Anyways, we arrived to Baños alive and well. Brad was refreshed from his sleep and I looked like a mad woman from hell, but I was thankful that we made it there safely.
As soon as I stepped off the bus into Baños I immediately felt positive energy from the town. It is surrounded by plush green mountains and there is even a waterfall that falls right into the city. There are tons of hikes and outdoor activities and 3 big spanish schools. Not to mention, they are famous for their "hot baths" that are from natural springs...hence the name Baños. I was excited because I knew that this was going to be my home for the next few weeks. I had been bouncing all over the place since I started my trip and was looking forward to chilling out a bit. We found a Spanish school....Brad and I had an interview session with the teachers so they could see what level we were at. This session consisted of me and Brad staring aimlessly at them and laughing non stop. I started crying I was laughing so hard....we decided we needed seperate tutoring sessions since we clearly could not speak spanish in front of each other without making fun of each other.
We spent a few days in Baños hiking and checking out the city, then it was the weekend. Brad had met some people off couch surfing ( a website where you can stay at people´s homes for free around the world) and they invited us to Guayquil for Halloween. I wasn´t super excited to hop back on a bus since I was feeling comfy in Baños...but I also love Halloween and wanted to have a good time. Off again we went...for another weekend of travel. We arrived in Guayquil..which is the biggest city in Ecuador. It is much more modern and active then Quito. I bought a mardi gras mask for $1 in the bus station and Brad bought a cowboy hat and american flag hankercheif...our costumes were ready to go. We met up with his friends and they took us to this posh club called ZOUK... for only a few dollars we got into the club and there was an open bar. For some reason, Ecuadorians are not very big drinkers. In fact, most of the people we were with hardly drank. So it was kinda akward when the Ecuadorians asked me and Brad why we were holding 2 drinks at a time all night long....haha.
I have always known that I was a bad dancer, in fact, it is something I have just accepted about myself. But never before have I felt more ridiculous about my dancing then in a thriving latin american dance club. 100s of people were smashed into each other salsa and grinding for hours. Their bodies were sweaty and they just shaked and moved harder and harder throughout the night. Then there was me....I seriously must have looked to Elaine from Seinfield. I looked like a wet dog from the heat of everyone around me and was timidly trying to shake my hips and look like I knew what I was doing. I am not sure if people really noticed me...or if they even cared, but I did feel pretty akward. I decided it was best if I just sat at the bar and drank...plus it was cooler at the bar :) People are also way more touchy in Latin America. Men will come up to you and grab your hands and twirl you off to dance. They love to hug and kiss and hold each other, even if you are just friends. I am not a very touchy person...so this is something that I am having to get used to.
After the dance club we went back to our friend´s house. There was not a lot of sleeping room and I ended up staying the night in a single bed with this girl that I had just met. It is amazing how nice people are in Latin America, they will take the floor or offer their bed to people they hardly even know....I felt akward sharing a bed with this girl, but she felt honored to be able to host me. It is a completely different culture here...one that is taking me a bit to get used to...but the more I learn about it, the more I love it.
The next day we walked around Guayquil and then went to a restuarant for dinner to enjoy some beers and listen to music. They love music here and around every corner you can hear a band or a solo artist playing instruments just about any time of the day. I decided that if I ever got married then I would have a latin american band at my wedding. I think I should marry Mathew McConaughey because they love bongo drums down here. Anyways, Brad and I decided to get a hotel this night because I felt bad sharing a single bed with the girl. Of course, penny pincher Brad knew of a cheap place since he had stayed in this city before. On the way to the hotel he told me that it was actually a¨"pay-by-the-hour" hotel and that it was not very classy. GGeezzz! Not classy is an understatement. This place was awful! We had our own rooms and you pay $7 and that lasts through the night if you wish. It didn´t seem like many people stayed the entire night though. I had my own room..which consisted of a bed, a tv, and a bathroom. The bed only had a base sheet on it. I tried the fan, but it went to moc 10 speeds and I thought it might rip off the ceiling and fly into the sky...so I turned it off. The TV only had 2 volumes...loud and REAlly loud. I soon realized why this was the case though. The strangest part of this room was this vent/window thing that opened up to the center of the hotel. Brad said that all the rooms had this. Now, why in the world would you have a ¨pay-by-the-hour¨hotel that had open vents in each room into the middle of the hotel? It was the stupidest thing I have ever seen in my life. I layed in bed and turned my TV on so as not to hear ALLLLL the other people in the hotel through my vent. I will add this to my list of horrible/akward/gross places that I stay in my round the world trip.
After the weekend, we got back on the fun bus ride back to Baños. I met a girl the week before and she introduced us to a family in the town. We arranged to live with them for a week while we studied spanish. When we arrived to their house I felt safe and comfortable. They have a very welcoming home and it was nice to climb into bed....far far away from the Pay-by-the-hour hotel.
As I am writing this blog, it is now Monday....we started proper spanish class today and I really enjoyed it. I have soooo much to learn, but was excited to get back into the classroom and get my brain working again. Hopefully my confidence and spanish skills will improve so I can start to have basic conversations with locals. This weekend was also the celebration of Dia De Muertes...¨Day of the Dead¨. In latin america they use this day to celebrate the death of their loved ones. They make the person´s favorite dish and take it to the cemetary where they spend the day in celebration. It is a positive day where they remember the good old times with their family. On our bus ride home last night we passed by small towns and could see the fiestas in the cemetaries. Also, today in Baños there were parades and bands playing.....they are always celebrating something here. Latin Ameria is a very tranquil, easy going, fun culture....it is care free and has nice people who truley love each other and love life!!!! Wayyyy different then the US mentality, I think.