The intention had been to leave for Mindo on the early bus (decided at the flip of a coin) on Friday, but, well, my stomach had already had too much of a say in it and instead Friday morning was spent doing very little indeed! Reading, lying down in the TV room under a blanket, boiling some water and letting it cool so I had plenty of drinking water, waiting for the taxi.
As previously mentioned, Quito’s traffic is busy at the best of times, so why we were comfortable with the hostel owner’s suggestion of getting a taxi to the bus station just an hour before the last bus goes I’m now not sure…! However, this is what we did, but neither Fabien nor I were flustered in the least when we got there with 4 minutes to spare. No raised heartbeats, not a stressed word! I thought of a certain girl from Coventry who would’ve been there hours before! 🙂
Two and a half hours, $2.50 and a crossing into the northern hemisphere later, bags sensibly kept on laps the whole way, we arrived in the semi-dark in rainy grey Mindo. It was warm rain though, and the air smelled really fresh. A few questions of the locals were needed (no street signs) to find the hostel, where Fabien was handed a ‘flashpacker’ moment: we’d both booked dorm beds but because it was only girls in the dorm, the manager insisted he had to be upgraded to a private room for free! But I was glad to be in the dorm with two lovely sisters from Canada, and a girl from Chicago.
Saturday morning brought a lovely fresh breakfast and sunshine, and I decided to take a gentle walk to some waterfalls, after buying some fruit in the town and paying $8 (!!) to get 6km up the hill to the entrance… accessed by way of a cable car high above the cloud forest:
It got more humid as the day went on, and it smelled and felt exactly like it does in the replica environments in places like Kew and the Eden Project, like damp leaves and earth. I took it really slowly knowing I’m not at full strength, and met some more friendly people along the way!
I saw dragonflies, a huge blue butterfly and loads of smaller butterflies of all shapes and colours, a few little birds, and a large brown and yellow hummingbird which just appeared about a meter in front of me and hovered before dashing to a flower to find some nectar!
I took a cheaper option back down the hill, on a Chiva Bus:
Then I went with the girls to a ‘frog chorus’, at Lago Mindo. In the dark and the warm rain I saw fireflies, tiny tiny frogs 1cm long, lots of small frogs in the pond, puffing out their chins, a stick insect, a cricket, a grillo de la noche, and some spiders bigger than I care to remember! It was essentially a walk in the woods, in the dark… Now, picture a few of us standing round with a guy shining a torch on two large sticks on the ground, for 5 minutes. ‘What are we looking at?’ ‘Well, it’s two sticks.’ ‘In their natural habitat!’ ‘To show the diversity of nature in the area!’ Then the torch goes out. Oh! The sticks are now glowing with the bacteria inside them which reacts to light, only in decomposing wood. Random!
There were a few more lovely people in Mindo whom I’d met before too, so it was really nice and relaxing, a good place to try to feel better.
Six of us had some entertaining conversations on the bus back to Quito, which seemed to go really slow in a queue of tail lights. A guy got on the bus with a white rabbit on his shoulder, with a flower in its ear!?
A hair-raising taxi ride took me back to the same hostel. And having got into bed already, I had a really great surprise when Fabien and Ruth came back to my hostel to have a drink there, great night guys, after a great weekend, thank you!! 😀
Next stop: Galápagos!!!