Day 8: Goodbye Quito, Hello Mindo!
Today we left the busy city life of Quito to enjoy some nature down in Mindo! We left bright and early and embarked on a very windy descent down the mountains into the cloud forest. As we dropped lower and lower in elevation, we saw the emergence of more tropical vegetation such as trees with wider leaves, colorful flowers, and even a couple banana trees. For myself it became noticeable easier to breath in the absence of altitude and city smog, though the increased humidity brought back everyone’s favorite pest: mosquitoes! As I write this I am drenched in Off Deep Woods spray, which is helping a little bit I guess.
On our way to Mindo, we stopped in Tulipe, an archaeological site once inhabited by the Yumbo people until they displaced by the eruption of Cotapaxi around the 1600s. We had a fascinating tour of the ruins and learned a lot about the Yumbo people (as their culture is currently interpreted by archaeologists). The most significant findings at this site are large baths built from stone in distinctly geometric shapes. Some shapes are thought to be influenced by the shapes of the different moon phases, while a couple might be inspired by the shape of a jaguar. The bath shown below is the most recent find, discovered only in 2004, and is thought to be inspired by the shape of the sun.
We arrived mid-afternoon at the award-winning El Septimo Paraiso, situated on a vast ecological reserve home to over 300 unique species! The hotel is reminiscent of a tree house (well, tree-complex) in the middle of a jungle. The sounds are absolutely incredible, ranging from the pitter-patter of frequent rainfall to the frogs chirping at night. Upon arrival, we were treated to an absolutely fantastic meal of rice and beans (for vegetarians such as myself), fish for the meat-eaters, fresh vegetables, crispy fried plantains, soft homemade bread, and a variety of fresh juices. I tried some coconut juice, and might have been the only one who enjoyed the chunky texture.
Next we had some free time, which I spent hanging out by the hummingbird feeders. I tried to keep track of all the different kinds of hummingbirds I saw…and lost count after six.
Dinner was served by the hotel owner herself, and consisted of a vegan barley soup, fresh and steamed vegetables (oh how I missed broccoli), a quinoa dish for the vegetarians, chicken and potatoes for the meat-eaters, more of that yummy homemade bread, and of course juice! This time I tried guava juice. It did not disappoint!
Whew! What a day! Right now half the group is out on a night hike. I’ll be going on one tomorrow! So tune in tomorrow to hear more about the cloud forest at night, and a couple other adventures we’ll be so lucky to experience during our short stay in Mindo!