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Tuesday 23rd March 2010


On the bus ride from Quito to Banos, my small backpack which was between my legs on the bus at all times was slashed and all the stuff in the front pocket was stolen. They got my underwater camera, normal camera, Lonely Planet, laptop charger (so laptop is now useless) plus heaps of little stuff. Could have been much worse as I still have my passport and bank cards. I found out later on that itīs quite a common crime on that bus route. They must have climbed under the seat in front of me and taken my stuff right before my eyes. Quite amazing really! Such an amazing talent put to such a bad use, they should be heart surgeons with those sort of fine motor skills. I was a bit shocked at first but didnīt dwell too much on it and was able to laugh about it soon after. I had backed up my photos the night before so it was more of an inconvenience than anything else. An American  girl who was sitting across the isle from me also had her bag slashed and money and camera stolen. A couple of days later I had fun stitching up the cut with some metal thread and slashproofing both pockets by lining the inside with chicken wire. If they strike again, Iīm ready! I was actually eyeing off a slash proof backpack before I left Oz but couldnīt justify the $250 price tag. Would have just payed for itself now! haha

Banos is an amazingly picturesque place. Itīs a small town that is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Quite reminiscent of Banff in Canada or Bovec in Slovenia. Itīs also a hub for action sports. I checked in to Plantos Y Blanco Hostel which had been recommended to me. Itīs an awesome hostel with a sweet rooftop bar and was really easy to meet other travellers. I actually bumped into a girl (Sylvia) that I went to University with in Newcastle which was crazy! Small world!

My first day in Banos was spent chasing up a police report for my travel insurance. I went to the main Police station and got a ride in a Police car to another station where a helpful bloke wrote a short report for me. It was quite a funny situation and there was a bit of a language barrier but the cops were so friendly.

The next day I went white water rafting in the morning and canyoning in the afternoon.

The class 4 rapids ensured there was plenty of hairy moments and there were numerous times that our raft was so far up on one side that I couldn't even reach the water with my paddle. Awesome fun! One of the other rafts in our group capsized and the occupants got thrown into the icy water. I just happened to be the closest to the action and had to pull two people (a mother and her son) out of the water. It's not easy pulling the full weight of a person out of the water while trying not to get pulled in yourself. The mother was quite hysterical and in shock. She was also quite blue and for a second I thought she wasn't breathing. Was quite scary but worked out ok in the end.

Canyoning was also heaps of fun! The Americans that I had met on the bus from Quito came along as well. We went down 5 waterfalls and our guide was a champ!

After successfully climbing Cotopaxi Clarkey made it to Banos and we stayed there for a few more days. One of the best days involved us jumping off a bridge in the morning then hiring quad bikes in the afternoon. Jumping off that bridge was one of the dodgiest things I have ever done! They call it puenting (which is Spanish for bridging) and it's similar to bunji except the rope doesn't stretch and you use swing beneath the bridge to absorb the shock. It was a seriously dodgy setup ... two blokes had set up their business on the bridge and I'm assuming they had no council clearance or insurance and their safety gear consisted of some witches hats. It only cost us $15 each! I was deadset shaking as I climbed over the rails of the bridge on to the rusty makeshift jumping platform. The only instructions were we given was "Jump like Michale Phelps". Clarkey and I swung our arms and jumped simultaneously! The idea is that you dive head first and then somersault as you swing under the bridge and Clarkey managed to pull this off like a pro. Unfortunately I was still in the belly flop position when I hit the bottom of the rope and got absolutely smashed and went into a spin. It was quite terrifying! I'm glad I did it though and I'd probably do it again.

That afternoon and still buzzing from the bridge jump, we hired quad bikes and spent the next 4 hours zooming around like absolute maniacs. It was so much fun, they were pretty fast but became quite unstable at high speeds! We went to the top of 2 volcanoes and admired the amazing views. I ran out of petrol on the way back down the second volcano but luckily it was all down hill so I was able to roll back into town. The chick seemed dirty at how much petrol we had used ... gold!

We capped off an awesome day with an awesome night at the roof top bar at the hostel. Meet a bunch of Americans, Germans and Dutch and kicked on until the early hours of the morning. Had to drag myself out of bed for a 10am Spanish lesson that I had booked the day before. The lesson was pretty good fun and the teacher cleared up a few things that I wasn't sure of.

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Dan brand Orange Juice in Slovenia ... what a country!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
--Mark Twain

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