Day 17 - Adventures in Banos!
Yesterday was a long and very eventful day. It started by waking up with the boys, Martin and Gilmar and taking them back to Casa de Fe. We stopped by a bakery on the way and I got them a pastry. After we dropped them off, it was a quick breakfast and then myself, Melissa, Kelsey, Powell, and Abby all hopped on the bus for a one hour ride to Banos which is the third most visited city in all of Ecuador. When we got there, the first thing we did was run to the bathroom where it cost 10 cents to go number one and we saw people swing jumping off a bridge. I immediately wanted to join but was talked down by some others there. I have always wanted to go bungee jumping but this apparently was not that. This was more like jumping off a bridge with a rope tied too you that didn't bounce hence the name swing jumping. It sounded very painful and not as fun so I declined and will wait until another time.
We started out the day by walking through the market which was a bunch of cool overpriced touristy stuff. It was fun walking through but I didn't get anything this time around. For lunch, we stopped in the most random restaurant ever as far as menus go. They had everything from mexican food to pizza to pasta to seafood to sandwiches to french fries to soups. I got fajitas that were super good. We then went to rent some go carts which was awesome. We got two go carts and one four wheeler for two hours and headed off through town and out up this big mountain. We were trying to go to a water fall that was up the mountain but the go carts couldn't make it up the hill. That was an adventure in and of itself. I had to get out and push while Melissa drove, haha. And then, the other go cart with Kelsey and Abby in it shut off and wouldn't restart. Melissa and I drove all the way back into town to tell the guys. I was really frustrated but couldn't speak Spanish so that was useless. Melissa told them what was up and then we traded for a four wheeler (because they were faster) and took an employee out to the place where the other cart was stalled. He finally got it to work, scolded us for going up to steep of a hill (which they didn't tell us not to) and then he left. Powell and I were super annoyed that we couldn't argue with the guy, get money back and stuff but that's what happens when you aren't bilingual.
It all worked out fine in the end. We didn't get an extension on our time but we did trade the employee for his four wheeler so now we had 3 four wheelers that could all easily make it up the hill. We blasted up the hill to this gorgeous huge water fall. It was so beautiful and amazing. I quickly hopped out, rolled up my jeans and started climbing. I felt like I was in my element climbing. It was so much fun except for the one time I fell pretty hard. There was a huge steep rock that I saw was wet and I was bare foot so I just though it would be a little slick. Wrong! It was a lot slick. I leaped from my place to the rock with all my weight going forward and down and right when my feet hit the rock, they slid right off. I banged my leg, and arm really good, got several cuts all over the backside of my arm and then got up and kept climbing.
Once I got to the top, I could see all the surrounding land. I was surrounded on all sides by green forest on mountains and I could say way down into the valley where the city was. It was so high and beautiful. I couldn't help but just stand and look as I said a little prayer thanking God for how magnificent he is for making such a beautiful creation. All I could think about was how amazing it was and how much I wanted my friends and family from back home to see it too. There is something about being bare foot in nature, climbing up a waterfall and then basking in God's beautiful creation. There are not many better moments in life than those. The only thing that would make them better is being able to do them with the people you love and miss.
There are pictures but I don't have them. Kelsey took them all on her camera so the will probably show up on facebook later.
After a while just standing in the puddle of water at the top of the water fall, I slid back down all the way to the ground and mounted the four wheelers to head back into town. We got back just fine, returned the four wheelers then went to this beautiful old Catholic Church. It was huge and just filled with another kind of beauty. It was still God's creation, just a different kind this time. It was the creation of God's creation, man and it was also stunning. We walked around for a while and then needed a snack so we at a guinea pig. Yep, you read it right. In Banos, they roasted full guinea pig, face, teeth and all. They take the hair off and everything then stick a metal rod through their rear and roast it over an open flame. They are expensive too, like 18 dollars for a whole one. We just bought a piece to try some and all shared. It was actually really good. Tasted a little tougher than chicken with tougher skin and a slightly different after taste. It was all in all a good experience.
Following the guinea pig appetizer, we headed to a local ice cream store where I got some fruit topped ice cream. It was also really good. I got some flavor called guanabana which I still don't know what that is except that it is some kind of fruit. After ice cream, some sight seeing and more walking around, we finally got a cab around 6 and headed up the mountain to this beautiful restaurant overlooking the whole city. It was a hotel and restaurant and the view was breathtaking. Luckily, we got there in daylight so we got to see the whole city in day and then by the end of dinner it was pitch black dark so we got to see the whole city light up which was also really cool. I got a smoothie, a salad, and steak filled crapes. Yummy.
After dinner, and a long cab ride back to the city, it was about 8 o'clock. Powell was catching a bus to Quito airport at midnight so we had 4 hours to kill in Banos night life which is very big here. We went to a restaurant that the girls new of that had karaoke. Of course, all the songs were in Spanish so that was no good but as luck would have it, they had a couple english songs. Guess which ones the girls picked for us to sing. . . Yep, you guessed it. Hit me baby one more time by Brittney Spears. I fought so hard for them not to do it but they did anyways and then shoved the microphone in my face. I couldn't back down and by that time, it was well past my normal bedtime here so I was a little adrenaline happy so I accepted. Yes, on Friday night, I was in an Ecuadorian bar singing Brittany Spears karaoke to a bunch of non English speaking people. It was a really good time and I have no regrets . . . except that I think Kelsey filmed it. Not ok, I really hope that doesn't show up somewhere because it is probably really embarrassing. Haha.
After that, we headed to this really big restaurant/club place that had a really big fire pit in the back with a ton of seats. We rounded out the night there just sitting and talking and meeting people. We met two Ecuadorian girls that allowed us to sit at their table, a French guy who is traveling all across South America for 7 months and a girl from Finland or something like that. It was super fun just hanging out and hearing their stories. We got to share Christ with them too. We didn't convert or baptize any of them but we did get to be good examples and let them know about our relationships with Christ which was really cool. They were all really receptive and it wasn't awkward at all because we were all just getting to know each other and let Christ come out of our stories and lives.
It was a fun night and around midnight, we headed to a street where we knew the bus would pass and waited for about 30 minutes. While we waited, Melissa bought some pure sugar cane. I had never had it before but it was really good. It is bamboo looking plant that you cut in pieces and suck the juice out of by chewing it. Once Powell's bus finally came, we helped him on, loaded his bags, and sent him home to Alaska. It was great meeting and getting to know him but crazy that he had been here for two weeks. Time is flying by. After his bus took off, we then waited about an hour for our bus back to Shell. We tried to hitch hike and flagged down several taxis trying to get a ride for under 15 dollars but it wasn't happening. When the bus did arrive, we loaded, paid our 2.50 and fell asleep. One hour later and around 2 o'clock at night, our day was finished and we were home.
I walked home, and thought about all the cool stuff I had done that day. One quick negative note, somewhere along the way, my phone stopped working. It isn't dead, it just goes white when I click anything. I can tell it is responsive but it doesn't show anything on the screen, just a slight light that comes on. That is a bit discouraging but other than that, the day was great! All in all, I had a ton of fun but the one thing I wish is that my family and friends could be here with me. It is so beautiful down here and so much fun but it only makes me think of how much more fun it would have been if Hannah was here. (My family too) Okay, sappy moment over.
A wise guy down here told me that when you are here, you will always miss home but when you return home, you will always miss here. I agreed with what he said and really want to try to grasp that while I am here. As I noted, time is flying and I do miss home but I need to thank God for the time I have here and live in the moment. It is such a blessing to be here and I don't need to forget it because soon it will be no more.
What a blessing it is for a three day weekend and a Friday of no work and all play. It was a great day and I am sure there is more to come tomorrow! Praise God!