Monday, May 17, 2010


Everywhere we are, in every town we visit, Pete and I are in a constant state of evaluation. What is there to do around here? How expensive is it? What is the weather like year round? Could we live here?

We came into this journey with some expectations, or at least some assumptions as to what would have the most appeal to us. Growing up in the frigid, landlocked north of Alberta, we expected that there would be nothing that could compare to the draw of the warm ocean. We envisioned evenings on a beach, watching the sunset with a glass of wine. Sweating from the hot of the equatorial sun instead of from the workout of shoveling snow.

And while that vision still carries a lot of appeal, there is also a new contender in town. And it can be summed up with one adjective: GREEN!

All around us in Banos, there is green. The mountains are covered in lush foliage all year round. And when not set against a brilliantly contrasting blue sky, they are draped in layers of mystical clouds, seemingly close enough to touch. They are alive with the many waterfalls and crystal clear rivers. They are majestic, enchanting and inspiring. I could just stare out our windows all day long and never tire of the view.

Saturday morning we decided to take to the green, and embarked on a hike along the mountainside north of Baños, east and across a large canyon from the one main highway. It was led by Karl, one of our fearless leaders at La BIB, and he took us along an old smuggling route used back in the days of prohibition (yes, it was hard for us to believe that prohibition existed here too!) Karl said he has done this hike several times before, but part way through, we were questioning whether or not ANYONE had ever come this way before.

We walked through some serious, Indiana Jones shit! A machete, whip, or any number of tools would have been helpful through parts of the wildly overgrown paths. We got our fill of "green" - as it smacked us in the face, scratched our arms, and deceitfully covered holes that we then stepped into.

It was a amazingly beautiful setting, when we actually stopped ourselves to enjoy it. It was not the sort of hike that allowed for a casual stroll while gazing at the vista all around us. If it wasn't overgrown with plants, then it was a pit of mud, and we slipped and slid our way up and down the mountainside.

We are tiny little specks against the green mountainside

Check out my mud-encased pants and shoes

After almost four hours of hiking, we stopped for lunch and then continued a little further to one of the regions many tarabita's - a very basic basket style cable car to take us back across the canyon at quite a rapid speed. There are five of them along the canyon around Baños, I would love to just ride back and forth in them all day, taking in the beauty!

Tarabita across the canyon
Our chariot!

Safely on the other side of the canyon and at the highway, we hopped on a bus to our next stop of Rio Verde - home of Pailón del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron) - a waterfall recognized by the National Geographic as one of the ten most beautiful in the world! The area surrounding the top of the waterfall is actually owned by a Canadian, who Karl aptly described as quite...interesting.

That he is! Antonio warmly welcomed us and gave us the briefest introduction of how to enjoy his land: "Just remember the Beatles song - All you need is love! That's all that needs to be said."

And this is what he meant:

After hiking around his property, we returned to the town of Rio Verde and escaped the hot sun for a much needed cold beverage. Enjoying the rest and the shade more then the prospective of any more exercise, we forewent the last portion of the prescribed hike, deciding to save the views from the bottom of the waterfall (in the midst of all the green!) for another day.

For more GREEN (and other pictures) here.

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