baños | ecuador
After 14 years of quietly sitting dormant nearby, the volcano, Tungurahua, erupted a couple days before I arrived, dusting the entire town in a light coat of ash. Restaurants shuttered their windows and closed outdoor seating areas to keep their food (and patrons) ash free. Volcanic equivalents of aftershock tremors - rumbling, sporadic gun-shot popping and small earthquakes persisted throughout my stay. Casa Del Arbol was a short journey out of town. Deemed "The Swing at the End of the World", it was just that: a swing with no harness, hanging from a rickety tree house carrying you out over the side of a mountain with a cinematic view of the nearby active volcano. In town, highlights included Church of the Virgin of the Holy Water (Nuestra Señora del Agua Santa) and shopfronts filled with raw sugar cane taffy (Melcocha), a local specialty, being pulled and beaten against door frames to perfect its texture and elasticity.