Category: Uncategorized

Soaking in the Beauty of Baños

One of my favorite things about volunteering at Mayra’s Spanish School and living in one of Mayra’s apartments has been the beautiful views. All it takes is a short walk up the stairs to the top-floor terrace to get a perfect view of la Cascada de la Virgen and of the surrounding town. There is also a garden on the terrace that produces fresh herbs and seasonal tomatoes, as well as a view of the mountains. It is stunning at any hour of the day, rain or shine (usually shine!). It serves as a perfect place for a deep breath and a moment of peace.

Not only are there beautiful views of nature, but there are also beautiful murals painted by other volunteers that cover the walls all around the building. Personally, my favorite pieces are above my bed and near the first-floor stairs. I’ve attached the photos below 🙂 I am originally from the US, and my whole experience has been unlike anything I have ever seen before.

Overall, I have enjoyed my time in Baños and I have appreciated the opportunity to help Mayra and her family continue rebuilding their school after a hard few years. As we all know, tourism and the service industry were hit especially hard during the pandemic. Marya still offers many opportunities for spacious housing, customizable Spanish courses, English courses, and volunteering. Mayra puts her family first and works hard to continue serving the community in her hometown of Baños through various fundraisers and classes. The school serves as a great place for learning as well as a perfect location to easily access local vendors, nearby hikes, and transportation. During my time here I have thoroughly enjoyed becoming more familiar with the beauty of Baños!



Social Media & Engllish Teaching Volunteer

Rock Climbing: Pushing Limits

Just a short bus or cab ride from the town of Baños you can go rock climbing on a volcanic rock wall overlooking the river. And the views are just breath-taking. Rock climbing is a sport of setting goals and achieving them. Whether it takes 1 try or 100, you always have to challenge yourself. But the result is truly rewarding. When you reach the top and reflect on all you have done to get to your view from on top of the world. You really earned it.

To get to the climbing spot you can either catch a bus from Mayra’s place for 30 cents or take a cab ride for $1.50 to San Martin. Once there you pay $2 to enter the park, if you have your own equipment you are ready to go if not you can rent it once you reach there. You can also get a guide + gear + transport in Banos. You walk down to the wall and there are usually other climbers there as well.

Speaking from personal experience climbing here in Ecuador is just amazing. I experienced volcanic rock for the first time and even though it’s a bit slippery, the rock formations are incredible. I love it and if you ever visit Ecuador, I highly recommend it! The level of the routes range from beginners to the most experience and they even have multi-pitch climbing but unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to try.

-Ariel & Zan

White Water Rafting

My name is Ariel Stolz and I’m 22 years old!

That’s Me 🙂

Right now I’m volunteering at Mayra’s Spanish School with my boyfriend as we travel around Colombia and Ecuador for two months. We film ukulele tutorials and showcase the beautiful places that we are visiting or living in and post it to Youtube as Ariel Ukulele.  

Estoy aprediendo español! But I have a lot more to learn and going to a spanish school and being immersed in the culture is the perfect way to improve.

One of the best parts of volunteering here is that we get to stay two weeks in a beautiful town! There is so much to do here and in my next few posts I’m going to share some of the activities that I did and you can do too!

White Water Rafting

After arriving late Saturday evening we went to bed “early” (before midnight) because we had to wake up bright and early for our rafting trip the next day. We paid only $20 per person and we got a whole day experience and lunch!

The drive to the rafting spot was amazing, we saw so many gorgeous waterfalls since the whole road was along the river. Once we finally arrived to the river we got the rundown: how to paddle, the commands to listen out for, how to help people back onto the boat, ect. So now we are basically rafting experts!

We started out on our adventure!

It was tons of fun and really relaxed. At least at the beginning until our guide decided that it would be hilarious to push people into the water when they weren’t looking. Soon no one was safe and everyone went in the water at least once, or many twenty times. If you tried to help someone else back in the boat you were vulnerable and probably the next victim! Finally we had to compose ourselves because the rapids were coming again.

At the end of the trip we went to a restaurant for lunch.

Across the street they were selling Cuy, which is guinea pig! And we tried a piece before heading home for the day!

Exploring Baños, Ecuador

The City of Baños

Baños de Agua Santa (known as Baños) is a truly beautiful city. It is located at the northern foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, at an elevation of 1,820 meters (5,971 feet) in central Ecuador. Baños de Agua Santa translates to Baths of Holy Water. It is named after the hot springs located around the city! These hot springs even have healing properties due to various mineral content.

Gateway to the Amazon

Baños is well-known as the “Gateway to the Amazon”, because it is the last big city before reaching the jungle and the Amazon River basin. It is popular with both foreign and domestic travelers coming for outdoor activities and nature, that’s why Baños is also known as the adventure capital of Ecuador. You can go white water rafting, hike to waterfalls, rock climbing, biking, puenting, swing at the casa del arbol, explore the beautiful town, eat local foods and much more!

In upcoming posts Ariel (another volunteer here with Mayra) will tell you more about the activities she did in Baños.

The waterfall: Manto de la Novia

-Esmee 🙂

Studying Spanish!

Learning Spanish with Mayra!

In the previous post I told you a little bit about my adventures during my year away. But, before all the adventures started, I wanted to learn Spanish. As I did not speak any Spanish, it would definitely be convenient traveling by myself as a woman and of course because I would like to communicate with locals I meet during my travels.

At the beginning I was really nervous to learn a new language. I had just graduated so I was done with school and learning and then it all started again. But let me tell you, it was the best thing I did. Not going to lie, the first week was really hard. Once I arrived, I immediately started Spanish classes and stayed with a homestay family. It was a lot of Spanish at once! But the first week passed and it got really fun. Learning a new language, learning about a new culture and being able to talk to people in their language (I could not do that within one week) opens new doors.

I studied for 5 weeks, and at that point I felt confident enough to start traveling and speaking Spanish. At the beginning it was hard to talk in Spanish, all the information I’d learned needed to be processed. But after being immersed in the language I learned even more. Now, almost at the end of my travels, I’m back taking Spanish classes.  Mostly because I want to continue learning and because I enjoy speaking and practicing Spanish and understanding it.

Be inspired and get out of the comfort zone. Learn a new language and enjoy your travels to the fullest!

Hola, we’re back!

It has been a while, but we’re back! For those of you who are thinking about visiting Baños and maybe taking some Spanish classes here. I would 100% recommend it!

First, let me introduce myself. I’m Esmee, 25 years old and from the Netherlands. I started my one-year travel adventure in Guatemala and visited many countries throughout Central America and South America, and now, 11 months later, I’m at my end point in Baños, Ecuador. At the moment I’m helping Mayra with the language school and all kinds of other stuff, but most importantly, I am taking Spanish classes at the school and enjoying Baños.

Learn spanish with this amazing view of the waterfall and mountains!

I’ve been in Baños for almost 4 months now and would like to take you with me on the adventures you can experience here through these blog posts.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the first post in a long time. Let me know what else you would like to read, see and get to know about Baños.