Baños is a small city/large town about 4 hours south of Quito. You can find a very inexpensive bus ticket at any of the major bus stations in Quito. It's similar to Mindo, in that it's a pretty big place for eco-tourism - there's ziplining, canyoning, tubing, among other nature-based activities. There are many massage parlors offering relatively cheap massage treatments. Also Baños is famous for their taffy candy.
(note: I did not look this glam. At all)
The first night, we went to the public baths. We needed to rent/buy swim caps in order to enter the baths. There were a lot of people there, all in their colored polyester caps. Many of them appeared to be Ecuadorean, but there were several people who were obviously gringos.
The water was a steaming, unappealing brown. However, the water felt lovely and it was super relaxing to just steep in it. They also had some cold showers that you should hop into prior to getting in the bath, which serves the dual purpose of de-sensitizing you to the heat, as well as (according to a friend) purging you of toxins.
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<p>I'm Oonagh (ooh-nah), a junior at Grinnell College, and a Political Science major who fancies herself an occasional artist and a lifelong doodler. I'm very excited and mildly terrified to start my stay in Quito, but I'm very much looking forward to immersing myself in the language and culture.</p>