Living next door to Tungurahua
Trip Start May 13, 2007
36Trip End Ongoing
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So right at this moment, preparing my blog, Iīm laying in a hammock and keeping my eye on the volcano from which the clouds have just cleared and which is letting out huge clouds of dirty smoke.
We are working on a WWOOF farm just outside the town of Banos. The farm, which is actually more a big garden is called Tungurahua Tea Room, after the volcano that is visible from most parts of the garden.
The town of Banosī, which is within walking distance, name means ĻThe Baths (or the toilets) and is names so because of all the thermal baths
The most interesting aspect of our surroundings is of course the active volcano, Tungurahua. We are very lucky in where we stay because we have a clear view of her. From most places in Banos you canīt see her but we can run out and look at her whenever the clouds clear, or whenever she makes a big noise. She has been active for the past 10 years and last year on July 14 and August 16 there were two big eruptions, which must have been very spectacular and very scary. There was lightening hopping between mountains 20km apart, red hot rocks the size of golf balls fell from the sky and of course there was lava, which luckily didnīt come close to the town and stopped about 2km from where we stay. Less spectacular, but just as deadly, were clouds of of poisenous gas that came down from the mountain and ash rain that fell for weeks afterwards. After 2 big eruptions she has been quiterer and mostly making herself heard around full moon. This is an interesting fact about volcanos, which I didnīt know, they are more active around full moon. This makes complete sense of course, I guess it works the same as with the tides. Tomorrow night is full moon and we have really seen an increase in activity. The first 3 weeks we spend here we saw nothing but smoke and heard the odd rumbling but this week we actually saw lava flowing from the crater and she spewed some things into the air
Ok now for the more boring info. Everything is much more relaxed here than on the previous farm. Our facilities are basic but comfortable, with a small room for me and Brian, right next to the open air kitchen. The kitchen is not modern but with the gas stove we have been eating really well. We cook for ourselves and between the four of us most meals have been outstanding.
We were 4 people working on the farm but at the moment it is just the 2 of us. Mario, the permanent worker, who is a very interesting guy and a great cook, has left for 2 weeks vacation. There was also another volunteer Richard, who had worked here for a month. He is the same Richard we met in Intag, just with longer hair and a beard and weīve been having a great time with him. There is also a part time worker that comes in on Thursdays and Fridays, his name is Don Victor and he is 96 years old
Our days start at 7 with oats, panela (brown sugar) and coffee. Between 7:30 and 8 we start work, which can be weeding, planting or , mostly, building a garden path. 9:30 is tea time and this is always a surprise because the tea always comes from the garden. My favourite tea is lemongrass of which there is an abundance. After tea it is back to work in the garden. The 5000m2 garden is beautiful with lots of colourful flowers that atract colibris (hummingbirds) and butterflies, and a few vegetable patches to feed the hungry workers. Lunch is from noon to one and almost always has zanahoria blancas (white carrots) in. THere are many of these root vegetables in the garden and so everyone is trying to use them in a tasty way. After lunch we work for 2 hours intil three and then we have the afternoon to ourselves. Most of the time before sundown is spent in the hammocks, reading, writing, learning Spanish or just thinking. THen comes the dark, and inevitably with it comes candles, loads of popcorn with chili sauce and card games.
Last Monday night, after our Tungurahua climb (of which I will tell more next time) we decided that we definately needed the healing powers of the thermal pools. It was a great way to soothe our tired bodies. The water come directly from hot springs created by the volcano and is the temperature of too hot bath water. We spent 2 hours in the pool, Brian alternated between hot and cold pools because it is impossible to stay in the hot water for more than 10 minutes at a time. The hot water really tires you out and we had a wonderful nightīs sleep when we got home.
We do more than lie in hammocks here and next time I will tell about our Tungurahua climb and our cycling trip to the edge of the amazon.