The last couple of days have been spent relaxing, reading and walking. The weather has been variable, to say the least, so the latter has often been a bit wet.
On Tuesday, Jemima walked with me up and down a track on the opposite side of the river, past farmland with views of the town. She very kindly adjusted her pace to my very unfit one and we chatted about all sorts of things along the way. She has studied theatre, contemporary dance and art therapy and was brought up in the middle of nowhere in North Wales, so has quite a story to tell. She and Qui Quo (that spelling looks very strange!) are looking after Casa Verde for about 6 months, after which time, they hope to find a country where they are both able to live and work, which is currently proving to be a little challenging.
After the walk, she returned to the house, whilst I had lunch and a wander around Banos, looking for a hairdresser and collecting my laundry. In doing so, I chanced upon a travel agency offering tours to the Galapagos so I asked for information and then booked for the week after next. Having dithered for so long about whether to go or not, because of the extortionate expense, I decided that I would only have regrets if I didn’t. Unfortunately, in Ecuador, if you pay by anything other than cash, it incurs a 6% or 8% surcharge, so there were a lot of visits to the cash machine over the next few days. The ATMs here only allow you to withdraw $300 at a time, which is quite irritating as that, in itself, incurs extra bank charges. The banks always win!
I awoke on Wednesday to torrential rain and when Qui Quo told me that they had juggled the rooms so that I could have one upstairs (as opposed to next to the kitchen with a view of the washing line), I decided it was the perfect opportunity to read until the room was ready and the rain stopped. This happened about lunchtime when I walked the 25 minutes into town, where I found a hairdresser to rectify the last disaster, and then had lunch at the market. Haircuts are always a little hit and miss when travelling and this one, whilst a little short, appears to be one of the more successful ones.
For lunch, I sat at a small plastic table with some Ecuadoreans and had the menu of the day, which was chicken soup and chicken or fish for ‘seconds’. As soon as I ordered fish, I realised it was a mistake as it would be the dreaded tilapia, all bones and no flesh and often tasting of mud. And it was. The soup was excellent, although I was a little bemused to be offered a banana with it. However, when in Rome……. It went surprisingly well.
Afterwards, my walk of the day was up to the statue of the Virgin on top of one of the many hills overlooking the town. There are no flat walks here. All of them are vertically up and vertically down. This one was no different except that there were steps and they did not fit my natural stride. Also, on the way down, they appeared to slope downhill, which, in the wet (for it was now raining again) I felt was a little precarious. I proceeded very carefully.
Safely at the bottom, once again, I visited the very white cemetery and then returned to the Casa for my massage appointment, which is one of the excellent services offered at the guest house. However, this was not one of those relaxing hours as the massage was very firm and sometimes quite painful. ‘No pain, no gain’, so I am sure it was very beneficial!
The rest of the evening was spent on my bed, planning and booking the next couple of weeks – Alausi for the Devil’s Nose Railway, Guayaquil, Ballenita (randomly picked small beach town near Guayaquil) and the Galapagos. It’s so nice not to have to think for a while now!