First Cup of Coffee
Our first cup of coffee (with raw milk) in Mindo
18-19 July: Quito to Mindo, Day 1 & 2:
Well, after our flight fiasco, we finally made the flights from Pensacola to Quito, arriving around 10pm. We had no problems along the way, except for a long delay in getting the in-flight movie to work. We did finally get to watch Hunger Games, which was great. Customs was a breeze, but we kept getting quotes of $5 from taxis to take us the 2 or 3 blocks to our hostel. We ended up walking a bit outside the airport and found a guy that took us for $2.50. The hostel was rather run down with very few amenities, but I chalk that up to being very new, so still in the process of rennovating. It was after 10pm when we got to the place, so there we few if any options for food or drink. I ended up paying the hostel clerk to go a few doors up to a bar and talk them into giving him a bottle of gatorade and water for 2 bucks. Hostal Puerto Aereo was definitely not a jewel, even at the low price we paid, but I couldn't blame myself since I didn't pick
Restaurante Las Cascadas de Mindo
The restaurant where we had our first coffee,.
it, the church's missionary did.
After a rather fitful night's sleep, we got up, packed up, and opted to pay the 10 dollares for a taxi to the Terminal Norte bus station for our trip to Mindo. We probably could have spent only a dollar or two to take a bus, but with little idea of where to get one and the hassle of luggage, we opted for the taxi. The driver was a very sociable guy who dropped us off right in front of the ticket booth for our bus. After buying two tickets for the Flor de Valle bus to Mindo at 8am. we sat around until it showed, boarded, and were on our way. We ended up talking with a nice guy named Tim, a teacher from Germany on his summer vacation. It turned out that not only was he also going to Mindo, but was staying in the same hostel as we were, Hostal El Descanso! Small world, considering that there are quite a few hostels in Mindo.
After about a two hour ride thru some neat mountain scenery, with very twisted up and down roads, we got to Mindo. Not all that much
to look at, since it was one long street about a mile long, and 8 or 10 sides streets. We got off the bus together and had already decided the first order of business was our morning cup of coffee since we'd been unable to get one before. Unfortunately, the place we picked for our Coffee with milk, Restaurante Las Cascadas de Mindo, used fresh from the farm milk that was way to natural for our taste. I didn't mind it much, but both Manoli and Tim couldn't take it and drank it mostly straight with no milk. After our coffee, we headed down the side steet to our hostel. Totally awesome! I'd recommend the Hostal El Descanso to anyone. The staff were very friendly and helpful. The place was very clean and well-appointed. The sell inexpensive drinks. The bathrooms (ours is ensuite) are clean and modern. And as if that wasn't enough, the back patio is a bird-watchers' paradise, with dozens of hummingbirds flitting around within a few feet of you, along with several other types of birds. All of this, including breakfast, was only $14 a night!
We settled our stuff in the hostel, checked out the
birds for a while, then went for a walk to explore Mindo. Nice, small, friendly town with plenty of places to eat and sleep. We ended up eating lunch at Caskaffesu. Manoli had a fruit salad and I had a vegetable and pineapple sandwich with a side order of fried plantain. The sandwich wasn't all that good, but the fries and plantain were great. With drinks, I think we spent about 11 dollars. After lunch, we explored some more and located a place called El Quetzal. They make their own chocolate which was delicious, and we found out the give a chocolate tour at 4pm, so we ended up returning for the tour. The tour was very informative and costs 5 dollars each, lasting over an hour, and included some sampling at the end. By this point, it was getting close to time for the frog concert at 6:30pm, so we met up with Tim again, and went in search of the place. It is open most nights, except Tuesday and Sunday, and costs 3.50 a piece. The only problem was it was at Mindo Lago, which is a pretty good hike up the road... probably over a mile. A
Hummingbirds Up Close
One of many photos we took of the hummingbirds on our back patio.,
yound American, recently married to an Ecuadorian girl, was our guide. We'd expected basically to just listen to a bunch of frogs sing, but were pleasantly surprised by a guided tour thru the cloudforst area around the hosteria that lasted over an hour and was actually quite entertaining. We spotted numerous insects, including spiders, poisonous caterpillars, and of course a number of different frogs. Walking back to the road in the semi-darkness wasn't all that great, so I'd suggest bringing a flashlight. When we got back into town, it was after 8pm and we hadn't eaten yet. Manoli decided to buy some fruit and eat it back in the hostal, so Tim and I went together to grab something. We ended up at a pizza place where he had a hawaiian pizza and I had a delicious calzone. I can't remember the name of the place now, but if I remember, I'll provide it later. By the time we got back to the hostel, it was after 9pm, so I ended up writing this blog before getting some sleep.
Tomorrow, we plan on doing the waterfalls hike, visiting a butterfly garden, and hopefully the Mindo Canopy (ziplines) tour. See
Manoli relaxiing in the hammock right outside our room.
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