Our Ecuadorian experience began with a Parillada (BBQ) at the home of a family friend. A parillada is a traditional charcoal grill that slow cooks the food and gives it an incredible flavor. It was hands down the best food we had the whole time we were there. We stayed with my friend several times throughout the trip, using Quito as our home base for travelling north and south in the country. We had these adorable children to play with (and later catch the flu from) throughout our trip.
From Quito, our first trip was south to Baños. Yes, Baños like bathrooms. I assume the name is derived from the natural hot spring baths the town is popular for though I never asked. We borrowed a car from my friend to make the trip. Borrowing the car made everything easier and at the same time quite complicated. The signage in Ecuador is about the same quality as any other Central or South American country I have ever been to. My friend described it by saying, “There may not be a sign marking the road, and if there is, it may be behind a tree.” Then there’s always the emergency evacuation route sign that suggests you will be running from Godzilla.
Baños is a fun town that caters to a backpackers and adventure seekers. You can find tours in Baños to do anything that involves a risk of harm to your body or your life, though all completed under the guise of a safety harness. However, it onto our itinerary when I found a picture of this on Pinterest.
This is my photo of the gorgeous Pailon del Diablo. Pailon del Diablo is a waterfall with this stunning stone staircase sitting in the mist of the bottom of the falls. The waterfall is about a thirty minute drive out of town. There’s no sign marking where to turn, but the people are friendly, so I just stopped and asked. Unfortunately, by the time I asked I had driven past it by about fifteen minutes and a river. It is near the Rio Verde. If you reach Rio Negro you’ve gone too far.
Getting to the waterfall is about a twenty minute hike from the car, but so worth it. There is also a crawl through a damp cave involved in getting to the top. Once you have hiked up to the top of the waterfall, you can visit the bridge that you see in the background of the picture of the staircase. It gives a lovely view of the whole waterfall.
On the way down to the falls you may judge the people you see huffing and puffing, seated along the side of the path. Don’t. If you are anything like me, you will look like them sooner than you think. The hike back is when you begin to remember the elevation that your body is not used to and its impact on your breathing… that’s what I blame for the level of total windedness I experienced anyway. In the end the journey was worth it. I survived and have pictures to prove it. I do think they could make a good business off t-shirts saying, “I survived the climb to Pailon del Diablo.”