The road from Mindo to Baños was pretty long – about 7 hours, but the worst part is that I opted for the 6:30am bus. Ugh. I dont know why I bother with these early buses but I keep doing it to myself! This was also the first time I navigated transportation on my own, since my travel buddies from Mindo left a day before me.
At any rate, the drive was beautiful and I made it to Baños in time to see it in it’s sunniest state!
Baños is apparently the taffy capital of the world. On every street you will see at least 2 or 3 stores where someone is pulling the taffy right at the store entrance. It is pretty impressive to see them work (literally all day too!) and if you are lucky they just might let you sample somecas you walk by! Yum yum! Sadly all my pictures of this are not on my tablet but there is a video on my instagram if you wanna see it!
One of the other things that Baños is famous for are their hotsprings! I was lucky enough to run into my friends from Mindo and we all met up to enjoy the hotsprings alongside the locals! We all looked ridiculous because bathing caps were mandatory… nothing make you feel more like a goof than these stupid thing on your head! Silly looking and all, we had a lot of fun shocking our bodies by going from hot to cold to hot to cold! One of the pools was so hot I could barely even put my feet in it – eek! Some people though seemed to be happy in there, boiling themselves up…
There is also a crazy culture of extreme sports in Baños, including biking (extreme because of the drivers in this country!), bridge jumping (kind of ljke bungree jumping but with a static rope and full harness), paragliding and the one that I was brave enough to try – whitewater rafting! I really like rafting and have been lucky to do it on numerous occasions in California, Costa Rica and on the the west coast of Canada. This river was nestled between the mountains and absolutely beautiful. I was automatically put on the “Extreme Boat” since I had rafted before, which really meant “flipping is acceptable on this boat only”. I thi k the guides tried to knock us out a few times but we had some weak paddlers so we always ended up missing most of the big waves. We did catch a couple though and one had us almost near vertical, holding on for our dear lives! One wussy spot caught us off guard and everyo e flipped on top of me! It was freaky for sure, but the name of the game is to stay calm and I found my way out. The guides didnt speak much english, but one spoke french so we had a good laugh about the look on my face after the panic wore off. All in all it was pretty fun!
I spent most of my remaining time in Baños slumming the streets and markets. Most of the tourist shops are the same but I found one place that sell scrunchies!!! It made me wish I had long hair again! I lived for these when I was a kid and had soooooo many to match my gymnastics suits.
The weather turned grizzly after my rafting adventure and there was only one thing I still wanted to do… visit the swing at the end of the world! I actually stuck around for an extra day just to see the skies clesr enough to make this happen. But the results were amazing!
Pretty magical, right? The views up here are gorgeous and on a clearer day you would see that the mountain behind me is avtually a volcano! Most guide books talk about how you have to hike 4 hours up hill to get here, but I took a bus for $1 that took 30 min. Waaaayyyy easier lol. Also I met some really nice americans on the bus, who not only took the photo above for me, but they invited me out later to have pizza dinner with them! Anyway, if you want to see what the rope is actually connected to, here is the full “casa del arbor”:
On the way down, there were cows and a rainbow!
That pretty much sums up Baños! My next stop: Montanita, a 11 hour bus journey down from the mountains on the Pacific coast…