Ecuador: Day 6, 7, 8

DAY 6 

Saying goodbye to the jungle, we started our trek up to higher altitude and cooler temperatures again. This was a relief since humidity is my enemy. To get more exercise in, we ended up in La Punta Ahuano  to see El Paillon del Diable or "The Devil's Cauldron". It's a waterfall and when viewed from the front base, you're supposed to see the devil's face. Originally, I thought it got its name from the insane gush of water and jagged rocks at the bottom of a nearly enclosed pit.

The waterfall is a very easy downhill hike, but an insane uphill climb once you're ready to leave. I saw healthy, grown men sweat through every piece of clothing. Of course, the locals seemed fine and did it without losing breath in their flip flops. But my goodness, my thighs were dead by the time I reached the top. The perks is that the souvenir stands at the entrance are the cheapest in all of Ecuador. The prices were so good, I didn't even bother haggling.

After a lunch and rest, we spent the afternoon in Baños.  This is the city that Lonely Planet and other guidebooks ruined.
Reading about it and experiencing it are two different things. In books, it's described as a city full of travellers seeking adventure. What I saw was a dingy city full of overpriced souvenir stands and locals trying to sell the same rafting, or Amazonia tour. Yes, there's a huge church and plaza, but it's filled with trash and children running around barefoot. I wouldn't visit this city again.

DAY 7 

To get away from the dirt and grime of Baños, we stayed in the mountains at one of the oldest and most historical haciendas in Ecuador. Hacienda La Cienega is one of the most beautiful places I've ever stayed. The owner, a descendant of Marques of Maenza, greeted us upon arrival. Due to a mix up, we ended up staying in their honeymoon suite. It was luxurious!! We took a bath in a jacuzzi overlooking the Cotopaxi volcano. (old backpacker, hostel living me was too relaxed and pampered to complain about this overindulgence).

The morning was cool and air was crisp when we woke. Since the hacienda was't really close to a major attraction, we toured a rose plantation (which I found dull) and had lunch in an old hotel. Not much was done, since the rest of the afternoon was a long drive back to Quito.

With a midnight flight, we had one last day to fully enjoy ourselves in Quito. This day was spent walking leisurely around and picking up any last minute souvenirs for friends and family. While visiting one market close to the hotel, we picked up a beautiful original painting from the artist himself! 

It was cloudy and rainy the last day, which meant that any sight seeing ontop of a hill or mountain was out of the question. With enough churches under our belt, we checked out the local supermarkets and shopping centres. All in all, it was a slow and steady day before we made our way to the airport and back home.