Captured for the Camera in Beautiful Baños

View of Baños From a Mountain Path High AboveLast year at this time I was planted in the laid-back little Andean town of Baños, Ecuador.  It’s the type of place you can easily get stuck in for a while, especially if you’re feeling weary of traveling.

Because the town thrives exclusively on tourism, it’s traveler friendly.  It’s also very affordable.  Included in the town’s attractions are therapeutic visits to mountain hot springs.  There’s also a strip of massage therapy salons, and plenty of nice places to eat.

I’m currently sifting through my Ecuador photos of last year.  I picked out 12 random ones from Baños that I feel deserve to be part of this post.

Included in the 12 is the one above, which shows a picture from high above the small town.

ENJOY!

Volcán Tungurahua Shrouded in Dense CloudsWhen I took the very top photo, I was on my way to this look out point called Ojos del Volcán  or the Eyes of the Volcano.   This was as close as I’d get to Volcán Tungurahua.  About a week later, while walking to Termas El Salado, I caught a view of this volcano erupting.   I later learned that it had erupted around two hours prior to that view.

Exotic Andean FlowersI have no idea what these exotic Andean flowers are called but I came across them on the same trail that led me to the eyes of the volcano.  As Baños sits at an altitude of 1,815 meters or 5,955 feet and just a mere 1.24º south of the equator, the flora can be spectacular, as seen here.

Cuy or Guinea Pigs on the GrillThese Guinea Pigs or Cuy were being grilled right on the sidewalk.  A foreigner may find himself shocked but this is second nature to many in the region.  Cuy is a common dish in parts of Colombia, Ecuador, Perú and Bolivia.  What I find especially striking about this shot is the Guinea Pig at the top of the photo. It looks as if it was screaming in agony (and still is) as his world was horrifically terminated.

Two Dogs Transfixed Upon Another DogWhile meandering along a side street, I came across this pair of photogenic canines.  They had absolutely no interest in me or my camera as they were transfixed upon another one of their own kind being walked by its owner.

A Typical Baños StreetThis is a walking view from a typical stroll along an idyllic narrow street. Like everywhere I visited in the Andes, the weather varies from sun, to gray, to rain many times daily.  The climate I found to be perfect.

Two Girls Conducting A Lesson in World GeographyDuring a personalized tour of the Fundación Arte Del Mundo, a non profit organization that provides poor children with education in literacy and art, these two girls gave me a lesson on world geography.

Two Schoolgirls Walking Perfectly In-SyncWhat I find compelling about this shot is that the two girls appear to be walking perfectly in-sync.  Other than seeing two pairs of feet and legs, it appears as if there is only one schoolgirl.

Young Girl Gawking at Beggar With GangreenFirst I walked past the beggar and was horrified by what I think was a Gangrene infested leg.  After walking by the little girl I stopped and looked at her, trying to imagine what was going through her mind as she stood, mesmerized, gawking at the man.  This went on for at least a minute before I pulled my camera out and started snapping.  As I walked away, this very young girl was still transfixed on the man.   I’m sure that her gaze implanted a lifelong memory.  I thought: Reality can be brutal.

Gringo Por Favor!I will chalk this up as a controversial shot.  I bought their food but didn’t ask if I could have a photo. At the time, I didn’t notice that the two women were unhappy as I was merely taking what I thought were inconspicuous shots.  This is in the central market.  These two women must be tired of foreign tourists wielding their cameras about.   I don’t mean to be malicious.  This photo was an accident.  Because of its uniqueness, I found it to be worthy of posting.

Lady Posing Amidst a Colorful Array of Fruits and VeggiesThis photo was also shot in the central market.  I found this woman to have the best selection of fruit in the whole place so I bought from her on numerous occasions.  Fortunately, she was more than happy to pose in front of the wonderfully colorful array of tropical fruits and veggies that she sold daily.

Woman Selling TaffyBaños is a town that’s known throughout Ecuador for its production of melcocha or fresh taffy made from sugar cane.  While walking along the taffy shops strip, this happy and kind lady insisted I try some and take a photo of her.

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Baños is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ecuador.  It’s a natural wonderland that boasts over sixty waterfalls.  It’s known as the gateway to the Amazon and is a town that I  recommend visiting if you ever make it to Ecuador.

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28 Responses to Captured for the Camera in Beautiful Baños

  1. Banos looks like a really fun place. I like the shot of the woman making melcocha! definitely on my list. in 10 days from now I’m going on my first lone term trip to South America for 7 months and really exited about it!

  2. Al says:

    Mike, I was shocked as well by the guinea pig shot, it looks like something out of some horror movie. Baños looks like a little great place to chill for a few days, or more. Some amazing views of and from the mountains too. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Maria says:

    Mike, must have been difficult to leave with Ojos del Volcán in your “backyard” – those photos are worthy of posting – I’d like the trumpet shaped flowers blown up, maybe printed on canvas. Those colors and the lighting are sumptuous.

    • Mike says:

      MARIA: Thanks! It was definitely easy to spend two and a half weeks there. The natural beauty surrounding the town is dream like and it’s just so easy to pass time there as a traveler. If you’d like the original photo of the trumpet shaped flowers, I’ll happily send it to you.

  4. Arianwen says:

    I loved Banos too. The bike ride past all those waterfalls was fantastic. I waited till I got to Peru to try cuy, which was a shame because it’s delicious :)

    • Mike says:

      ARIANWEN: I also managed to see some very high waterfalls during a hike near the town, at that point, my camera’s battery had run out of juice.

      Just the fact that you tried the cuy when you got to Perú makes you more courageous than most foreigners.

  5. I must go back and see more of Ecuador.

  6. Ayngelina says:

    I had my first cuy in Banos too! Such a lovely little town.

    • Mike says:

      AYNGELINA: Actually, I just took pics of the cuy in Baños as I was on a vegetarian kick during my time there. Because it’s a tourist town there was a great vegetarian restaurant that I frequented.

  7. Rebecca says:

    Awesome photos – especially the volcano – love it!
    The guinea pig shot has made my stomach turn though!

    • Mike says:

      REBECCA: One thousand thanks! I don’t envision you ever bringing a guinea pig recipe home to cook for your friends. The site of miniature marinated carcasses on a grill will probably turn their stomachs too.

      I was fortunate enough to see that same volcano actually erupting. Here’s the photo:

  8. Shing says:

    Far from the stereotype of beauty I was expecting. But this is definitely the beauty of a country! Your commentaries really added to looking at your photos – I at first missed the guinea pig screaming at the back, and when I glanced back up to look for it it absolutely terrified me – it’s really cinematic! And the picture of the young girl looking at the beggar from a distance is very moving.

    I really like your version of what beautiful means Mike.

    • Mike says:

      SHING: Thanks so much! Using the word beautiful in the title may have partly been for alliterative purposes but yes! There is much more to the word than just describing nature or exteriors. If you glance at the second guinea pig from the front, it’s lying on its back in sheer agony and is perhaps equally as horrid looking as the top one. I suppose it’s nothing to the locals who have seen this sort of thing for as long as they can remember.

  9. Maria says:

    I’ve only ever seen Guinea Pigs in a pet store – interesting entree choice though.

    • Mike says:

      MARIA: Yeah, in Europe or the US, most people can’t imagine little guinea pigs providing human sustenance. I was shocked at the initial site on the sidewalk. I’m pretty sure that they’re also somewhat common to eat in some far-eastern Asian lands. Not to be closed-minded, but they’re far from my optimal choice for an an entrée. :-)

  10. jill says:

    We spent 6 weeks in Banos volunteering for the Fundacion. This post brings back so many good memories. Thanks for the share. We looooooved this town.

    • Mike says:

      JILL: I’m happy that you were able to retrieve those good memories. It’s just a perfect little town. So cool that you volunteered at the Fundación. Such great kids, and of course you must know that super cool cat called Carl, one of the directors.

  11. TheTuscan says:

    I can’t ever get used to insanely unstable weather instead. Nice photos of a south-American country, a continent I’d like to visit

    • Mike says:

      TUSCAN: I hope that you can make it to South America. I also hope to make it back. It’s only in the Andes where the weather is so whimsical. I can almost promise you that the beauty makes it well worth it. My guess is that with your Tuscan tongue you’ll be able to quickly adapt to the Spanish.

  12. Mamma says:

    Tusen takk busketroll ! Flotte bilder !
    Love, Mamma

  13. Great shots Mike, but what I really loved was your captions, unique moments in time from your stay. That’s the great things about photos, isn’t it, they bring back the feelings you had in these moments that you may otherwise forget.

    • Mike says:

      SARAH: Thanks! You’re spot on. Perusing through photos causes me to reminisce. I also find writing little captions about them to be great fun. :-)

  14. Pru says:

    Wow, very cool photos! When I saw the title of your post I thought it was going to be about beautiful bathrooms; obviously my Spanish is rusty, and I’m unfamiliar with Ecuador. :)

    • Mike says:

      PRU: Thanks! Actually, the official name of the town is Baños de Agua Santa. You are correct that el baño or los baños means bathroom in Latin American Spanish. However, I don’t have a bathroom fetish and can’t envision myself posting about beautiful bathrooms. :-)

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