Weekend Trip to Banos

Sometimes I wish I had a Spanish keyboard. That word is pronounced BAHN-YOS, but you wouldn't know that from looking at it, because I don't know how to make the ~ appear above the 'n' as it should be. *sigh*

Anyway, on with the post...

A couple weekends ago, our awesome friends and partners in ministry, Dwight and Tandy, offered to keep our kids for the weekend. WHAT?! Who, in their right mind, offers to keep FOUR kids for a whole weekend?! People who don't have 4 kids of their own, that's who! So after much hesitation on my part (mostly because I couldn't imagine what I would do without my kiddos for a whole 48 hours), Hubs and I let them stay and we took a weekend trip to nearby Banos.
Packing for a road trip in Ecuador requires different preparations than in the States, namely packing your own toilet paper.
Banos is about 45 minutes away from Shell. A bit bigger than Shell, it is known for it's waterfalls, hot springs, and the fact that it caters to "gringo" (non-Ecuadorian) tourists.
 Different views of the church (la iglesia) in the middle of town. The steeple could be seen from almost any point in town. That really helped me (directionally challenged) to keep track of where we were.

Lots of dining choices in Banos. Obviously, the first picture is a meat market (carneria). The second is a sign posted outside a restaurant advertising "Orejas de Elefantes". Yes friends, that would be Elephant Ears. But don't worry. We were told it's just the name of a dish, not actual ears from elephants. Photo 3 is the menu for Casa Hood, a hippy-gringo hangout, advertising a Cajun dish! I'm wishing now I would have ordered it. Last but not least, photo 4, is the local delicacy--CUY. In case you don't know, cuy is guinea pig. And no, we didn't try it.
This is a city obsessed with Smurfs. They were everywhere!
Three views of the same waterfall.
Even though we were in the middle of a city, we had an amazing view of the countryside. I am always impressed at how farmers can plant on the sides of mountains like they do here. In photo 1, you see a large white rectangle on the side of the mountain. Photo 2 is a close up of that rectangle--a green house. Photo 3, obviously, is a close up of someone's mountainside garden.
These hot springs are also a huge attraction in Banos. I had thought it might be something fun to do until I saw how crowded it was. Maybe next time...
Downtown Entertainment: Besides people watching, window shopping and sight seeing, the streets offer a variety of entertainment. Photo 1 shows a young guy pulling taffy. This is a common sight in Banos. Photo 2 is a pic of street musicians. Their sound was amazing! My first thought was that someone was playing a CD very loudly, and then I realized it was live music. Now that I think about it, Banos reminds me a bit of New Orleans. That may be why I liked it so much!
Banos at night... beautiful!
And as for the kids, they had a great time with Tandy, Dwight and their little boy, Johnathon.

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