One of our favorite things about this trip is learning to adjust to the unexpected. Notice I didn’t say “manage” or “deal with” the unexpected, because often there is really nothing to do but sway and move with it.
We came to Baños as a Plan B after learning of severe flooding in Colombia, and we expected to spend a few days hiking, biking, and enjoying the warmer weather until we headed back north. What we did not anticipate was the awakening of Volcano Tungurahua the night before we arrived.
How’s that for dodging bad weather?
The town of Baños is built in a valley and surrounded on all sides by mountains, one of which happens to be a volcano. In 1999, it erupted enough to warrant the evacuation of the entire city for 8 months.
There was activity again in May/June of this year, and now again it is spewing. We noticed the plume of smoke from the bus window on our way into town, and we’ve seen it every day since.
In fact, each morning at breakfast we noticed the staff sweeping the terrace outside the restaurant with facemasks and large brooms. The first morning I thought they were just “spring cleaning” and wondered why they did it at breakfast in view of all the guests. After 3 days, I realized they were sweeping off the ash that accumulates on the rooftop every single day.
All the residents of Baños seem to have the same attitude about Tungurahua: it is more dangerous to live here than some places, sure, but the risk is worth it given all the beauty and pleasant weather. It is hard to disagree after being here for a few days. This is a stunning place that is ideal for people who love the outdoors.
We have been told Tungurahua is closely monitored by scientists and safe to be here until they say so, and we have been hiking up to viewpoints to watch the volcano and looking at the reddish glow over the mountain in the evenings. In fact, if you hike up high enough to get away from the noise of the city you can hear Tungurahua “speaking” to you. Some days you don’t even have to leave town to hear her grumbling as loud as thunder.
It is really awe-inspiring to think we are witnessing a potentially earth-changing event. When it comes to amazing travel experiences, it will be hard to beat this one.
If you cannot see the video below, please click here.
We have decided to stay for another week, and we’ll be posting daily pictures and updates on our Facebook page for you to follow along. We’ve also sent an email to the official Married with Luggage Volcanologist™ in Seattle and will let you know what she says. (We met her on Craigslist, but it is not what you think…)
We have plenty more to write about Baños in addition to the volcano – the thermal baths, hiking, biking, and the amazing plant and wildlife, not to mention an interesting ex-pat community – so stay tuned.