Let me clear some things up. I am currently in Banos, as in, the town in central Ecuador, not as in banos, the bathroom.
Banos and I immediately clicked. While, after arriving weary and grimy from a marathon +20h bus ride I basically collapsed straight into bed after finally putting something other than cookies or chips in my stomach.
The next day dawned new and much more pleasant than the previous one. Twelve hours of sleep has that affect on one. With no real plans for Banos, other than to arrange an Amazon tour, the town lay like a labyrinth waiting to unfold its charms and quirks. Luckily, my first day of wandering was a Sunday. Everyone was out, freshly confessed from church, and ready to enjoy a day off.
My goal when I left the hostal was simple: follow the locals. Where ever a group of them were I meandered over to check out the happenings.p
First, I started with the main church square. Everyone was hanging out, eating this bean/corn/onion concoction, which naturally I had to try as well. It was good, but definitely not my favorite snack-find. I happily sat in the square, observing everything from carnival games to people playing guitars, to women selling candles and charms to leave at Mary's feet in the church. It was a buzzing site for the senses.
Next, I wandered down several streets, watching people shop and children run around. Banos is known for its sugar cane and they make lots of candies and drinks from it. In particular, a sugar cane taffy. In shops lining the street men can be found pulling and beating the taffy into shape. I got loads of free samples of the sticky sweet stuff.
Another popular place in town are the several hot springs. Banos is nestled right next to Tungurrahua, an active volcano, providing plenty of hot water for the springs. Next to one of the springs is a large waterfall, Virgen de Santa Agua, one of 60 in the surrounding area. On Sunday the hot springs was a popular place, with plenty of people taking a dip in the warm waters.
I meandered streets lined with the typical tourist shops, selling all sorts of vibrantly colored wares spilling out onto the sidewalk. There are adventure stores, providing tourists with anything from bike rentals to bungee jumping. Banos has a ton to do! There's biking, hiking, kayaking, ziplining, just to name a few. You can't possibly get bored here. Banos is great because there are some independent hikes available. Between inexpensive hostals, cheap market food, and DIY hikes Banos is as budget friendly as they come.
I walked and walked and walked around town wanting to take in every detail. I wanted to etch in my memory these first impressions of Banos, every single one of them. When I find a place that hits me on such a level I want to mentally record everything I come across so that year's later I can remember exactly how it looked, smelled, tasted, felt.