I've had a TON of homework this week...but finally: MINDO! Mindo is a rainforest/cloud forest about two hours by bus away from Quito, which made it an easy weekend trip. We got there Friday night and were immediately in awe: mountains covered in jungle on all sides, and the clouds were so low that they covered half of the mountains. Mindo is a tiny, sleepy little town with one main street and a plaza and lots of little hostels on the streets leading away from town. It was getting dark when we got there, so we wandered around trying to find our hotel...easier said than done, but we finally found El Descanso tucked into a little corner a couple blocks away from town. Our hotel owner, Rodney, was PRECIOUS (he gets a precious heart!) and has the cutest 6-year old boy named Ismael, and they came upstairs just to say goodnight to us. Awww.
Saturday morning we got woken up REAL early by a rooster (I was not happy). After we ate breakfast and watched the hummingbirds in the hotel garden, Rodney drew us a map to the waterfalls and the canopy tour and we headed out of town on foot. It was a 2km walk to the canopy tour, which was 10 different ziplines across the jungle. It was kind of terrifying but pretty cool...the view was BEAUTIFUL. Afterwards we walked another 3km uphill to the waterfalls. We had to ride this cable car thing way up in the air across a valley, and it was awesome! Then we decided to hike to Cascada Reina, only to get 25 minutes into the hike and realize the we chose the wrong one (we wanted one that was closer). So, we had to turn around...it was an intense hike, too: the path was literally only a couple feet wide and there was an immediate dropoff down the steep hill into the forest. Talk about scary. We finally got back to our starting point and found the other trail, and ended up getting to another waterfall in another 25 minutes or so. It was beautiful...you can go swimming and jumping off cliffs. Imagine: we were swimming (well, wading...it got really cold) by a waterfall, on a mountain, in a rainforest, and then it started raining...it was so so cool.
The hike and walk back to town was a long one...we walked 6 and a half miles, not including how far we hiked! We were exhausted! We had batidos (smoothies) and ice cream at this awesome little outdoors hut that had SWINGS for seats. It was awesome. After that, and eating at a nearby restaurant, and then spending an hour walking around the tiny market and buying jewelry (I had an awesome conversation about jewelry making with one of the guys there!) we headed straight back to the hotel, showered, and wrote postcards until we fell asleep.
Sunday morning (after getting woken up by roosters again) we walked about 3km to the butterfly sanctuary. We should've only walked 2km, but we misread the directions. That was kind of the theme of the trip..."Ok, we just went the wrong way. AGAIN." It was cool, but not really worth the long walk. However, on the way back to town, we stopped by the river and waded and relaxed for a while, which was wonderful. Then, we caught the bus back to Quito, exhausted but thrilled with the weekend.
Here are some pictures from Mindo...I took lots of videos too, but I'll put all those on another post. Enjoy!
Hummingbirds in the garden outside of our hotel.
Getting ready for the canopy tour!
FINALLY, A WATERFALL!
LOOK HOW BIG THAT LEAF IS!!
Another view of the jungle.
The butterfly sanctuary!
Getting ready to catch the bus back to Quito.