Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mindo, the Cloud Forest!

I haven't had a travel post in a while, so here it is. My friend Andrew and I went to Mindo a couple weekends ago, and it was the bomb-dot-com. First off, the bus ride there was, shall we say, unique. The bus was full when we got to the station so we sad on the floor in the aisle between the seats... it was one of those moments where I knew I could appreciate the youthful experience at the time but wasn't sure if I'd be doing this at 40. Luckily some people got off so we did end up with seats for most of the ride. 

So, without further ado, we arrived in Mindo. All I can say to sum up the place is: beautiful, tropical, friendly people, tranquil. Mindo is in the cloud forest and at a lower elevation than Quito. It's got a cute little river running through it, which was refreshingly familiar to Upstate NY. The first thing we did upon getting there was get settled at this cute hostel on the river with a nice host named Henry, who had worked for a time in London in fancy shmancy hotels and the like. Then we checked out the chocolate factory, El Quetzel, and had a brownie and some ice cream. We didn't end up getting to do the factory tour, alas, but maybe some time in the future. 

Andrew Crosses the River to Retrieve the Forgotten Sunscreen

The next adventure was ziplining! We walked pretty far up this hill and then fortunately caught a shuttle the rest of the way up. Hilariously, there were two stoic cows at the entrance of the ziplining that were just staring us down, as pictured. 

Judging Cows

Alright, so there were 13 ziplines that crossed 2 valleys and varied in speeds. Overall, super fun. But nothing topped the last line I did wherein the zipline guide went with me and flipped me upside down (still safely strapped in), so I flew across the valley mariposoa(butterfly) style. 

The town in general had a great vibe -- really laid back with very friendly people. We saw two boys on the road trying to fix a bike, and we did our best to help them out but the chain was too big. They were super cute and said "Have a long life!" or something like that to us when we left.

At night we went to a fun bar/club with some good salsa dancing. Andrew and I worked on our moves amidst the crowd of other dancers, and I think we did respectably. We looked for another place to go out, but all we found was a Quincinera that was blasting techno music. At first we thought it was the lamest club in the world, but the 15 year olds in dresses kinda gave it away. The next day, we heard a couple Americans saying they mistakenly went in there to party and were awkwardly rocking out amidst the family/friends of the birthday girl = so funny. 

The next morning we had a 6 am bird watching tour planned, and in classic fashion we woke up an hour late but we still got to go with Irman, our guide. At first, things were a bit dull BUT THEN we started seeing the toucans  There are 4 species of toucan native to Mindo and we saw... wait for it... all four. Boo ya. We got to look through a sweet bird telescope to see them up close. Overall, I'm not sure I have the patience to be a bird enthusiast, but this was pretty cool. 

Toucan Action

Afterward, we went tubing on the river, which really mean bumping around in big black inner tubes, scooting over rocks and avoiding branches. But it was a good time, and a short little excursion. 

It was an adventure filled weekend, and we had a nice ride back to Quito. I really loved Mindo because of the great community feel and the beauty and tropical forest feel. Highly recommended if anyone ever gets to Ecuador.  

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