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Turning 30 South American Style With the dreaded 30th birthday looming, I ran away to South America to celebrate the landmark birthday in style.

Banos, which hopefully means bath, not toilet.

ECUADOR | Wednesday, 9 July 2008 | Views [1299]

Lovely Banos is a smashing little town, surrounded by forest topped mountians and waterfalls and blessed with an ambudance of natural hot springs. It is a really beatiful place with lots of lovely hostels, restaurants, coffe shops, book exchanges and more than its fair share of great cakes. We checked in to the most beautiful hostel that is heartbreakingly cheap and has a lovely little balcony. Unfortuantely it is so cold and wet here at the moment that any attempt to sit out on the balcony would be just plain foolish.

The aformentioned lovely cakes in mind, we headed out yesterday for a long walk in the mountains. A few minutes into the uphill walk we noticed a local lady struggling to carry a barbecue up the path and I foolsihly offered to help. She handed the thing right over and after struggling for a bit carrying it between me and Steve, he decided it was easier to just lug the thing uphill himself. And so began the half hour sprint uphill with a barbecue, Ecuadorian family in hot pursuit behind. We dropped off the barbecue at the ladies house nearly at the top and she rewarded us by ofering us a coke each. We declined, said a quick hello to her kids and their turtle and headed off. But as we reached the viewing platform at the top we cut short our plans for a four hour walk. The weather was bad, we were absolutely freezing and the clouds were obscurring the view of the volcanoe behind the hills we had come to see anyway.

Instead, we headed back downhill, put on out swimming trunks and headed to the banos for a soak in the hot springs. Set at the base of the hill with a waterfall tumbling right into the pools, they ranged from freezing cold plunge pool (empty) to luke warm pool (packed with kids) to absolutely boiling hot stock pot the colour of chicken soup. Add a few celery sticks, carrot and a bouquet garni and you would have a lovely meal. We skipped out the middle pool as it was swarming with kids and sitched between the freezing pool for about ten seconds and then the boiling pool. There were so many minerals in the water your skin was prickling all over the moment you hit the water. With nothing else to do all afternoon we sat back looked up at the mountains and enjoyed. Ahhh, bliss.

Tags: banos, bathe, ecuador, equador, hot springs, minerals, restaurant, volcano, walk, waterfall

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