Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A visit to Bathroom (Grandma part 2)

Get your picture with a gringo -- one dollar
Some people may think twice about visiting a place named after a bathroom, but this was actually our second time to Baños de Ambato (or officially, Baños de Agua Santa, which I think is much prettier, and more appealing to think you're flushing with holy water).

(Go here for more general first-time impressions of Baños, but read on for more of Teddy and Nana Bear's adventures this time around.)

Of course the word baño just means bath, not bathroom, so it's not as odd as Mom's expression makes it seem when we tell her we're visiting a town called Bathroom. An Australian guy there did tell us, though, that they don't treat sewage, in favor of sending it straight into the river and downstream. I don't really believe that, but it was bottled water for all of us, just in case.

Anyway, onto our adventures in Baños.

There are profound moments in a child's life when they realize the world is not static, predictable, and safe: when they get too big to bounce on Daddy's knee; when they first lick a scoop of ice cream right onto the pavement; when a shout to Mom of "come here and check out this view!" is met only with an icy stare saying "or why don't you come here and check out this big stick I've got, punk."

Mom had hip surgery a few years back and she hasn't hiked since. She used to take us on camping trips into the high Rockies, next to cold, isolated lakes while eating trail snacks of dried fruit and carob (which is "chocolate" made from Chapstick and pencil lead shavings). Now she is a Nana Bear with a stick and a vengeance. I guess what's weird is the cuddly part. She's a mother, so she's always had (in my lifetime) the ability to swat your butt with a glance. But it's weird to see it on her new persona of sweet, coot, wuvable NanaBear.

This was all precipitated by the innocent little suggestion that we hike up to the cross on the hill. I mean, it's right there; you can see it from town. Someone among us, were that someone a surveyor or otherwise skilled at the physical maths, might have been able to deduce without sticks and mirrors and slide rulers that the angle of the arm pointing up to the cross, the apparent distance to the cross, and the makeup of the group (three generations) that this was an aggressive pitch to tackle. That someone was either not with us or was keeping quiet about it.

But only at halfway through a trek like this do you realize that it might continue to be a tough slog, at which point only a senior citizen would give up. I think there was one point when Mom really was considering turning back, but that's about when we encountered a whole family (ranging from the little kids you see here to an old, toothless couple, older, it seemed, than most of the trees around us) with a wheelbarrow collecting mandarines for sale as if this were a stroll through an orchard. Watching Mom's expression was like seeing a Bette Davis audition, turning a look of incredulity to shame and then determination in less than ten seconds. And from there wild cows (also seen on the side of the trail) couldn't have stopped her summit shot.

Fortunately for all of us, every summit in Ecuador has a tienda that sells ice cream and beer (in wine glasses!).

Look reaaaally close between the tops of the two waterfalls

Teddy, on the other hand, is 22 and so found this nature hike not quite as good as money can buy. Baños is a resort town, so there are countless ways to divorce yourself from your money, but most still cheap by American standards. This ride in a bucket across this great chasm is just $2. But there's still something so pansy about having something between your feet and a smashing death over jagged rocks in the river below.

little help?
So Teddy finally realized that fantasy he's always had of being strapped up, hung in a defenseless position...and flying like a birdie across a gorge. I particularly like the helmet, presumably used to identify the body by hair samples should someone forget to lock down a clip.

And after that it's just all anticlimactic, so we just settled into a nice, steaming plate of hot bats.

And here are some other random shots from Baños before we chucked mom on another most-of-a-day bus ride to Otovalo. Stay tuned.

Team storytelling - "and then I pushed him off the cliff with my stick"

Mmmmmm -- giant bag of fried pig skin

Just can't get enough of terror on a stick

1 comment:

  1. Oh those were wonderful shots, and you write so well, I was right there panting with your mother. Have fun in Otovalo!