Tag Archives: wall art

More from Baños de Agua Santa

Jul 2 – Today we stayed in town and visited the church, Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Agua Santa, a pretty place with a red altar, and a convent that now houses a museum.

The sanctuary is filled with paintings depicting the miracles attributed to the Virgin of the Holy Waters. Each painting has the story inscribed on the bottom with the date and particulars of each miracle.

The museum has a large collection of musty clerical robes, and a room full of taxidermied animals that had seen better days.

Some nice paintings here too, and a mosaic.

Then we walked to the edge of town, where we could see the Agua Santa waterfall.

It looks like the folks here were gearing up for the holy waters to be a major tourist attraction, like Lourdes, with the waters available to the masses. Unfortunately, we were the only folks around, and the Garden of the Virgin was padlocked. We climbed closer to the waterfall.

From the waterfall, we could see the thermal baths next door.

We dipped our fingers in the Agua Santa, and the water was ice cold, so we’re not sure where the thermal bath waters come from. A mystery.

Walking home, we enjoyed more street art and some lovely brugmansia.

Baños – a groovy place!

On to Baños, Ecuador

Jun 30 – Today’s journey was an hour and a half bus ride through the mountains, as we left gray and misty Puyo behind. We rode through a town named Shell – named for the oil company. Now we are in the mountain town of Baños.

Baños means ‘bath’, and refers to the hot springs that have long been popular with tourists here. I think the sign below indicates the hot springs.

The full name of the town is Baños de Agua Santa, or Bath of the Holy Waters, but the signs just say Baños. In Western Hemisphere Spanish, baños also means bathroom, which makes it an odd name for a town, to our ears. (In Spain you ask directions to the toilet or WC or servicios – if you ask for the baños, you just get an odd look and a shrug. Why are you asking for a bathtub?)

Stepping off the bus, it felt like we’d been magically transported to Switzerland – crisp air, blue skies, and mountains all around. Here’s the view from our hotel window.

We even have a snow-topped volcano, Volcan Tungurahua.

We walked into town. Lots of street art here.

The downtown was packed on a Sunday afternoon, with locals and visitors crowding the sidewalks. Lots of backpackers and hostels and tour companies here.

There was a huge fruit and vegetable market.

Some mosaic wall art!

Jul 1 – This morning we took the bus up the mountain to visit Casa del Arbol – the Tree House at the top of the world.

The bus ride, in a very comfortable tourist bus, cost $1. (Note: the tour company in town would be happy to charge you $50. for the same ride.)

Casa del Arbol is on all the lists of things that one must do in Ecuador. The premise is simple – the little tree house is built precariously on the edge of a cliff, with swings attached. Swing out over the abyss for the thrill of your life!

Simple indeed, and unlike Disneyland, the adventure is entirely up to you. Once you’ve paid the $1. entrance fee to the gatekeeper, there is no evidence that anyone works here or watches the tourists in any way. You can do any crazy-ass thing you like on the swings, as many times as you wish.

Note that the single strap that you can attach (or not) across your lap would not do much to keep you from flying down the mountain if you overbalanced. However, we all took several turns, it was great fun, and we all lived to tell the tale. The feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are extended out over nothingness just can’t be beat.

This place also featured a self-service zip line, which was tame by comparison. You zipped down the hill, then walked your harness back for the next person to use.

Once your adrenaline is racing, you might also want to balance on a log and cross a pond. Some folks will do anything.

When we weren’t swinging or zipping, we walked through some beautiful gardens and enjoyed the mountain air.

Most fun we’ve ever had for a dollar!

Tena, Ecuador

Jun 15 – We set the alarm for 5am, but of course we didn’t need it, as we woke up every hour throughout the night to check the time. Are we the only ones who do this? The 15-passenger van arrived at 5:15 to take us to the next chapter of our Ecuadorian adventure – Tena. The van picked up passengers at various spots around the city until all the seats were full.

It was still dark for the first part of our ride, but the popping in our ears let us know we were coming down from Quito’s high elevation. Then we had to remove our jackets as the weather warmed up. We saw some breathtaking views of the Andes covered in morning mist, but the condensation on the windows didn’t allow for any photos. Use your imagination!

By 9:30 we arrived in Tena, and the van stopped right at our hotel. Just like that, we’re back in the jungle!

Tena is a scruffy little town, touted as the cinnamon (canela) and wayusa capital of the world. Wayusa is a leaf that is dried and used as a caffeinated tea, drunk by indigenous people as an aid to having visions. Located on the Pano River, Tena caters to adventure tourists who come here to whitewater raft, kayak and take jungle tours to interact with the indigenous Quechua people and partake in shaman rituals. We are here for just a day, prior to meeting up with Jim’s professor colleague tomorrow.

Tena is also home to Parque Amazonico La Isla del Amor, a nature park right next to our hotel. We dropped off our bags and walked over to check it out.

What’s the first thing we saw? An observation tower! “Up!” said Jim, so up we went.

As we walked along, I was just starting to ask Jim what our chances were of actually seeing any wildlife, when out of the brush strolled a tapir, big as life and unrestrained in any way!

Jim moved in, in pursuit of a Facebook video, causing me to wonder how close was too close to an animal this size, even if they are herbivores. Say cheese!

Five minutes later, we met another one!

This day was already a home run as far as I was concerned. Further down the path, there was a restroom (read tin-roofed outhouse), and I decided to answer a call of nature. As I sat, I heard a loud crash right above my head, and Jim informed me that a monkey had just jumped onto the tin roof! I looked up, and there was a sweet-faced little spider monkey, looking down at me inquisitively through a gap in the tin. I’m sure you’d like to see a picture of this, but I was a little busy at that moment.

I rushed out, got my camera and snapped a few shots of the little guys right above my head. Don’t you just love that sweet little face?

After a while, the wooden boardwalk stopped abruptly and only the cement supports remained. Jim said this was a town once enriched by oil wealth, but when the current administration came into power, this park project was just never finished. The oil wealth is now used to pay back the loans for infrastructure made by China, and there’s no money left over. Jim was happy to walk on the support beam, but my balance isn’t that good, so we turned around.

Here is a ceibo tree, where elves and fairies – the guardians of the forest – were thought to live.

I love seeing what we consider ‘house plants’ growing huge and free in the forest.

In the evening we strolled the town board walk in search of supper. Here’s some wall art:

A good day!

Two Rivers to Manitowoc

6/15 – we didn’t get to spend much time in Two Rivers, but we learned two things about it:  it is the coldest town in Wisconsin, as it juts out into Lake Michigan, and it is the home of the ice cream sundae!image

Today was an easy walk south on the Maritime Trail that runs along the shore of Lake Michigan.  We’re keeping the walk short, only about 7 miles, to the EconoLodge in Manitowoc, where we will rest for a few days to give my blisters a chance to heal.

The Maritime Trail is multi-use, with lots of families out biking or walking on a beautiful (and chilly!) Sunday morning.  We were impressed with the many volunteer gardens planted along the trail for all to enjoy.  image

 

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Now we are hunkered down in Manitowoc for some rest and to watch some World Cup. Here are some murals on the old buildings downtown:

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