|Got at least 4 different stories from locals re: buses to Sigchos. We finally decided best bet would be to hit the road at 6:30am to catch a bus which supposedly would come by at 7! Finally, at 7:45 bus came into village and off we went. Beautiful countryside once again, market day in Sigchos - all but us tourists got off at market place, but then w/in a block of station bus broke down. Great timing for us. Bus lvg to Latacunga at 10:30 so we wait 1 1/2 hrs, nice sunny day driving thru mtn towns. Arr in Latacunga in time to catch another bus to Amato (45 min) where we catch another to Banos. Only the road to Sigchos was unpaved, out of Sigchos still great scenery but paved...being a Sunday lots of locals going to/from markets.
Land in these parts costs $2,000 US/quarter or hectare=2.2 acres. This amt is supposed to be enuf to support a family of ??? This is why we see all the lineal plots up and down mtnsides. Also, why deforestation is almost complete. We passed one large 'hacienda' owned by a fellow in Latacunga (according to our driver) who had planted most of his land in pine trees.
We also discovered from Paul (son of 2 Ecuadorians born in US now w/ dual citizenship and a tour business in Quito) that tourism seems to be surviving on reduced budget traveling - opposite of what I thought. He also said the past rainy season - usually 6 mos long - was only 2 mos long, the last 2. The dry season lasted over 9 mos and is a big reason why the 3 mountains in Ecuador w/ snow (one w/ glaciers) have very little snow and glaciers have receeded drastically in the past 5 years.
After 4 different buses beginning at 7:45am, we arrive in Banos at 3pm and Martin & Monica (2 Swiss w/ us) decide since it is a holiday and lots of people looking for accom it would be best to take a taxi to Hostel Plantas y Blanco even tho just a short distance. This paid off, we got 2 rooms w/ bath for $9.50 pp. More money but no hassles and nice folks/central to everything.
Banos is a busy tourist town on normal days but this being a holiday weekend there are tons of foreign and Ecuadorian tourists. Most are here for 'extreme' adventure stuff - biking, ziplines, climbing, rafting, hiking to the active volcano nearby...last eruption 2006.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ba%C3%B1os_de_Agua_Santa" target="_blank">Wiki Info on Banos
A catchup day...wash clothes, internet, read, talk w/ folks. This hostel is an easy place to stay...i.e. the rooftop terrace is nice place to sit, drink (free tea & coffee), chat & has WiFi (Tim's addiction). Being in a close valley, if there are any clouds at all, they seem to settle here, so it never is too cool or hot, tho I expect more rain...none yet for us.
Slow getting started again, no need to get going until later since next stop is Riobamba and 'train' tomor. Bon is ckg on airline tickets - Sangay Travel was supposed to email us electronic ones but still nothing, not surprising since holiday weekend.
We head down to desk ready to go but the gal there said she would call ahead to ask about train...no tickets avail...lucky she checked, we will stay another nite here.
Afternoon we hike up and over and around Banos hills...great veiws, altho we lost the 'trail' a couple times. See pics.