My friend Jill Sare lives in Banos, Tungurahua, near Quito. Since she was returning home to Banos, she offered to let me ride along with her for the 5-hour trip. I met up with Jerry Dunn there and will do some sightseeing for the next couple of days before we tour the Amazon.
I booked a waterfalls tour aboard an open-air truck called a chiva. I'd taken the tour once before but it's never the same twice. I met two guys who sat next to me, Gutenberg and Brian, and they were enthused to try the zipline. I was content with riding in a tarabita, a suspended car over the canyon near one of the waterfalls. The trip ends up at Pailon del Diablo, The Devil's Cauldron, where Jerry Dunn met up with the group. He'd run from Banos to the waterfall.
Another day I tried another city-run hot springs, El Salado, with access to Rio Bascun for a really cold plunge between hot pools.
I stayed at La Chimenea in a double room for $24. There's a glass room on the rooftop with a great view of the Agua Santa waterfall. This is also where breakfast is served daily and a kitchen where the backpackers can cook their own meals. The hotel has a pool and individual steam chambers and is just a couple of blocks from the La Virgen hot springs.