10 de Agosto Holidays Travelogue Part 1
Saturday 8 August 2009
We had service on Friday night so those who wanted to travel out for a longer holiday could do so over the long weekend. 🙂 We booked a one day trip to Papallacta, which is 67km east of Quito (1hr 40mins by car). A small town famous for its Termas or Natural Hot Springs as it lies between two dormant volcanoes.
Our guide, David, speaks good English. Along the way, we noticed that the roads were wet and rocks were rather black or red, unlike when we travel up north to Ibarra or even south to Cotopaxi. On the way back, I asked David about it and understood that this area is basically volcanic AND humid. That explains the colour and fertility of the ground. Lots of green plants though it was about 3400m above sea level. Very good for growing crops. Saw quite a few plantations and haciendas of horses and cows. (Learnt a geography term too – “Páramo” means the area of the mountains between 3000-4000m above sea level. Papallacta lies in the páramo.) I asked also, what happens if the volcanos erupt… and David said simply, “Well, the towns disappear!” Woah…. that would be sad… but thankfully the last time one of these erupted was 200 years ago. Hehe..
David brought us to one of the better hostal/hotel “Termas de Papallacta” to enjoy the pools as the other public pools would be too crowded due to the public holiday. The weather was rather cold when we reached but that made the warmth of the hot spring more than welcome! 😉 The natural hot springs are said to have medical qualities due to the temperature and minerals, but I’m not quite sure if that’s really true. Haha, we did find our skin smoother than usual after the soak though! 😉 There was, however, quite a list of “warnings” outside the ticket booth, explaining what you should do and shouldn’t do such as how long you should stay in the pool, what to do if you feel dizzy, pregnant ladies ought to seek medical advice etc.
We were the only Chinese or Asian looking people there and quite a number of people looked at us curiously (in a friendly manner, as though they would like to speak to us but weren’t sure if we spoke spanish.) We kept our ‘half-ecuadorian’ identity secret till almost the end of our hour there where we started taking photos and a family from San Goquil asked us some questions. Well, when we replied in Spanish to them, I felt like the others around started paying attention to our conversation. Haha.. We explained that we were not Chinese from China, but from Singapore (unheard-of country), and clarified that we don’t own chifas (chinese restaurants). Shared that we were English and Mandarin teachers and taught them a few simple chinese words. Ecuadorians are quite friendly in general. hehe.
After the hot spring bath, we took a short nature walk with our guide along the river. Quite a number of rivers running around Papallacta. Cool weather to take a nature walk. We enjoyed ourselves, just walking and looking at strange plants and flowers and just simply, the mountains and nature. We saw just a little bit of the snow-capped volcanoes. Would have been awesome to catch it when there were no clouds. But David explained that this area is usually cloudy because it’s more humid than the other mountains.
All in all, beautiful scenery, relaxing hot springs, cool nature walk. And it only took essentially, a morning. Reached back in Quito at 3pm. 4 stars out of 5 for the trip.