Today was a great day. Several days ago, I booked a trip to Papallacta Thermal Springs. I booked it through South American Explorers, a club I belong to and who has one of their headquarters here in Quito.
I was surprised to see how many ex-pats were on the bus. I was one of only about five tourists. There were about sixteen people on the bus. Well, this was a hey-day for me as I was able to make friends with about four of these ex-pats. And did I pick their brain on the two hour bus ride over the continental divide of the Andes.
I was able to find out lots of local information, and made a few new friends. We've already planned to go to Mantinita, a beach on the south coast. I decline to go to the dairy farm (though I may change my mind; once I thought about it, I thought I might indeed like to see Ecuador's method of dairy production, but that's another story.). I'm kind of fond of these guys, and my buds at Finn McCool's. I guess by virtue of the fact that we're all traipsing around South America, shows there's a strong common denominator.
So, after about a two hour drive slightly west south west out of Quito we arrived at the thermal spas. The road sort of petered out at the end with the last few miles turning from reasonable road to gravel road to dirt road, all the while galloping across this in a bus the size of a greyhound bus.
The spas were carved into the ground and tiled in blue mosaic tiles, admission was seven dollars for the day. There were approximately fifteen different pools with varying degrees of water temperature. The water, for the most part, flowed into the pools from man made boulder spigots, sometimes from waterfalls, sometimes from underneath the pool, a variety of imaginative and ecologically congruent methods. Even the showers were made from hollowed out wooden poles stuck into the ground and carrying endless supplies of perfectly hot water out a trough mounted on top the pole to the person standing below.
I attempted part of a hike that leads up to twin waterfalls behind the Spa (said to take about two hours), but I was finished after about thirty minutes. I suppose the water relaxed me a little too much. That's when I headed to the restaurant for a couple glasses of wine.
I didn't take many pictures on the way up, or down, because while on the bus, I spent most of my time talking to my newfound friends, spongeing from them all I could while I had a captive audience. So without pictures, you'll have to take my word for what follows.
The visuals of the trip while traversing the Andes was awe inspiring. Though often cloaked in clouds, the net height you could see was awesome. When the clouds would relent and reveal the range entirely, it was in unbelievable! These mountains are f***in huge! We would be driving at the 10,000ft level and the mountains STILL rose an additional height of almost that of the Rockie Mountains to above 14,200ft. Truly a sight to see.
The mountains were covered in green up to the snow level because of our proximity to the equator.
All in all it was a great trip, cheaply priced, a lot of fun, and even educational via my friends kindly imparting their wisdom into me.
The only thing now is, I'M ABSOLUTELY BUSHED again. I'm beginning to think I might me approaching all this with perhaps a little too much vigor. I'm thinking that I might need to tend to a little genuine rest of both body and mind.
Dinner is about to be served so I'm gonna cut this short. Miss you all, truly wish you were here (applies especially to you Jim). I think it's time to chow down...