Soaking It Up

Our trip to Ecuador included a visit to Termas de Papallacta, a hot springs high in the Andes. We never did get a glimpse of glacier draped Antisana, a huge mountain that towers over all, but during a couple days in a cabana , we spent plenty of time soaking. The place has more than 20 pools--all different temperatures--and many are artfully configured with stone edgings and mosaics. The Artiste once spent all night soaking, gazing up at a spectacular skyscape. and Birdboy was in the water every chance he got.

As for me, I had to spend some time admiring the plant life, which was celebrated in surrounding gardens with swaths of echeverrias, calla lillies, fucshia, Brugmansia sanguinea, and so many others, most, sadly, unknown to me.

Decades ago, I passed through Papallacta while I was on a 6-month hitchhiking trip through Latin America. As it happens, I got there by bus, a battered, smoke-belching vehicle crawling up out of the sweltering Amazon basin from the jungle town of Misahualli. Of course the bus was full, and I was riding on the rooftop luggage rack (the better for awesome views of the Andes). When I got to Papallacta, dusty and dry (me, not the village), those hotsprings--then totally undeveloped--were mighty inviting. So, it was nice to discover, even having been gentrified (or what passes for same in a remote hamlet), they are still an enticing spot for serious R&R.

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