Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pyroclastic Flows? We Don´t Care About No Stinkin Pyroclastic Flows

Whenever I withdraw money from a Third World ATM, I turn around, ostentatiously flash the wad, and say in a loud and commanding voice: Okay, which one of you malnourished losers thinks he can take me?

But I didn´t find an ATM in Tena. Instead we got on the bus, drove through the jungle on crappy roads to Puyo, then turned right on a paved one and went halfway up the Andes to the Ecuadorian resort town of Banos.

Which we immediately liked. After all, how can you not like a place with verdant green mountain walls and waterfalls erupting forth all over? Especially since, once we got to the artsy B&B there, and met the couple our age from Chicago, complete with bicycles and guitars, who had just bought the place a couple of years ago, and we got the room with the view and the fireplace...

Anyway, Maureen started feeling better. And once we walked around the town and saw all the non-Ecuadorian-hole-in-the-wall food options, and also saw that it was neither a total local resort nor a total backpacker dive...

Well, we got rid of the excess elipses, and had a good night´s sleep. And the next morning... they were back. Along with cold, drizzly rain. I guess that´s the price you pay for all that greenery. Still, there wasn´t much to do until the afternoon, when it started to clear, and I started to head up some steep steps to a lookout point.

From where I could see the nearby volcano, Tunguruhua, which has also been erupting. Big time. In ´99 they evacuated the town. Then it died down. Then in August last year it started to explode again. Although now, as the clouds cleared a bit at its summit, it was just streaming out brown smoke.

All of which makes for the kind of tourism I like. Although our new friends from Chicago are just a tad concerned about their uninsured B&B investment.

Still, exploding volcanoes make for low, low real estate prices. And the area is stunningly beautful. So, if a volcano hasn´t had a catastrophic eruption in, say, 10,000 years, what are the odds that it´s going to do so in the measly 20 or so years that you have left?

We hope to go back before we leave Ecuador to check a few places out.

In the meantime, on Tuesday, although I have yet to see a totally blue sky in the country, it was more sunny than not. And the project of Mo and me was to bicycle downhill about 12 miles to a famous waterfall.

Now neither of us basically have been bicycling since around 1989, and Maureen doesn´t take too readily to anything that might go wrong, but if you´re going downhill all the way, what can go wrong?

Okay, it was on the main road, with the trucks and the buses and all, and she didn´t particularly like that. Then it turned out that there were indeed uphill portions (13 in all), and her legs weren´t up for that. Then there was the 400 meter long dark tunnel with the dripping water. But after a short bit of yelling and screaming at me, she made a valiant attempt to get into the good sport mode.

She even went with me on the tiny open gondola bucket that goes 500 meters over a chasm with a raging river below.

But when we got to the end of the line and the walk to the waterfall, she looked at how down, down, down the trail went, computed that that meant an up, up, up at some point, and left me on my own.

Me, I´m an idiot. Because even though after the first few hundred meters I had realized that it probably was going to be no different from all the other waterfalls that you can see with no effort, I still had to go all the way there to prove to myself that, yes, it was no different from all the other...

Once I labored back uphill we rode the bikes over to the main highway again where we, uh, stopped a bus going back up to Banos and put the bikes underneath.

Nothing to do once we got back except to eat more food and sit around our lovely room. Then Wednesday around noon we left town.


At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys have been quiet for awhile and are starting to worry me. Blog something, even if it's in Khipu.


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