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Day 155 - Ruta de las Cascadas

ECUADOR | Monday, 3 November 2014 | Views [310]

Our same group from the Casa Del Arbol mission reconvened for a market breakfast and then a day of cycling through Banos’ Rutas de las Cascadas, showcasing some of Ecuador’s 60 best waterfalls. We managed to negotiate bikes for $4 each for the whole day which wasn’t too bad notwithstanding that they weren’t necessarily in the best condition. 

We had planned to ride between 15-30kms along the route, aiming to end at Cascada El Diablo which is arguably the most impressive on the route. Being told that the journey was mostly downhill we were somewhat surprised by the strong headwind and several hills. Cruising along the route we stopped at a fair few places along the way, including at a random little roadside restaurant where we were given free Colada Morada’s as part of festivities for the Ecuadorian ‘Dia del Escudo Nacional’ or ‘National Seal Day’ which happens to coincide with Halloween and also the upcoming All Soul’s Day. Colada Morada loosely translates as dark purple strained and is a traditional Ecuadorian beverage prepared with black corn flour and fruits including oranges, babaco, pineapple, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. It is sweetened with panela and given extra flavour from cinnamon, allspice, cloves and herbs including lemongrass. Traditionally the drink is served with bread figures shaped like babies - t’anta wawa although we didn’t have those, just the drink. It was pretty tasty and to our surprise served warm! 

While we were checking out Rio Verde we were randomly approached by a film crew who said they worked for the Ecuadorian Government or at least the Banos Mayor and were filming a promotional commercial that they wanted us to be in. Radek, Tomas and I agreed to be filmed - we didn’t have to do anything other than keep standing on the bridge and chatting. Hardly dynamic or adventurous but hey, if we appear on a billboard one day somewhere in Banos then so be it. 

We weren’t able to ride all the way to El Diablo, so we chained our bikes up at a little cafe run by an effervescent Ecuadorian woman called Mercedes and hiked down to the waterfall. After crawling through wet, rocky cave like tunnels we were definitely impressed once we arrived at this powerful cascada. Our efforts were further rewarded with the perfect double rainbows over the base as we stood in our bathers at the top, drenched by the epic spray back and mist. 

All of us agreed we were not riding all the way back so we hopped in the back of a truck with our bikes and headed back to Banos for the afternoon. I decided to make use of the $25 90 minute massage and pedicure special at a local beautician and found a decent haircut including a shampoo and blow dry for $5! It’s been a good five months since I had a trim so it was well overdue and she actually did a great job!

Also it turned out a girl that I met in El Salvador, Stephanie was living in Banos to do spanish school so we arranged to meet up for dinner. She brought a friend of hers, Nina, a german/british journalist who was making a documentary about environmental issues in Ecuador. We went to this excellent little place, Cafe Hood, ate tasty food, drank vino tinto and chatted for hours. Of course once the restaurant closed we also felt the need to sample some of Banos’ finest mojitos, and at $2.50 a drink it was inevitable that we would have several and end up in seedy clubs dancing to bad 90s music interspersed randomly with latino salsa tracks.  

Steph is living with one of the local tour guides so we ended up linking up with him and a heap of his mates which progressed to an after party at their apartment. One of the guys was boasting about his musical talents and numerous instruments - he even said he had made and could play his own didgeridoo. I didn’t believe him so he went and got it and proved me wrong. I have never been serenaded by an Ecuadorian rasta trying to teach me to salsa while also playing a home-made didgeridoo before- so this was a real first and highly entertaining :) It was all good fun.

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