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Arrival, Rain and SLEEP

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We arrived in Quito late Tuesday night...last plane in. It was pouring rain but forunately our ride to the hotel was waiting for us in the lobby, and we were whisked away to L´Aubergine Inn Hostal, where we crashed in our simple, clean room.



Posted by jtlande 16:58 Archived in Ecuador Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Dumb Luck

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We decided to head north to Mindo for a few days and leave Quito for later. We had a nice breakfast at the hotel, threw some of our stuff into a locker ´til we get back in a few days for our Galapagos trip, and at noon caught a taxi to catch the bus to Mindo.

Unfortunately we didn´t think to figure out the bus schedule ahead of time, so we bought our $5 ticket and decided to head back to Quito to use up the hours of time we had before our bus left at 4pm. After wandering around the bus station aimlessly, I finally decided to listen to Joanna, who thought one of the zillions of yellow buses might get us back to Quito. She was right - in fact, any one of them would do the trick. Anyhow, back to Quito we went. We wanted to stop by the South American Explorers club to see if our plane tickets for the Galapagos trip had been delivered. We also needed to grab some lunch.

Not knowing where we were nor having a place in mind, we randomly got off the bus at one of the stops and wandered down the street until we spotted a place that looked busy and clean (both good signs, we figured). After trying to order about four different things (each time we asked for one the cashier simply said "no" ¨which seemed to indicate that menu item wasn´t available right then), we settled for their combo lunch. And what a delightful surprise it was! We got ham and cheese sandwiches on scrumptious fresh made bread, a cantaloupe shake drink, a sweet biscuit filled with some mysterious but yummy fruit, and a small bowl of fresh fruit with cream.
Later, when we stopped to look at the guidebook, we discovered that we had accidentally stumbled upon the Lonely Planet writer´s favorite restaurant in all of Quito - Frutería Monserrate. Go figure.

Anyways, we found the SAE clubhouse and checked our mail. No luck - our Galagos info hadn´t yet arrived. But our bellies were full, and we were having a blast wandering around.


Back to the bus station we went...

Posted by jtlande 17:08 Archived in Ecuador Tagged bus Comments (0)

Armed w/his Bible, his Motorcycle & his Thirst for Revenge

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Betcha you never thought me and Joanna would spend our 2.5 hr bus ride to Mindo hanging out with Dolph Lundgren. Neither did we.


We got on the bus to Mindo and were surprised to find it pretty much empty. So we settled into our surprisingly comfortable reclining seats and curtained windows. As we hit the road, we learned that, apparently, no one in Ecuador catches a bus at the bus station. Instead, the bus stops at all sorts of random spots on the road where people hop on the bus. But when we started we were pretty much the only ones on the bus.

We were dozing off when we suddenly this loud voice filled the bus. The folks running the bus had put in a DVD. There was a TV in the front of the bus and loudspeakers throughout the bus. So for the next 2 1/2 hours we watched Dolph Lundgren (dubbed in Spanish of course) kick some biker gang butt in some little town, in his Oscar award winning (hah) Missionary Man.


Enraptured by spanish-dubbed Dolph, the bus ride passed quickly. We arrived in Mindo after dark, but fortunately the hotel we wanted to stay in, CasKaffeSu, was right around the corner. We got a beautiful upstairs room. Then we headed downstairs for a few tall pilseners, a tasty dinner, and some really nice conversation with Susan, who owns the hotel with her Ecuadorian husband, Luis.


Posted by jtlande 17:27 Archived in Ecuador Tagged bus Comments (0)

Exploring Mindo

all seasons in one day
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We had a wonderful day in Mindo on Wednesday, our first full day here. Our morning started with coffee, eggs and toast at Caskaffesu. The coffee was great...doesn´t sound like a big deal but apparently in Ecuador it´s really tough to find anything but instant coffee. I guess they ship all the good stuff over to the US!

Here´s Joanna´s "Happy Coffee" smile.

After breakfast we walked up the dirt road at the edge of town to the Mariposas de Mindo - the buttefly farm. This was a nifty little place, with an enclosed area where they have hundreds of butterflies of 25 varieties flying around. One really neat butterfly called the "Owls Eyes" had markings on the backs of its wings that look just like an owl´s face, and if you look carefully at the corner of the wing the markings look like a snake´s face. When we first walked in, the girl working there stopped and did a double-take when she saw us. Turns out it was a girl from the bus yesterday who helped us out when we were confused about where to get off. Small world. Well, Mindo really IS a small town.

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After enjoying the butterfly farm we continued walking up the road, alongside the river. There we found the zipline place that Susan and Luis from the hotel had told us about, called Mindo Canopy Adventure. This was a lot of fun! Even though the folks running the place didn´t speak any English, and our Spanish is still pitiful, we were able to communicate pretty well. We zipped along 13 different ziplines. What a blast!


We decided to continue farther up the road to find the waterfalls. It started to rain pretty heavily but we were determined to make it to the waterfalls. Good thing we did, because the rain stopped after about 15 minutes and we didn´t hit any more rain during our walk.

We arrived at the tarabita, which is a wire basket thingy hooked to steel cables that takes you across a river basin and joins with trails to the waterfalls on the other side. It wasn´t nearly as precarious or scary as it sounds.


There, we hiked up and down a bunch of muddy trails and saw the Santuary of the five cascadas (waterfalls). Nice smallish waterfalls, but not of the "oh wow!" variety. And of course, the farther we walked down the farther our walk back was. No biggie, since I look at each of our hikes as training for the Inca Trail trek that we´ll be doing in Peru in a month.

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We were done with the waterfalls fairly quickly, so we headed back across on the wire basket tram thingamabob and walked back down the road into Mindo.


We had a pretty full and very enjoyable day.

Posted by jtlande 15:36 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

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