Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Mindo: Our Last Day in Ecuador

On our last full day in Ecuador. We took the 25 cent bus to the Secret Garden Hostel which has special prices with approved taxis for a private tour to Mindo.  The town of Mindo is a couple hours north of Quito and in a cloud forest. The countryside was very very lush and green.

Closer to Mindo, the road became very snakelike as we drove up and down through the valleys for the last hour.

Our taxi driver/guide, Hugo spoke some English and was really good. His day rate was $100 US.

Once we got to the tourist office in Mindo, they asked what we wanted to do. We chose the butterfly & hummingbird centre, waterfalls and orchid gardens. John asked me if I wanted to do zip lining. I guess I was taking too long to think about it so he went ahead and bought tickets for that as well. We paid all our entrance fees on top of the taxi. Once in Mindo we also paid for one of their 4x4 pick-up trucks to take us between sites as the roads are too rough for the taxi. Entrance fees and the pick-up truck came out to $48 US each.

Our first stop was the butterfly and hummingbird centre. Lush green vegetation, flowers and the air filled with colourful, gorgeous butterflies. The big blue ones were my favourite.

In the gardens, many blue and green, iridescent hummingbirds glimmered in the sun as they ate at the feeders. We could hear their wings vibrate like little motors.

Next was the zip-line. I was very nervous when we got to the zip-lines. I do not do heights well. It was like they read my mind when they asked me if I wanted to go to the bathroom before being harnessed up. 

Three guys came with us. They were real hams, joking around. Two of them went first and waited for us on the other side. 

I was not thinking kindly thoughts towards John as we stood on the first platform. I turned on the video mode of my phone, crossed my legs and leaned back as they instructed. It sure was high above the forest canopy. Then I forgot about everything except screaming and dropping a few four letter words as I was pushed out into space. I was relieved when I landed in one piece on the other side - I had done it! 

John says the valley was echoing with the sounds of me swearing as I soared across.

When John landed, he told me that we had nine more zip lines to do. Yikes!!! I thought there was only one.

The last guy followed John and we were onto the next.

One of the guys followed and videotaped me. That time I did land properly and slid backwards, running into the videotaping guy behind me and we dangled over the abyss. It took all three of the guys to pull us back in. It seems like this has happened before.

I was much calmer for the remaining ones, only having my nerves spike when they attached John and I together.

At one point they asked me if I liked surprises. I said yes thinking that there was some gorgeous scenery after the next one. Nope, the surprise was that they moved the wires so that I bounced up and down that whole stretch of the zip line. Much screaming ensued. In my defence, John was yelping a bit when they bounced him. They guys were all chuckling during the bouncing incident.

They say you should do something that scares you every day. This was my thing. It wasn’t so bad but I won’t be doing it on a daily basis

From the zip-line it was a 5 km drive to the waterfalls. To access the waterfalls you take a tarabita basically a basket hanging from a cable that is strung across the valley below. Once on the other side there are trails to take you to the falls which are really more a set of rapids. We enjoyed the walk through the  humid cloud forest but our trail was a fairly steep hike down and then back up again. 

After the falls we had lunch and then to the orchid garden. A guide showed us the many orchids on display- some of the flowers are so small you need a magnifying glass to see them. The garden also had a hummingbird feeder area where we watched again these amazing little birds buzzing around us like flies. 

By now it was 5pm and time to head back to Quito.  We had a close-up view of the clouds as the mist descended into the valley as we drove out of the Mindo area.

We spent the evening packing (yuck), checking in for our flights and finishing off the Malbec.

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