As the name would suggest Baños is known for its baths... hot volcanic ones. Aaah bliss! Baños is a city perched on the side of a mountain surrounded by other mountains and one rather active volcano which can been seen bubbling and smoking behind the city. It´s a very touristy place with endless agencies trying to flog you tours, bike and motor quad rental, treks and horse rides... despite this and the countless gringos it retains a tranquil atmosphere and we spent a few days nursing our slightly jippy tummies and soaking up the surroundings. We did hire bikes and spend a day cycling the road to Puno, a jungle town 60ish Km away. The route is popular due to the dramatic scenery and waterfalls along the way. It certainly didn´t disappoint. The scenery was amazing and we stopped along the way to take a ride in a rickety looking cable car cage like thing across the gorge. I´ve developed vertigo with years and the idea of it terrified me... but I also like a good fright so paid my $2 and whizzed along high up above the river and actually really enjoyed it. Back safely on land we carried on cycling down, down, down the road towards Puno. We didn´t go all the way to Puno, but stopped along the way for a walk down to one of the giant waterfalls. We skipped past the most popular falls where all the tour groups go and carried on a few metres down the road to the next one where we found an incredibly warm and welcoming Ecuadorian lady who had inherited the most incredible patch of land from her mother which included the stunning waterfall that we visited. After enjoying a tasty picnic at the foot of the waterfall and being the main course of a tasty picnic for some hungry itchy bugs we climbed back up, drank tea and scratched ourselves with the lovely lady in her restaurant/house. She spoke beautiful clear spanish which I understood every word of and I was feeling confident about how far my spanish has come... that is until we were joined by a group of Ecuadorian tourists from Guayaquil, half of which had been living the past couple of decades in New York. Well neither Antoine or I could understand a word they said in English or Spanish!! I realised that the day I can understand mumbling spanish spoken by americanised Guayaquilians will be the day that my Spanish is truly fluent!
So our final night in Baños we hopped back and forth from freezing cold to boiling hot baths at the late night springs in the city until I started to feel quite strange and had to get out! Then, revived and buzzing, we just caught the last night bus to Cuenca by the skin of our teeth...