The next day Brad and I went on a 3 hour hike through the mountains. There are so many hikes and it totally beats running down Duval road everyday. I could definitely get used to the outdoors here. Also, I have attended a couple aerobics classes in Spanish at the local gym. It is absolutely hilarious...Natura and I are the tallest (only white girls) in the class. This morning we did "Latin Dance Moves". You better believe that my ass was sweating too. Hopefully this helps improve my skills in the discotecas.
A few days ago I decided to take a tour through the mountains by horseback. No one else wanted to go with me, so I went alone. It was just me and this 18 year old guide, Edwin. I didn´t really know what to expect from the tour considering the last time I was on a horse was in Mackinac Island, Michigan when I was about 10....I just imagined myself riding on this grand stallion through the mountains of Ecuador totally comfortable on this perfect robotic horse. I kinda forgot about the whole "live animal" thing though. Ya know...the part where your life is now in the hands of this 4-legged creature on the side of a cliff. Needless to say, the tour was a memorable experience. As soon as I got on the horse I was reminded that I did not know how the hell to ride a horse and decided I was just going to hold on for my life. Edwin took me through the mountains and I saw gushing rivers, waterfalls, flowers....it was beautiful. There were a few moments though that I wondered how in the world this horse was going to get me through that passage way...or down this side of this cliff. Edwin was a hoot, too. I was practicing my spanish with him...and he was so interested in why I did not have a boyfriend in the states. I just laughed and giggled because I just wanted Edwin to get me home alive. The horse tour was a blast, but I am not sure that I will do another one on my trip. I can hardly walk today!
Besides outdoor adventures, Baños is known for its natural volcanic springs....a few times each week we go and soak in them. You sit in the hot water for a few minutes, then sit in the freezing water from the waterfall...and go back and forth. It is supposed to add years to your life.
I cannot emphasize how great this town is, I can picture myself studying here for a year and doing a new adventure each day. It is small, safe, and the people are nice. Not to mention, I have found some fabulous places to eat.
The past 2 weeks I have been living this fantastic, comfortable routine in my new home. However, I have also talked to several travelers passing through. Many of them coming from the jungle or Machu Pichu...heading to Colombia or Central America. Their stories are awesome and it makes me want to go out and see some things. Originally, my plan for this part of my trip was dedicated to learning spanish. I was going to come down here and spend 6-8 weeks in a town and just study my butt off. I decided that I would not visit certain places because that would take away from my time to learn spanish. Well, even though this town is awesome, I have made the decision to change my plan a bit and go out and see things. I have a lifetime to learn spanish, but who knows when I will ever be back in South America again. I think it is worth skipping 2 weeks of Spanish to visit Machu Pichu. So, I bought a ticket to Peru. I wasnt planning on seeing Machu Pichu at all as it is almost rainy season, but I have already decided that rain or shine...it will be an experience that I will never forget. It will consist of 4 to 5 days of hiking so it should be a nice challenge for me. Now don´t get me wrong, learning spanish is still very important to me and I will continue to study and take classes....just not as many weeks as I had planned.
I also realized, that after South America, I will be traveling to places around the world that will not be speaking spanish. I unfortunetaly will lose some of my speaking skills. So, I have another idea of swooping back through South or Central America on the last leg of my trip to refresh before I head back to Texas next year...we will see how things go. "Vamos a Ver"
Anyways, I am really excited for my trip to Peru next week....it will be the first time I am officially alone, so hopefully everything goes alright. I will be gone for 12 days until I regroup with Brad back in Ecuador (before we head into Colombia). Anywho, I´ve added a few more pics to the Baños album on Picasa. Ciao Ciao