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January 1, 2012

Quito to Banos - What Time Change?

Whew. Stiflingly hot in my room. I'm pretty sure that added to my weird sleep this morning. Woke early--maybe 6:45? Sun beating on me from a window right next to the bed. Then back to sleep a bunch and had a hard time waking up and adjusting when I did finally wake, before my alarm, at 10:30 or so. But now I think I'm okay with the world. Here we go!


The weather is ridiculous. It's hot! This is not the Quito I remember!

[Indeed, it was not the Quito I remembered. It was unseasonably warm. Except it had nothing to do with the season. It was just plain hot. That's all there was to it. It was strangely hot. I really did wish I was wearing shorts or a skirt instead of pants. This is very unusual for Quito.

I went to a park called El Ejido that's in a commercial center in hopes of buying a phone. But since it was Sunday, and a holiday, everything was closed. But this also meant the park was packed. It was fun to walk through and watch the people.]

It feels breezy. A lovely day--a day in the park! I don't even need this awesome jacket. Maybe the whole trip. I need a skirt, and sunblock! And sunglasses. And a hat.

[It's a good think I brought the jacket. I wore it every day, including that evening. Banos, as it turns out (I couldn't remember), can be chilly too.

After the fruitless but nice visit to the park, I headed out for Rosi and Modesto's house, where I stayed last time I was in Ecuador.]

I am just beside myself that I've learned the metro bus system. 25 cents! Why did I not know this before? It's brilliant!

[We had plans to have lunch at 1:30. I was running a little late, but felt like I was doing pretty well, considering I don't know the city that well.

At their door, however, they greeted me with "We were so worried! We thought something happened!"

Okay, I was a little late, but Rosi did say between 1 and 1:30 and I said 1, so I didn't think 1:15 was that bad. They fawned over me a little more and I apologized but was a little confused. I mean, come on.

We sat in the living room to chat. So good to see you, they said. How are you? We were so worried! Something must have happened. We waited and waited, and we're sorry but we ate.

You--you ate? What, you waited 5 minutes, and then scarfed it all down in another 5?

And then I figured it out.

"What time is it?"

Yep. I'm an idiot. I was going off my iPhone, which had updated the time in Houston, but not after. Because I had it in airplane mode so as not to get charged for any service. And I hadn't bothered to 1) look up the time change from Boulder to Quito (I know, I know...) and 2) thought to but forgot to ask the woman at the hostel what time it was as I checked out.

Which means a few things. I didn't get to the hostel at close to 3 a.m.--I got there at close to 4 a.m. And I checked out an hour late, at 1 p.m. And, of course, I was an hour and 15 minutes late to see Rosi and Modesto instead of just 15 minutes late. It also meant I was an hour behind my intended schedule to get to the bus for Banos.

[Rosi in her living room. Note the wax nativity on the right, catching that great light they get through their dreamily big window.]

[I took this for my mom. All the pieces are handmade.]

I left their place at around 4:30 (the for-real 4:30) to get to the bus terminal. The first cab wanted $10! No way! So I got out. The next cab wanted $20. I paid him $13. Sigh.

At the terminal, I was told there would be no bus until 10:30 p.m. I dejectedly took this to mean that everything was full until then, since it was a holiday weekend. But check back with the other companies, they said. Good, I thought, something might open up.

Funny thing about Ecuador. They have more than one bus company. Curious, no? And maybe it's even more curious that in a country (the U.S.) that frowns upon monopolies there's only really one bus company. Anyway. They have more than one bus company, all leaving from the same terminal. I was proud of myself for understanding this part of the system.

But when I was up walking around and found that there was a bus leaving for Banos at 7 (hooray!) and then I got on that bus and there were fewer than ten of us, I felt like I was back to square one. I'd originally thought that a spot opened up on a full bus, but apparently a whole bus opened up. Do they just add and take away buses at will? Did a bus driver wake up from a nap and say "Hey, honey, I think I'm going to drive to Banos. Call the company and make me some coffee, will you?"

[Strolling in the Quito bus terminal at night.]

Well, whatever. Getting on a bus at 7 was much better than having to wait until 10:30.

The bus was in cruise mode. I forewent the bad action movie shown in the front of the bus to listen to some of my interviews from last time on my iPod, which is also how I spent much of my flights. (When I wasn't waxing poetic about the clouds.) I think we were in Banos by 10:30.

And I went to my hostel. The one I had found by looking not-very-hard online, and had called to say I'd be in late. (Turns out there are still pay phones in this world!) And I buzzed the door. And it was opened by.... the guide Judah and I had last year to take us to the jungle. When it was just Judah, me, and the guide. (Awkward.) The one who told us he had five women who didn't know about each other. The one who explained to us that a drum was an instrument, and that you hit it with a big stick to make music. The one who was supposed to speak English but didn't. I almost wanted to run. Either away, or in to my room to e-mail Judah and tell him right away so we could burst out laughing. I held it in. If he recognized me, he didn't let on. And as it turned out, he wasn't the regular night guy. I think I only saw him two more times in my stay there.

I dropped my stuff in my room and went out to walk around with my camera. Banos has a little bit of everything everywhere, but it makes life simple for tourists by concentrating things in small stretches. There are two blocks of concentrated family restaurants and artisan shops, leading from the church square to the town hall square. There are two blocks of bars, perpendicular to and halfway down the restaurant strip. One block has both the supermarket and the --nonsupermarket? (There's also an open-air market a few blocks away on the weekends, blowing my simplicity theory to poop.) Since this was still a holiday weekend--Monday was a national holiday--the streets were hopping. Including the bars, funnily enough. I learned later that by law in Ecuador no alcohol can be sold, in bars anyway, on Sundays. But apparently it's more of a night-before-we-start-the-week thing than a Sunday thing, because the bars were definitely open that Sunday night. And definitely closed on Monday.

[One of the town's main attractions.]

[Busy Banos.]

[The bar strip.]

[The town hall? Or a party?]

Small kids were still running around with their parents when I headed to my new home an hour or so later. Welcome to Banos.]

Posted by beth at January 1, 2012 11:35 PM

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