This morning we had to say our goodbyes to Sergio, Matildo and the rest of the staff after an early balanced breakfast of french fries and fruit. Given our Gringo luck, we were bombarded by a massive rain storm during our departure. We had about 1/4 of a mile walk to the nearest bus station with backpacks on and muscles flexed holding our luggage above ground to avoid contact with the muddy trail. I´m definitely building some guns here *flexes* We arrived at the invisible station drenched, sweaty and tired ... only to wait for another 20 minutes until there was a bus in sight to flag down.
The 2 1/2 hour drive to Banos was rather uncomfortable in soaking wet clothes. We steamed up the entire bus. I did manage to get a bit of shut eye until the bus started scraping against the side of the mountain. I then realized we were driving down a narrow jagged one way road carved out of the mountain cliffs with no shoulder room to maneuver in. My window seat was not a luxury at this point and the rain didn´t ease my worries either. Luckily, we didn´t topple down the cliffs and made it into Banos. Banos got its name from the hot spring bath houses scattered around town.
We checked into Posada del Arte which is my favorite hotel so far. It´s filled with colorful paintings by local artists and our roomk is equipt with a fireplace, porch and a badass view of a wicked waterfall.
Oh... I forgot to mention that when I woke up this morning, I decided to try my luck and turn on my camera. It turned on but it´s become a complete vegetable ... black screen of death (probably a rusted shutter).Our first order of business in Banos is to search for a camera mechanic to help revive my camera and see if Georgia´s camera even has a chance at a heart beat. No Luck. Plan B - get a police report to provide our travel insurance. Easier said than done. The first police station said they couldn´t file a report because the cameras weren´t lost or stolen. They pointed us to another station and encouraged us to "change our story" regarding our camera pòssession. Let me just say ... it´s pretty sad when you´re forced to lie because the truth failed. FML. Fabio translated our "updated" version of the story and an hour later we left with a police report in hand.
Ecuador´s currency is now in USD since their economy tanked and rendered their local currency useless. But ... small bills and change are hard to come by and nobody is willing to breaks anything larger than a twenty. This brings us to mission numero tres - breaking the Benjis. I needed to break a Benjamin and was rejected by 3 banks in a row. What makes this task extremely shady is that the last bank referred me to a dodgy hardware shop across the street where they do black market bill exchanges. I ended up going with Fabio (my protector & translator) and we managed to finally break my bill ....at the cost of a dollar for the "hard work" involved. Oh ... third world countries ... how you amuse me.
In the evening, Georgia, Fabio and I went bar hopping. It felt good to exert some of my pent-up-camera-mourning-energy on the dance floor.