Planet Hiker
2004-10-13 Adrenaline dosage of Banos, Ecuador


It took me two days of doing nothing but eating and sleeping to recover from Cotopaxi experience. On the third day I was finally ready to be active again. Fortunately, Baņos, the town that I was staying at, had no shortage of things to do. One of the more famous ways of spending a day is renting a mountain bike and cruising down nearly 60 kilometers to the town of Puyo. Most of the way is downhill, so you don't need to have the genes of Lance Armstrong (just make sure that the seat is cushy).

So down I went, zooming by buses and cars! The mountainous road took me past waterfalls, gorges, and occasional construction workers, all along while presenting one mind numbing view after another. There is one particular water fall that struck me absolutely magical. You know the photos of waterfalls where the shutter is held open long enough for water to blur into long strands of, what one may call, angel hair? Well, I was standing in front of a waterfall and it looked like something out of a long-exposure photograph (no, I was not under the influence). The gentle stream of water was dropping from a hight of about 20 meters, shattering itself over and over again on the sharp edges of a near vertical cliff. As a result, the droplets were being spliced into a fine mist that descended slowly to the ground. What was a bit disappointing was that if I were to take a picture of it, it would just look like an average, long exposure photo. So I spent couple of minutes concentrating on remembering the feeling of being there, and then continued on.

After some time, I came across a tall bridge where a guy in an orange hat waved me down. He explained to me that he is running a "rope jumping" off of this bridge. It's something like a bungee jumping but, as he claimed, is safer. I did not have any plans of jumping off a bridge that day, but I asked how much it costs never the less. It was only $10, which made it almost "too good to be true". So I got off the bike, put on the harness, jumped off the bridge, and having lightened my wallet, continued peddling towards Puyo.

A few hours later, I reached an attractive restaurant on the side of the road, that specialized in preparing trout, caught in the nearby river. I gorged myself on the delicious meal, consisting of a baked whole trout, over a plate of rice, accompanied with a bowl of fried yucca and a tall glass of maracuya. After such a heavy meal, I knew that I am done paddling for the day. Puyo was still a few more kilometers down the road, but I faineantly walked the bike to the bus stop and awaited there for the ride back to Baņos.