Monday, January 30, 2012

Taking the Bus from Quito to Baños in Ecuador

In Quito looking for the easiest way to get to Baños to enjoy a couple days or weeks of relaxation. You don´t want to start that vacation with a strenous ride to the bus station, or spend extra money on a long taxi ride to the bus station do you? Well don´t worry this little explanation will get you from Quito to Baños for around 4 dollars (USD). First off if you are in either New or Old Town Quito you are going to want to get on the bus which runs in the middle of the street in the bus-emergency only lanes. (note: there are other buses, usually blue, which drive the standard streets as well but the center buses were much easier) In New Town they run on Avenida 6 de deciembre and in Old town you can get on the trolley. (Make sure you are heading south because the Quitumbe Terminal is located in South Quito) The buses cost 25 cents and will take you all the way to Quitumbe if that´s what they say on the front of the bus, the buses we know for sure go all the way to the terminal are labeled C1. You can take other buses to the Terminal Terrestre del CumandaAddress:‎ and get off there and wait for a C1 or any other bus labeled Quitumbe. You won´t be asked to pay again if you stay on the terminal platform. This is what we did and the first Quitumbe bus which came by was very full and we decided to try our luck at the next one and it worked out, the second bus was pretty much empty and still heading to Quitumbe. If you are getting on anywhere from New to Old Town to Quitumbe I would suggest finding a seat because it is about a 20-30 minute ride to the Terminal. Once at the Terminal everything is well-marked and easy to understand (if you have a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish, hint Boletos are tickets so just follow that sign.) This post is just to get you to Baños because that is what we did but really it will get you to anywhere the buses go from Quito. Back to the directions, all you have to do once at the bus terminal is find the ticket (boleto) window for the destination of your choosing, pay your ticket fee (3.50USD a person from Quito to Baños), and find the bus number which matches your ticket. The buses are very nice, reclinable seats, fresh air from above, underbus and overseat storage, in-drive movies, and beautiful views. One thing to note is that your tickets come with assigned seats for the bus so don´t just pick a seat go to the correct number above the seat which matches your ticket. Our ride took about three and half hours and was very pleasant, we hope yours goes as smoothly.

Artist: Maurice Montero

A while back when we were in Quito Caye´s cousin, Claudia, took us to see the studio of an artist named Maurice Montero who creates amazing kinetic sculptures. Montero is a South American transplant originally from France who settled in Ecuador because (as seems to be the norm with a bunch of folks we´ve met) he fell in love with a wonderful woman and couldn´t be torn away. Back to the art. Because I hold artists who work primarily with their hands and also those who work in intricate, intimate detail (Maurice fits into both these) in such high standards it was a real treat for me going to his studio. Even though I had only seen brief examples of his work when I was undergoing my BFA program. It was wonderful that he was able to take some time out of his day and show us new works, old works, and ones in between along with the details of his amazing studio. I´ll let the photos talk now but if you want to read more about him you can check out the book (if you can find it), Arte Mecanico.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Review - Hostel Erupcion, Banos, Ecuador

We stayed three nights at Erupcion Hostel & Restaurant in Baños, Ecuador. Hostel Erupcion is located at the corner of Haflants and Ambato above a Hardware store about 4 blocks from the bus stop. The Hostel is run by a middle-aged Ecuadorian woman who is fantastic and is there for at least some of the day (if not the whole day) in the reception/kitchen area. There were two other regular workers who we talked to at least once the three days we stayed there. The employees speak English about as well as I speak Spanish (not the greatest) but we had no troubles with any of the interpretations of our rudimentary Spanish. We rented a private double for 9.50/person/night which included breakfast, towels, shampoo, and toilet paper (important). The room was small with a full sized bed, a twin bed, and a private bathroom with hot showers. The bed was comfortable but the pillows left something to be desired though, they seemed to be old couch cushions but in the end it was just fine. What really made the stay nice was the breakfast. Breakfast was served from 8-10 everday and included fresh juice, bread rolls, queso, two eggs, instant coffee or hot chocolate, and an amazing balcony deck on which to enjoy the food and the sites of one of Baños´ parks which was across the street from the Hostel. The covered balcony was really nice not just for breakfast but also enjoying a couple of cervezas at night and people watching. The only complaint we had besides the pillows was that since it was in the middle of the "downtown" area it stayed noisy for most of the night but it really didn´t impede our sleep too much.

Belated Baños: Canyoning.

We had an awesome day of canyoning in Baños. We repelled down about 5 waterfalls, some of which I, Jena, was absolutely terrified for. If you are looking to go in Baños we recommend GEO Tours. The guides were fun and we felt like our money was well spent.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Belated Banos: Walking and Food.

Friday, January 27, 2012


After leaving Quito on the night of the 20th via a frightening 8 hour twisty turny bus ride to Guayaquil, Ecuador we made our way to another 30 hour bus ride through the desert of Peru to Lima. Along the way we enjoyed beautiful views of the desert and giant sand dunes rolling into the Pacific. During the long ride we were entertained by lots of movies and a team of young futbol players who ended the last hour of the trip singing team songs.  Morgan was not annoyed at all... ;) We stayed in Lima for 3 nights and 4.5 days just checking out the city and trying to figure out our plan for getting to Cuzco. Most of what we heard about Lima labeled it as a crime ridden dust bowl but we actually ended up liking it and we had a great hostel (Flying Dog) right in one of the main squares which allowed for great people watching.

On the 25th, we caught a 20 hour bus ride from Lima here to Cuzco. We had heard that the bus ride was horribly frightening due to curvy mountain roads with shear drop offs most of the way. Most people we talked to and travel blogs we read advised taking a cheap flight. The flight sounded ideal, unfortunately they were anything but cheap so the bus was really our only option. Luckily, the ride wasn´t as frightening as we had heard from other travelers. Maybe that was because we drove through a good amount in the dark so we were unable to see the deadly cliffs awaiting one small mistake by the driver or maybe it was because we have been on so many buses equal (or nearly equal) in anxiety inducing turns that we have come to accept the thrilling rides.

So, now it is the 27th of January and we arrived in Cuzco yesterday. It´s hard to believe that almost a month has gone by since we were back in the midwest with family and friends. At the same time it feels like we have been gone for a long time because we´ve done so much and been so many places. For now we sit in our hostel, Flying Dog Cuzco(also a great hostel), interneting and warming up with some hot tea and cacao leaves. Tomorrow we plan taking a couple of buses to the small town of Santa Maria and then hiking to Aguas Calientes, which is the last stop before Machu Picchu!

Belated Banos: Car Wreck.

The day we arrived in Banos a student driver and the instructor had an accident which sent them down a 400+ foot cliff, two days afterward it took 6 hours to pull the car up the embankment and onto the bed of a trailer. This was on the way home from a wonderful day of biking and waterfall watching, a sombering way to end an otherwise wonderful day.

Belated Banos: Waterfalls and Mountain Biking.

17 waterfalls or so in one day. 804 stairs to see two of them. Totally worth it.