Our trip to Mindo started out with a 2 hour bus ride up and down the hills and around the curves at top speed, I have never liked roller coasters, but now think I am ready to tackle Cedar Point. We stayed at a cabin type hostel, Casa La Cecelia. Our first room offered was small without a bathroom, the shared bathroom had a concrete floor and a single hanging light bulb, I though it was fine, Janet had us move rooms to cabin with a porch, hammock and a private bathroom, $5 more per night, there goes the budget!! No TV's this time.
Frank on the Bus and the bus station in Quito above and our hostel and arrival in town below
Mindo was a refreshing, no stress, small town. It is located in a cloud forest with hiking that allowed us our first views of 5 waterfalls.
After a good night sleep, we headed out to tackle the waterfalls and the mountains. You need to taxi transport to the launch point. The taxi charges $6, no matter how many people ride. Our impromptu little group from Casa La Cecelia all crowded into a pickup truck bed and off we went. As I think of our group, I am reminded of what was best of Mindo. Here we renewed acquaintances with our UK friends from Quito. We joked as I told them my eyes started blinking and there they were. We also met an Arizona couple and solo travelers from California, Chile, Germany, Canada, and a kind of perennial traveler (or pot provider) also from Canada. Interestingly most of the solos were young woman seeking adventure. Our conversations with all of them were really friendly and cheerful.
Off the truck to the to the zip-line open cart that fits 4. ZZZZip---across a wide ravine to a platform---jump off, find the marked trail, and start the trek up and down. Janet and I are prepared with great hiking boots, hats, and walking poles. I won’t lie, the youngsters sped ahead, -ok-, but we just marched one step at a time up the mountain. We crossed rope bridges and followed our path to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th waterfall. We took many photos to memorialize our “coolness”. At the 4th stop our group was congregating for a long while; all sitting on large boulders and a massive fallen tree that crossed the river. Most of the group decided to stop here to avoid the inevitable drenching you would get trying to maintain your balance and cross the river on the submerged rocks to reach the pathway to the 5th waterfall. Only the Arizona couple that had already gone swimming took off for the last waterfall; the others left to go back. We loitered for a while, enjoying #4, standing on the tree trunk and then the big rocks where I probed the shore line and submerged rocks with my hiking pole. Janet and I used our poles to keep balance and tippy toed on the tips of the rocks, contorting our bodies and tightening our cores to balance on the rocks. “Kerplunk”-- No, we got wet anyway, but not until the last few steps when we got too excited and too impatient. The 5th fall was not as inspiring as the 4th, but the challenge was accomplished—great! The return made us feel more fantastic about our stamina and training (for me also having inhalers). We again jointly acknowledged our trainers at our home town recreation center who pushed us so hard and also were glad we hiked the “Smokies” with our friends from home before our trip for the warm up (break in those boots).
ZZZZipp—headed back to Casa La Cecelia. We shared a panel truck with 3 young men from Slovak. Janet sat in the cab, but I sat in the truck bed with these guys who were very friendly and spoke English well too. They were pleased that Janet and I may be traveling to their country (probably not) and offered some tips.
We returned to our lovely cabin bungalow, relaxing on the patio, listening to the running Mindo river. I jumped into the hammock and breathed in the fresh air. It is nice to be away from the roads and all the exhaust fumes. We did kick on the computer and our portable UE speaker to listen to our large music library. We have been doing that a lot now, listening to music or using this speaker for good sound when watching Netflix.
Now it was dinner time in little downtown Mindo.
We have been splitting meals and are fine. This night we ordered “Churaccas”. Reading the description, we thought we were just getting soup with meat—once finished we were full--, but that was a 1st course. The waitress brings 2 giant plates of beans, rice, fish, and veggie relish. Our eyes widened and we started to chuckle. Thankfully, the waitress had doggy boxes.
On Wednesday we decompressed. The day started lazy. We then went for another hike to the “Mariposa”—a butterfly house. This was a sophisticated place with a motel. We like butterflies— but the most fun was conversing with the lovely proprietor, clearly educated, a woman who spoke impeccable English—which we found was hard to find in Quito and Mindo.
We talked a little world politics, about her tourist industry, and about the oil industry that permeates the culture and brings so much money into the country, except that now oil prices are done.
Walking home, we were treated to seeing cabelleros riding these beautiful stallions passed us as we walked the road; one displayed special trotting steps, the other was at full gallop—very impressive.
We finished our final day with a bite to eat at a Mindo diner that bit the big one. I mean when the proprietor fails to bring you the beer that you craved, nor brings the fruit drink with the meal for Janet, nor the bottled water you ordered—you have an unsatisfying dining experience. This was so unusual that it stuck in our minds. We wanted to leave and Janet asked for a takeout cup. Instead she received a knotted plastic bag. Funny, but sad!
Back to the bungalow to pack for Banos. It gets really dark, very early, in Ecuador, so we wore our head lamps. Glad I actually used it so as not to complain about the added weight.