Published: May 28th 2012May 18th 2012
May 16 to May 19th:
Woke up, checked email, and saw no word from Kevin (as you know from previous blog post). Had an interesting and eventful morning in Quito. Had a great breakfast included in the cost of the hostel (pancakes, fruit, eggs, tea, passionfruit juice), but was then taken to the wrong museum in the morning. Turns out the national museum of Ecuador, and the exceedingly dull national Bank of Ecuador museum have very similar names. Didn't have time to go to the other museum, but decided to walk through the old town to the tallest church in Ecuador, where you can climb up to the top of the bell tower.
On the way, I narrowly avoided falling victim to one of the classic travel scams... Someone throws a foul smelling liquid on you, and an accomplice is helpfully on hand with kleenex. Here, let me help clean you off, and why don't I just pickpocket you while you are distracted here, aren't I nice. The bad news is they decided to use watered down dog poop.
The good news is I had on a hat and rain jacket, and I remembered hearing about the scam, so I snatched a couple kleenex out of the guy's hand, and ran a block or two away before cleaning off in a restaurant bathroom. Coat was easily washed, but the nice new panama hat was sadly ruined, so I had to buy another one. Like the new one even better, though, so life evens out. Then I went to the church, and climbed to almost the very the top of the clocktower. Very beautiful church, with grotesques and gargoyles that looked like native animals such as jaguars and armadillos instead on the european demonic types. Great view of the city.
Back to the hostel, grabbed my bag, and headed to the bus station. Almost missed it due to another incompetent taxi driver, but leaped onto the bus JUST as it was about to pull out of the station, and made it alright. The bus is delayed for an hour due to a landslide blocking the road, so by this point I'm a little pissed off, between missing the museum, getting almost robbed, losing my hat, cousin issues, etc...
Then I get to Mindo, and it's a little rain drenched mountain town surrounded by hills and cloudforest, with cicadas at night and the sound of birds by day. (One of the most biodiverse areas in the world for bird life.) The kind of place that is always the right temperature, and the air is thick with the smell of forests and petrichor, and the breakfast orange juice is from a tree I can see while I'm drinking it.
Mindo is the kind of place where you open your hostel window in the morning, wanting to still feel grumpy, and there's a chirpy, happy little blue feathered bird right outside your window, and your brain just sort of stutters and says, "oh, look, it's the freakin' Bluebird of Happiness. Point taken universe. You don't totally hate me." And then I went to an orchid garden with attached butterfly farm, and sat in their hammocks gawping at hummingbird feeders filled more than ten species and up to a dozen birds at a time, for an hour or two.
And then had woodfired pizza and went on a chocolate making tour complete with free samples and probably one of the best brownies in the world, made from chocolate from the same building.
Finished the day off on a guided night walk through the cloudforests to hear the choruses of frogs and see ethereally bioluminescent tree-trunks ( from bacteria in growing in the wood) and the entrancing dance of fireflies amidst the trees.
Basically had a thoroughly, gloriously wonderful day, on my own, doing this at my own pace, and exactly what I wanted to do. Still wondering about Kevin, but decided to relax, play with the hostel's lovely schnauzer, (missing my own schnauzer back home more than a bit, and head back to Quito the next day.
After a nice walk the next morning and some more pizza (hey, it was cheap and tasty!) I did exactly that.
Another landslide blocked the road, but it was less of a wait this time, and by the time I got to the hostel (after stopping by a hat shop, to, as I said, replace my panama hat) it was near dinner time, and you know basically the rest of my Ecuador adventure.