October 8-9 2003.

Three South American hours from Quito (according to the lady at the bus station... try 5 hours) and we were in Banos, Ecaudor's adventure capital.

The Banos claim to fame is not that it is named after the Spanish word for toilet (or bath) but rather its somewhat boisterous volcano that has been playing up quite solidly for the last 4 years.

The town was evacuated a few years ago and most people have returned after things failed to get worse.

(Andy & Jen flew over to see us from the UK)

Andy hates bikes, so we decided to go mountain biking for the day with the aim getting as far towards Puyo at the start of the Amazon basin as possible.

Along the way were numerous waterfalls of which this is probably the smallest and shows us pulling the silliest faces (we were getting wet).

Andy's spirit couldn't be broken by a slight sunglass accident....

.... and within the hour he has dived 40 foot off the swing jump and is loving it.

Now it is Jason's turn.

The nice chap in the yellow and blue jacket straps him in, while Jason's gang looks on, making sure there is no funny business.

From L-R - Miguel (Lawyer), Julio (hit-man), Julio brother (drug dealer), Jose (Policeman on payroll), and the other Miami Vice extras.

And we are off... those braver than Jason let go of the rope and lay-back... but Jason had a bollock trapped in his harness so was reluctant to let go as every bounce of the rope bought a fresh grimmace.

One of the great surprises of Banos was finding that they still manufacturing the environmental crime of the fruit shaped, plastic sherbert container.

Here's Claire helping the local kids with their aspirations for all things Western like tooth decay, gum disease, and the great moment of the empty plastic fruit shaped sherbert container.

By mid-afternoon, (big achievement for Andy who is now on fag 20) we have had enough.

We travelled back to Banos for a beer in the back of this suspensionless truck with 4 others and 8 bicycles.

The last day saw Jason, Andy's, and Claire's first foray into white water rafting. ( Claire was not happy to be doing this but caved into group pressure...)

After a 30 minute training session (during which Claire had her fingers in her ears) we were off.

2 minutes in and we hit the first rapid and Claire is out of the boat. Jason couldn't believe it!

Obviously this was Jason's fault and the fault of the other boat on the trip. So we gave the other boat a good soaking while Claire's only enjoyment was to hit Jason on the head with her paddle - much to the delight of our very funny guide Omar.

Banos - nice place shame about the ash from the volcano. Off to Otavalo.

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