when you jumped off you would swing under the bridge to the other side. At first I thought that we were literally just jumping off the bridge and somehow these climbing ropes were going to stop us? Like bungee jumping with climbing ropes. Anyhow, I had slightly more confidence in their set up but I was still shitting myself. I am pretty sure that climbing ropes are supposed to be replaced after 1-2 falls or something, and I am sure these had thousands on them.

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Now Jeremy was the one that didn’t want to go, he was ready to back out. I was the one that was ready to go. So after a couple minutes we decided we would jump at the same time, and he counted 1..2..3.. jump! And jump we did..

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Soo scary. Only lasted a few seconds obviously then there was a guy at the bottom with a rope. He would keep tossing it to us until we grabbed it and he towed us in.

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Anyway, this was up there in the most crazy things I have done. More scary than bungee jumping and sky diving, at least you know those things are safe.

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After that, we headed to the bus station. We bought a $4 bus to Tena, but were instructed to have them first drop us off at a bridge just before Tena. We got dropped off, crossed the bridge, then caught another bus to Misahualli. This was about 45 mins further.

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This was a small town, it was already dark when we got here so we walked down to the river. We met a couple girls from Colorado on the bus. We grabbed dinner with them then we challenged some locals to a game called Ecuaball? Basically volleyball with a soccer ball. There was money on the game so we paid $15 to play against them and lost miserably, but it was a good time.

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Apparently all the monkeys are asleep, so tomorrow we are excited to see them, we were told you have to watch your stuff because all the monkeys try to steal your things. We also planned very poorly and are all out of money so have to catch a bus to Tena tomorrow to find an ATM, probably an hour or an hour and a half each way. We will check out the city while we are there and try to book our Amazon jungle excursion, 2 nights 3 days.

Banos Day 6 (Canopy)

This morning I was a little hungover, but I had already told Jon last night that that I would go canopying with him again. I kind of regretted the decision at the time, because I had already gone and wanted to do something new.

But when we got there, it was very different location (San Martin) and in the end I was very glad I went. Overall it was an awesome experience.

After eating the same exact hostel breakfast I have been eating for 6 days straight, were picked up in a van at 10 and shuttled over to the location.

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This zip line first brought me down between two canyons over the river. They wouldn’t let me take my camera with me on this part because it was too fast, up to 120 kph. It was scary when they stopped because it ends in a cave and you are going so fast, head first into the wall of the cave.

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At the end of this part, there was a staircase strung by 2 cables between sections of the cliff, it was about 100 feet long. This was pretty fun to walk across definitely got my blood moving. We were cabled in with harnesses so it really was pretty safe.

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Once we climbed this part, we had to hike up a good section of the mountain. It was much longer than I had anticipated, hard to say but maybe 200 feet? Here there was also cabling to hold you in. In spanish he quickly told us to keep make sure there were always 2 carabiniers attached at once so we were always connected.

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After this, there was one more sideways stretch until we reached the next platform.

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I weigh 205 lbs.. and we were joking about the age limits of 4 minimum and 80 maximum.. would you send  your 4 year on this thing?? and an 80 year old woman??

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The ride back was pretty cool, at the end you could sense your speed because you went real close by the people waiting there, in the canyon it doesn’t feel like you are going that fast.

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When we got back, we grabbed our lunch from the same place down the road, felt like a home made meal by grandma. And only $2.50?? Still can’t get over how cheap it is, she must make $1 profit off the food she serves. Fresh mango juice with rice, chicken, salad, and soup for nothing.

I took a nap the rest of the day, sent out some postcards, basically relaxed. Met a few new guys and went to the hot springs. 3rd time now, love that place. Whenever I get out I just feel so warm, rejuvenated and relaxed.

It dawned on me today how much I love this place. There is just so much to do, and the weather has been holding up. The week went by so fast. I have good friends here and just feel so comfortable, feels like home.

However, Jon is headed out tomorrow and Jose and I planned to as well. Jeremy now wants to come to Colombia with us, and his training for his gliding isn’t done until tomorrow at 4. So Jose and I plan on renting a couple of the buggies and trying to see the volcano, since I still haven’t since the weather has been crap and I have been doing so much else. I also want to try “puenting” which is a giant swing from a bridge. Supposed to be awesome.

When Jeremy gets back we are going to head the 4 hours North to Tena. Tena is a huge kayaking destination and supposedly there are kayaks laying around at every hostel, there is also caving, white water rafting, and jungle trips.

The owner at my hostel told me that the jungle trips here really are not worth the time, and that we should head out of Tena.

Tena is the second best destination, but an even better one is about 8 hours away and is out of the way north to the border. The owner of the hostel said we should see insects, birds and lots of monkeys from Tena. There are river dolphins and crocodiles etc in the further away location. It is also more expensive from that location because it is in a national reserve.

I really will miss this place. What used to be a strange, foreign city now feels like a safe home where I have friends and know how to get around. I have had so many amazing experiences here, not sure yet, but I think it might be the best place I have ever traveled to.

Banos Day 5 (Road to Puyo/Diablo Falls)

Today we got up around 930 and planned to bike ride to the neighboring town Puyo about 63kms away, was supposed to be a beautiful drive.

We went to the travel agency we have been using and rented bikes for $5 for the day and headed out of town. Me, Jose, and john came along. Jose wasn’t too thrilled that John and I got up so late because he’s one of those “morning people”

We headed out of town and first drove past a dam.

A little further down the road we saw the first canopy tower. Canopying is basically zip lining in a lying down position. Looked awesome, it looked like the people we were watching were flying.

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Once I saw it I immediately decided that I had to do it. It was $10 to go one way across the canyon and return in the gondola, or $15 to go both ways. Was no decision to be made for me I chose both ways. They geared me all up and I went to the top of the tower.

They put my feet up in a sling and sent me off

I’m not sure how fast it went, but the whole thing only took about 30-40 seconds. It wasn’t quite as cool as it looked, but beautiful views. The only part that really got my adrenaline pumping was at the end when you are flying 40 mph at a dirt pile, but there was a guy at the end there to stop me. I snapped some photos en route.
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Beautiful. Once the guy at the other end unhooked me, I had to hike a few minutes uphill to latch into the other cable.
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The 15 year old kid at this end strapped me up and sent me back on my way.

After this we hit the road again. There were tons of tunnels, bridges, waterfalls along the way. Beautiful.
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Along the way we met a Swiss kid and a Canadian. They told us of a place called Diablo (Devil’s) falls, so we tagged along.

I went to grab an empinada and mentioned to everyone that I was doing so, but when I came back no one was in sight. I figured that maybe they didn’t hear me and had headed down, so I started hiking down the trail.
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I think the trail was 1k long, so it only took about 20 minutes to get down (all downhill) until I reached the falls.
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Before entering the park there was a guy collecting an entry fee of $1.50. There were 3 levels to the falls.
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To gain access to the top of the falls, you had to crawl through a cave, ridiculous.
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This tunnel went on for about 50 feet then opened back up a little bit
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You had to climb up some stairs
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Then there was a platform
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The last stairway led to right behind the waterfall
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My friends weren’t there, so I back traced through everything again and started heading back to see if I could find them at the top of the trail maybe. I ran into Jose and apparently they had waited 20 mins for me before deciding to just head down. So I crawled back through the tunnel-path with them to the top.
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We hiked all back uphill to the road, and stopped at a stand to grab a fresh half carrot half orange juice for $1.
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We headed back out, and it started raining. Rain was spraying from the tires into our eyes, so we stopped around kilometer 23 out of the 60 we needed to go. I wanted to continue our ride to Puyo but no one else did so I wasn’t about to go on my own.
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We grabbed some lunch and a beer from a stand on the side of the road, and thats when we started to get uncomfortable and cold. We flagged down a bus and they threw our bikes underneath.
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We showered up a bit, napped, and went to a bar called Leprechaun. Main club in town. Jon was bitching that the 30 ounce beers here were “expensive” because they costed $3. Drank fairly heavily and got to sleep around 3.

Banos Day 4 (Mirador La Cruz Bellavista)

Woke up to a knock on my door today that I had a guest waiting for me in the lobby. Jose had arrived!

We caught up, and once again had oatmeal, bread with jam, and coffee for breakfast. It would be my last day with Andrea as she was taking off for Quito.

Jose had yet to see the town, so we walked around a bit. I really just planned on relaxing today since we had been non stop going since my arrival.

We strolled by the church in town and went inside to take some photos. Although we walk by it every day in the center of town I had not gotten around to actually checking it out.

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We went inside the church, which was in session since it was a Sunday. It was really weird because half the people in there were tourists taking photos and in the way, flashes etc, and the other half did not look too pleased and were actually attending the mass.

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After this, we kind of loosely were deciding what to do, and thought about doing the bike ride to the neighboring town Puyo. Picked up a bag of chopped sugarcane for a dollar, which you chew, was really tasty. In the end we decided to do the hike up to Mirador La Cruz Bellavista.

This was essentially a 45 minute semi-strenuous hike up to a cross that had a viewpoint of Banos.

To get here, we walked through the center of town on Ambato and the trail started at the end of the road on Maldonado.

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We started our hike up the trail.

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On our way there were some nice views

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Until we reached the top

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We hungout for a few minutes up here, which was cool because although we were up so high, we could see everything that was going on down in the city. We could hear music playing from the carnival, hear the sirens from the police car. It was like a sim-city. Gave a good overview of the city.

On the way back down the trail, it only took us about 20 minutes because we ran the whole way. We saw a vacant building so climbed through the barb wire to get some pictures. Real chill spot.

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We strolled through the market in town

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A little while later we got dinner with Kristal & Rich. They are heading South tomorrow to Cuenca. We talked about how close you get to people that you haven’t even known that long when down here, a certain type of bonding that you don’t experience except when traveling. Although we only have known eachother for a week we have gone through a lot of experiences together. And the amount of time we spent together in 1 week would probably take months in our everyday lives in the states. Things are just so much slower down here, we get to spend much more time together, never having to rush off and go anywhere. Every meal we have together is at least 1-2 hours.

Right now we are all watching Ted which I have seen 3x since I got here.

It’s funny, all the movies down here are rip-offs crappy quality that I guess you can buy for a dollar. But the people down here really wouldn’t be able to afford paying the $20 we pay for a DVD at home. Jose was talking to one of the shop workers and the minimum salary here is $350/month. So we really are rich compared to these people, no way they could afford to come out to our “gringo” restaurants paying $10 a meal.

Tomorrow we have plans to do the 60 kilometer bike ride to Puyo. This is supposed to be an awesome road, with tunnels going along the mountainside. There is zip lining etc along the way that we plan on doing. Once we get to Puyo we will catch a bus home.