We parted from Martin and Julie, the french couple, at Lago Agrio station. From there, we took the bus at 14h30 for Baños and arrived at midnight. As we got down from the bus, we were greeted by a crowd of hostel agents. It was overwhelming especially after spending 10 hours in the bus. Taking a taxi from the station we headed to La Princesa Maria hostel, this one was recommended by Florencia. An Argentinian, backpacking in South America and is currently working in Acuarela in Panama. We did not have any reservation and fortunately we were able to get a room.
La Princesa Maria hostel is just a few minutes walk from the center, there’s a kitchen where we prepared our breakfast and another meal of the day. The owner, Señor Victor, is kind and a soft spoken fellow. Laundry service is available and this made me really grateful after accumulating a 4 day laundry of 4 people.
During our stay in Baños, we did a 2-hour horse ride for $60. A very first for me and the girls. We passed by the street. Buses and passersby completed the scenario. The horses took us up to a calmer and a more scenic surrounding leading to the foot of the mountain Tungurahua. It was unfortunate that clouds covered the view and we were not able to see the mountain. Erin’s horse, Manchas stayed behind Rambo which was leading the way. She wanted Manchas to galloped but I told her not to and just stay behind her Papa. Karen handled Pecoso gently, which love to stop once in a while to eat grass. I felt that at the beginning she was not at ease with the idea of horse ride but eventually relaxed with it as we moved along.
The descent with the horses were better, though nearing the end of our tour, Carlo’s horse, Rambo sped along. My horse, Leader, maybe feeling so bored the way it was handled, suddenly galloped and showed the true meaning of its name. I was not ready for that yet awkwardly managed to held the rein with a great effort of a newbie rider.
We also walked around town and took a bus at 16h to La Casa del Arbor where the famous swing under a tree is located. The sun was not in the agenda on that day though the girls enjoyed the less busy swing. The same bus took us down at 18h.
On the last day,we went to Termas del Virgen. Outside, booths for sugar cane juice, sweets and other shops lined the street. The new thermal, the big one with slides, etc. was closed from Sun-Wed.
In the thermal bath next to the waterfall, there are 3 pools and my husband and I took turns in dipping into the hot bath where minors are not allowed. One of us stayed with the girls in the middle pool. The third one is with icy cold water. There are plastic boxes, stocked on a pile in front of the changing area to put personal belongings and can be deposited free of charge. A number for the box, attached to an elastic was given to us. We did not stay long, nevertheless, the thermal bath was what everybody needed for the long bus ride ahead of us.
With salsa music in the background, rain drizzling and the cascading waterfall, it was the best way to spend our last afternoon in town.
We were allowed to stay after the check out, which gave us more time to prepare after our thermal trip. From the Inn,we walked to the bus terminal. As usual, adults with their respective bags and the girls alternating with the small valise. There was bickering and on whose turn to pull it, that her feet was aching, etc. etc. Sometimes, I could ignore. Sometimes!!
Are we there yet?
We then took the Ambato bound one around 16h and arrived there after an hour. The bus for Manta was at 19h. Tickets were $11 for an adult and half fare for a child. We bought chifles and water for the trip.
Yes, we fell in love with this snack à la Ecuadorian and Peruvian. In Quito, we discovered this piquante variety but could not find elsewhere.
We arrived in Manta at 5h30, then took the bus for Puerto Lopez and arrived early morning. Waited until almost 8h before taking our chance to be allowed in the hostel.
Puerto Lopez & Guayaquil
In Puerto Lopez, the owner of the hostel, Julio was kind enough to let us in early. We reserved our room for two nights.
There are surprises every time we arrived in our accommodation. Yet we do not always complain and try to focus on the bright side, like hot water or good wifi connection or jumper hanger :). Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately this one kept us outside most of the time.
We walked along the beach, watching the boats and fishermen unload their catch of the day as birds hover around. Waiting for their meal.
Isla de la Plata tour
We arranged for an Isla de la Plata tour which included whale watching, a hike and snorkeling. We were not disappointed. My youngest daughter, Erin, who opted for plastic bags instead of medication, was sick during the boat ride.
Leaving our accommodation in Puerto Lopez in the morning, we took the Guayaquil bound bus at 9h and arrived at Guayaquil after 4 hours- stayed one night in Murali hostel. The following day we took the 14h bus to Mancora, Peru.