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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

SOAKIN' ON SUNDAY

BANOS, ECUADOR

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

“Are you Catholic or Vegetarian?” he asked me. Unprepared for the question, I knew the “right” answer since we were in central Ecuador. “Catolica” I responded and smiled. That particular combination of options had never been given to me before, but since I had eaten the ham on my Hawaiian pizza the night before, I figured I was closer to Catholic than Vegetarian.

My amigo clutched his chest fully and emotionally with his right hand. “Bueno,” he said with a sigh of relief. I figured I just saved him from his responsibility of converting me. We both felt relieved.

DISCUSSING BUSINESS

The time to come to La Piscina de La Virgen in Banos, Ecuador is early on a weekend morning to experience the baths. We were told that this was when local Ecuadorian families came and used them, and we could see first hand how the villagers lived. Besides, the water from the underground sources would be cleaner and hotter at this time.

Well, it was Sunday morning and it was early, so we paid the nominal $1 entrance fee, and were greeted warmly by several uniformed folks who were obviously running the place. They were quite happy and proud that we had come to visit this remarkable feat of nature.

Directing us as to how to protect our clothing from getting wet, they told us we needed to shower before entering any of the pools. The one on the far end was the hottest, the one in the middle less hot, and the last one, over there, was a regular pool. All the rules were posted downstairs at the entrance, the second most notable one being that we were not to spit in the pools (!)

Looking around, we saw that the Cascada de Ulba was right behind the hottest pool, dropping from a sheer 1,000 feet. We had climbed to the top yesterday, and had seen the baths from above. Some icy water from the Cascada was directed to the Baths below offering a cold option for rinsing after having been poached in the hotter tubs.

CASCADA DE ULBA, 1,000 FOOT WATERFALL

It was still early, but already the place had 100 people; well behaved children, and plenty of adults. We were the only non Ecuadorians there, and we were a curiosity. That is why this man, my new friend in the Baths, was talking with me.

“Cuantos ninos tiene?” he asked intently. Oh, jeeze. I thought I had already dodged my bullet for the morning, but of course, here comes the most frequently asked question in all of Latin America. “Two. One girl, and one boy,” I lied. Any of you who have had experience in Spanish speaking countries know that having children is as important to Latin Americans as being saved from the fires of hell.

 

Over the years Billy and I have experimented with several responses to this question.  Sometimes we tease and say we worked so hard that we had no time to make children. Women smile amusedly and men roar with laughter. Sometimes we're honest and say that we don’t have any, or take a different tack.  This causes so much pain however, as seen in their eyes, and we receive so much pity in response, that we have found it is much more humane to fib.

My new best friend goes into a long explanation of his five children, 4 boys, 1 girl, the second oldest son having died in a tragic accident. One is an engineer, (of which he is very proud) and the daughter married an American and now lives in Tampa, Florida with her baby. This is also a great source of self respect. All the while we are soaking in these natural hot baths overlooking the spectacular Andean scenery.

SPECTACULAR ANDEAN SCENERY AT THE BATHS

Meanwhile over at the side of the pool, one of the guards, a Gordita, motions to Billy that he should try the natural cold shower coming out of the mountainside. Everyone turns to look at Billy. It’s the custom, you see. First the hot pool, then the cold rinse, and then back into the pool. Peer pressure is intense, so Billy advances towards the cold showers.  When he gets close to the amiga gordita, he teases and says he wants to shower with her under the cold water. She laughs uproariously, as well as everyone else within earshot.

THE ICY COLD RINSE FROM THE FALLS OVERHEAD

Under the freezing cold downpour he goes, making a lot of racket and acting like he just can’t take it. It's a really fun show with splashing and making screaming noises. Then it’s my turn. Everyone encourages, and I think, "how am I going to get out of this?"  I pretty much do the same, except I try to escape early. No good. I have to be thoroughly drenched from head to toe in this crystal cold water. After the shock, it really does feel fabulous.

 

Back and forth we go, cold splash and hot soaking. After an hour or so of simmering with the locals, we look like lobsters. We decide to call it quits for the morning and say goodbye to all our new friends, get dressed, and wave so long. As we descend the stairs to get to the street side, we notice that several buses were unloading people who want to spend the day here at these famous baths. The advice we received was right! Get there early, and have the place to yourselves.  It's worth it.

The baths are open daily, 4:30am - 5pm, and the downstairs baths open from 6-10 pm.  Bring your own towel, as none are provided.

Ecuador Hotel and Travel Information

About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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