If you read our blog entitled “Lessons and Rewards” you would know that Elena and I have been hoping for a break, and that our visa will be running out in April, so we will be heading back to the states. We have enjoyed our time here, and know that when we return to the US we will be looking for the next opportunity to expand our service, but we are not really sure what that will entail. With that in mind, we decided to take a little time, and explore this great country we live in, as we are not sure if, or when we will return to Ecuador.
Our first stop was the city on Ambato. We know a couple of pioneer sisters that live there, the had moved out of our congregation here in Loja right after we moved in. They had asked us to come visit several times, so we decided to take them up on it. After our meeting Friday night, we took the overnight bus to Ambato. Saturday morning we enjoyed service with the sign congregation there, and explored the city a bit. Our friend Andrea took us to a nice garden that overlooked downtown, and the neighbouring mountains.
The next day we enjoyed the meeting with the local congregation. Like most of the friends here, the congregation was extremely warm, and welcoming. That evening Andrea, and Karen had planned a congregation get-together at their house. This party was a lot of fun with many planned skits and games, and plenty of dancing!
The real fun began Monday morning. We made the girls an American breakfast of “French toast”. It was a big hit to say the least! After that we got on a bus and headed to Baños. Baños is a small touristy town that sits at the foot of an active volcano, on a river that runs toward the amazon. There is all sorts of things to do there, from rafting to hiking the many waterfalls, from starting a journey into the amazon, to enjoying the thermal baths, and many even choose to climb the afore-mentioned
volcano, Tungurahua, arguably Ecuador’s most active volcano. We actually were afraid we might not be able to go to Baños because about two weeks before our visit the volcano had a small eruption. Mostly smoke and ash, but a small amount of lava came out, and they closed down the road to the town.
But thankfully when we arrived in town a few weeks later, the volcano had been quite, so we were able to head into town. When we noticed the dried lava flow on the side of the mountain, we knew we had arrived!
After walking through town we grabbed a bus to a waterfall the girls knew about. It took another half hour or so, and we passed some waterfalls we could see from the road, and I wondered why we didn’t stop. We finally got off the bus, and headed on a path into the jungle. A half hour later we came upon one of the most amazing waterfalls we had ever seen.
After enjoying the waterfall we went back to town for a late lunch, then decided to head over to the thermal baths. We weren’t able to get in till near sundown, then we tried the baths on the lower level. The water was near a burning temperature! We tried several times to get in, but it was just too hot! One of the beat faced regulars told us that the water was 113 degrees. We left for the bath upstairs, far more crowded, but far more tolerable.
Sharing a bath with 30 strangers is a unique experience, not to mention the waterfall behind us, the beautiful mountains, the small town below, and the sunset. But soon we remembered just how dangerous this tranquil place could be. Although we couldn’t see Tungurahua (a smaller peak blocked our view from that perspective) we were soon reminded that she was there, as she let out a poof of smoke!