Anyone who knows the most rudimentary Spanish knows that ”baño” means bathroom. “Necisito el bano,” comes in very handy around here. Actually, “baño” means bath, and the nearby town of Baños is named for their thermal baths. Even better, it is only a $.25 bus ride away. Based on a recommendation, we opted for the Hosteria Duran (Duran Inn). This turned out to be one of the pricier places at a whopping $5.80 for the day. We also had to purchase spandex bathing caps for $1 each to prevent our hair from contaminating the pool. It was totally worth it to cultivate the ex-con/outlaw biker look. I’m pretty sure that cap is why not one other guest spoke to me all day. (It could also be my ongoing inability to speak Spanish.)
The pool at the Duran is fed by a natural hot spring, and so the closer you get to the corner where the water flows in, the warmer the water gets. We managed to pick a cloudy day, so we were grateful for the warm jet stream all morning. When you get too close, you can even burn yourself If you’re not careful, but we were happy for near-scalding water at times. We swam around a bit, got in and out a few times, and generally enjoyed being in a pool when it was only 65 degrees outside.
By the time we got dried off for some lunch, the heavens decided to rain on our party – literally. We sat under a giant umbrella eating hamburgesas and watching the rain taper off. As the rain ended, there was an unexpected turn of events. Apparently we were there on maintenance day, and so they drained the pool, and started patching the concrete here and there. We then learned that the pool wouldn’t be ready until 6:00 am the next day. Boo to maintenance! Hooray for the steam bath!
This little room was heated solely by the hot water rushing by. They had a large bunch of fragrant leaves by the opening which made the whole room smell vaguely like tea (in a good way). It reminded me of the awesome hamam experience we had in Turkey (refresh your memory here.)
When the cold got the better of us, we changed back out of our suits, and whiled away the afternoon enjoying the solitude of the now-deserted pool area. We found as we left that there are a few other thermal pools nearby at half the cost. I verified that they too have wifi, so we’re set for next time we go back. Just not a Wednesday (aka maintenance day).