We left this morning for Shell. There was some doubt that we would be able to continue on the original schedule as it seemed the thieves who broke into the van the night before had stolen the vehicle registration and we couldn’t drive without it. Fortunately, someone found the vehicle registration along with some of the other stolen items in the church yard earlier that morning. The thieves threw it over the wall when they realized they had no use for the stuff.
We made a few stops on the way to Shell. First, we stopped at a MegaMaxi in Ambato. MegaMaxi is pretty much the same as Super Store and was located within a shopping mall containing most of the same things you’d find at a mall in North America. We had lunch in the food court while the Howard’s did a big grocery shop to ensure we’d be well fed the second week of the trip.
Our next stop was El Pailón del Diablo, a raging waterfall located outside of Baños. We drove through Baños during a holiday weekend and found it closely resembled Banff on Canada Day. The streets bustled with tourists and we passed by a number of candy shops.
El Pailón del Diablo was an incredible experience. My heart still pounds a little when I think of it. Matt and Kerri-Lynn had been before and said that they had never seen the water pour down so strongly. The goal was to take the path, requiring you to crawl through half hollowed out caves and pull yourself up through wet, rocky crevices, and end up directly behind the waterfall. The water surged and sprayed into the caves, causing tinges of panic, slippery rocks, and the desire to charge on to get to a point where you could at least stand up-right. Some of the teens eagerly charged ahead and, upon looking back at us, couldn’t hear Kerri-Lynn’s cries to “be careful!” and replied with “What? Keep Going? Okay!” Fortunately, all team members returned safely. My legs were shaky afterwards and nearly everyone was able to ring water out of their clothing. After draping sheets and towels over the seats of the van we continued onto Shell, our base for the next few days.