So we did make it to cuenca without incident, and have established that baños is pretty inaccessibly, but we can definitely get to quito via santo domingo. it looks like im destined never to get to baños.... i can´t believe even my dad went there and i never have! oh well. at least i have been to quilotoa twice already, so i dont mind passing that up this time. we might go to the manglares (mangroves) with my quito people, depending on if natalia can handle some mud and remote traveling :) Otherwise who knows.
So we spent yesterday in salinas, for the sole reason that it had an atm and was on our way. I'd always heard its just a resort town for rich guayaquileños, but the area we stayed in was not too expensive and really chill. Our hostal was cute, and we happened upon a bar on the next block where we ended up spending about 10 hours playing cards with the son and daughter of the chilean owner, and consuming excellent food and drink, and listening to cool music (the chilean girl was delighted that we like lauryn hill... ecuadorians definitely don't have a reputation for eclectic musical tastes...). We've definitely met some great people so far.
For now we are missing the warm weather on the coast, but cuenca is lovely and just as colonial and clean as promised. When we got in at 11 pm last night after another marathon day of buses, the hostal lady even promised it was safe to walk around at night! how novel! we haven't done much so far, today we will probably wander, see some churches, maybe check out the free museum. and cook a dinner for once at our hostal. yum!