Saturday, December 21, 2013



The couple who runs Pizza Kono invited me to an outing they were having with several of their neighbors.  In the USA, this sort of thing doesn't happen most places.  Not since the days of 'block parties' are people willing to speak to their neighbors.  The most you usually know them is in the half hearted wave once per day thing.  Here, the people actually wanted to hang out together.

I waffled a good deal on this.  They wanted to go at nine in the morning and I am pretty nocturnal, often sleeping until sometime between ten and noon.  When he offered to come get me from the hostel, I knew going was going to happen.  I am loath to give up my 'beauty sleep'.  Clearly, I need all I can get.

During the wee (9ish) hours of the morning, the owner of the hostel banged on my door and announced people were here for me.  Stumbling out of the hostel, I espied an ancient van with my friends and slunk into it.  The van was one of those with 'personality'.  Too much personality.  The side door stopped working.  When it began to rain, I joked that we might get a free swimming pool out of it.  The van ran out of gas later.  It was all kinds of fun.

Whenever we got near a police checkpoint, the driver would pull over and switch places with his wife.  Later I asked why and was told he'd forgotten his license at home.  "You had one job..." I joked.

Once we got to the old campsite, there was talk about moving to a different one as it had begun to rain.  Eventually, this idea was discarded and we all paid our $2 each to use the pavilion area.

I have several pictures of the site here.  It's an old place and I figured it would be good for one, maybe two groups of a dozen people.  During the weekends I was told there were hundreds of people here.  This is freaky to me.  It seemed like it would feel crowded with over 20 but to compete with hundreds of people for the small cooking area and such - absurd.  But it is very popular and they don't seem to have a lot of these places around.

From a distance, the site looks presentable as most do but up close...well, I feel I'd need shots to enter the water and there was enough jagged metal and things that in the states they may have used flame throwers on it just to avoid the lawsuits.  In the rest of the world, they teach you to be more responsible for yourself rather than sue those who let you fall into pits and such.

In almost 1970's fashion upon arrival the men went off to play football while the women prepared food.  I stuck with the women as my interest and ability to play football (or any sport) is on the low end of nonexistent.  I did a bit of chatting and a bit of laying around in a hammock for as long as my back could stand it.

In the end, I was happy I went and had a nice time.  I did feel like a bit of a downer because it was I who ended the party at about four by asking my friends "Don't you have a business to run?"  They did but were reluctant to leave the swimming pool.  I'm still not use to the 'laid back lifestyle' here.

Of Mera (the town) itself I saw little other than the town square - it's a very small place and doesn't seem to have much else of interest.


On the drive back from Mera, I spotted a very nice compound within walking distance (2-4 KM I'd guess) of Banos and decided to check it out later.

It turned out to be named 'Samari'.

This is the kind of place that if you'd like to drop between $186 and $253 per night (plus tax) you can do it.  This gives you access to the pools, steam rooms, Jacuzzi - sometimes in your own room - but treatments such as massages are extra.

According to the nice lady who gave me a tour of the place, they have thirty seven rooms.  These are usually full so it is necessary to book in advance I was told.  I only saw one family during my time there.  According to my guide, of the guests they usually have, half are locals.  In a country where the average wage is under $5000 per year, this is astonishing.  Would I stay there if I could?  Sure - but I'd rather stay a month and a half in a place I can afford instead...

This place is not conveniently located so any time people want to leave it will be necessary for them to have a taxi called.  I don't imagine the people who stay here would be big fans of walking on dirty streets sometimes lacking in sidewalks as I did.

Pictures of this very pretty place can be found here.

For anyone with the means, here is the contact information:

Samari Spa Resort
Av. de las Amazonas
Via a Puyo Km. 1
Banos, Tungurahua
Tel: +593 - 3 - 274 1855, Fax +593 - 3 - 274 1859.  E-mail:  Webpage:

As I was leaving, I discovered my hat was not in my bag.  I asked my guide about it.

"It is on you bag."

"Er - it's not in my bag - I just looked."

She then showed me.  She hadn't said 'bag' but 'back'.  It was hanging from a strap around my neck and was on my back.  I beamed at her, nodded and said "I'm an idiot.  Thank you!"

Exit, stage right.


Why this was written up:

It feels odd writing about myself but a) some people have expressed an interest and b) a time traveler told me that a lot of history books have gotten wrong some of the stories of my life.  Since it is featured so predominantly in these books it would be less embarrassing if they had some of the details right - hence would I please write up some tales from my history.  I told him it sounded a bit egocentric to write about my past but he assured me future generations would bless me for it and there would be statues and a large temple built to me.  I said the temple might be going a bit too far so they could replace it by naming all children born for the next decade "Logan".  Girls and boys all named Logan.  Although it was an unusual request he assured me they would grant it.  The thought of going into a room and saying "Hey Logan" and having everyone in the room think it's them fills me with a sense of joy at the confusion it will cause.  So I wrote it up.

Some folks feel this will cause paradox.  That is not my problem.  I just want a dump truck full of money which, sadly, I didn't get.  I'd gladly give up everything I own for just a little more...

To continue on with the story...

After we left East Germany the rest of the trip becomes a bit of a blur.  I'm not even sure what all countries we passed through but if I had to guess in order they would be Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and possibly Bulgaria - I'm really not sure.

What I do remember of this leg of the journey was some snapshots:

People staring angrily at us while we were in a restaurant because we were eating 'their food'.  Yes, we paid for it but food wasn't plentiful.  The same thing happened if we wanted to buy something from a store.

Everything was dirty and depressing.   Trash was liberally thrown around though I don't remember it being nearly as dirty as northern India today.

Nobody wanted to talk to us because if they did, the KGB would probably invite them around (via abduction) for a little talk (read as torture).  We were still the 'dangerous western influence'.  I'd like to think that I still am though I believe I may be delusional here.

For some reason hitchhiking didn't work.  This was probably due to the lack of private vehicles and nobody wanting to talk to us.  As a result, we took trains.  While we were at some railway station waiting for yet another train, I was trying to get a nap inside my sleeping bag.  Two staggeringly drunk police officers approached.  One had his gun out waving it about.  They both seemed to be holding each other up.  What to do in a situation like that?  You are kind of stuck in the bag.  If you try to get out you may attract attention.  If you stay in, you are almost completely helpless.  The moments drug by very slowly until the cops finally staggered by.

The lesson never ever to joke with border guards was given.  The border control guy said "Do you have any guns, drugs, pornographic materials, explosives... (etc)?"  At the end of his long list, I winked and said "What do you need?"   That was the first time I ever had a full cavity search.  The man with the rubber glove was not surprisingly gentle and the word 'lube' was not in his vocabulary.  After that a meek 'No sir' sufficed.

It was during this time, both Roy and I began to get very irritated with Hunter.  He was anal.  Really.  It was the little things he was doing during this couple month (?) that were really getting on our nerves but we'd not yet come to the conclusion we had to kill him.  That was still in the future.

Eventually, we made our way from the gloom of the USSR into the light of Greece.  Next time, Athens!


Interesting fact:  Every Saturday, the current president gets on TV and tells everyone what his upcoming agenda for the following week is.  This is probably a CYOA because the opposition parties may spread lies about him otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. When you mentioned block parties, I was wondering if you were going to link to this.

    And all the kids named Logan... I feel there's a Logan's Run joke in there.



{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

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{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster | Thailand: Bangkok | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2018}} Ukraine: Kiev - Chernihiv - Uzhhorod

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