Sunday, May 9, 2010

More Mindo

Rio Mindo

Mindo is reputed to be a birding mecca, and so I was hoping to see many many birds. The alarm rang at 5:30 AM and I rushed everyone out the door. The skies were just starting to lighten, and the birds were singing enthusiastically. However, without a guide, we saw very little. The birds were near, they were busy and active, but without knowing where to look and how to find them (and my inlaws had borrowed my binoculars for their trip to the Galapagos) we saw very few (several parrots, a beautiful toucan, and some hummingbirds). The hike was lovely though. We climbed up a dirt road past the zipline establishment, with the valley to our left and the Rio Mindo rushing below. There was a turnoff to the right to the 'tarabita', which is the cable car across the Nambillo river to waterfalls and further hiking, but I had planned a loop, and Maya was getting very hungry, so we took a very steep path down the mountain. Leo had given me instructions and a crudely sketched map (not to scale at all!) and had encouraged me with reassurances that all the paths were well indicated and that signs were everywhere. Emily later told me that she thought that Leo was not at all confident about us going on our own, that I was the insistent one. In truth, I had no idea where I was going, and was surprised to hear Maya telling Emily that 'Mummy always knows'. I made wild guesses at every turn, and tried to keep spirits up, especially when we came to a precipice and found a knotted rope to hold on to as we rappelled down the small cliff. We used ropes several times, which told me that this was a known path and had been used before. In retrospect, it was not a safe choice, but we made it to the bottom and our next obstacle.

A raging river stood in our way; not to wide, but full of water moving swiftly over huge boulders and not possible to cross by foot. I had seen a footbridge from above, but instead we encountered a two person cable car. I crossed first and discovered that I could pull myself across. Maya came next, but when Emily came across, she got stuck and Maya and I had to figure out how to get the rope onto the pulley. I was thankful that I did not lose a finger. Once across, we were all more eager to get breakfast. There was a 'Mariposaria' to see, but the vote was to go on, which was still a long hike back to Casa Bambu.

Casa Bambu

No one wanted to move after breakfast (it was after 10!) al fresco, so it was only after some more pingpong (the game had been stopped last night when the ball disappeared in the bushes, but was found this morning), that we took the shortcut to town (we could see this time and found the suspension bridge across the river, so much easier) to visit a collection of hummingbirds, butterflies and orchids. Since we could not see them on our walk, we had to be satisfied with hummingbird feeders and butterfly and orchid cultivation.

Washing the Car

We wandered through the very small town again, and returned to Casa Bambu to meet Eric. The plan had been for him to join us for a visit to Tulipe (Yumbo archeological site), which was on the way home, and interesting for Emily and Maya to see (Eric and visited some weeks ago), but we had to visit El Quetzal for lunch (capuccino and coffee icecream too!) and by the time be arrived at Tulipe a little after 4, the facility was just closing! We took the spectacular drive home through the cloudforest, arriving just in time to meet our inlaws and their friends at 'La Ronda' for an evening of Ecuadorian specialties. The restaurant also has a stage with folkloric dancing, but we were in a private room and missed the performance (there was little enthusiasm for it anyway). The group had a wonderful week in the Galapagos on the 'Millenium' and raved about their encounters with penguins and sea lions and sharks. They are in Quito for a day before they travel to the rainforest for several days at Sacha Lodge. I wish I could take Emily to the jungle, but with only a couple more days until her flight, we chose to travel to Papallacta tomorrow for a hike in the paramo and a soak in the hot springs.


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  2. Nice pics!
    I love Ecuador!
    The last 2 years I the same Galapagos incentives tours and both times I loved it! I connect with the nature, and relax my self