It turns out my travel tip from yesterday was merely a stroke of luck. When I went back to Luna Runtun this morning to retrieve my shoes, have a swim, and get a pedicure, they told me I would have to buy a package for $100 in order to use the pools. Nah.
So, instead of swimming, I decided to hike down the mountain and take in the views of the volcano and surrounding mountains. It was a 6km hike, but it was beautiful. After, I headed to El Refugio to go on the walk I didn't have time for the other day. The walk wasn't just a walk through the garden, it was meant to be a reflective walk (sin zapatos - without shoes) with many signs along the way featuring meaningful quotes in Spanish that I tried my best to decipher. Even without being able to fully understand the signs, I found the walk to be very relaxing.
For lunch, I headed back to the trusty Casa Hood. I was happy to recognize two other couples that were also there for lunch yesterday. It reassured me that I am not actually that bad at traveling, and it is a totally normal thing to eat all of your meals at the same restuarant. Also, it was delicious.
After lunch, I meant to go swimming at the hot springs, but I got distracted shopping for gifts for people, and didn't make it to the pools until 2:30, and by that time they were filthy. I am not a fan of dirty swimming water, so I took a photo, and instead climbed up to the nearby waterfall.
By the time I got back to the hostel, I was exhausted and needed some downtime. After writing a couple postcards, I made plans with my roommate to head to Stray Dog for draft beer. The draft part is important. I have only found draft beer twice, both times in bars owned by people who were clearly not from Ecuador.
At Stray Dog, I made friends with another girl who is traveling alone (never did find out her name...), and with the bartender from North Carolina (Glen). We decided that after the bar closed at midnight, we would go see the volcano erupt. The taxi driver suggested a lookout that I hadn't been to, but once we got there, we realized we wouldn't be able to see because of the clouds. Determined, we headed to a different lookout. Again, no luck. By this point, however, we really, really wanted to see lava, so the driver took us up the side of the actual volcano, almost off roading, at 2am, and we parked only hundreds of feet from the top of the volcano. We sat on the hood of the taxi, staring at the dark outline of the volcano and waited. Ten minutes later, the donkeys began howling (I kid you not), the ground shook, and out came the lava. I felt like a ten year old at a science fair. After all of that hard work, red filled the sky.