Mindo: Cloud Forest getaway before the Galapagos

I had originally planned to travel from Quito to the west coast of Ecuador before heading out to the Galapagos.  After talking with one of my hosts, Ilia, about travel times to Esmeraldas and Ayampe, I quickly realized that I’d most likely be rushing through those areas.  Ilia also recommended that I check out Mindo, a small town 2 hours outside of Quito, nestled in one of the Cloud Forests in Ecuador.

I arrived in Mindo Saturday afternoon and quickly set out to locate a hostel to stay at.  Having read about a nice hostel, La Casa de Cecilia, I headed there first.  She had availability and WIFI.  At only $8 a night, it was a steal.  I ended up with a single private room on the second floor.  It was simple and seemed to have a nice breeze continuously blowing through it most of the time.

I set out and in search of water and other amenities before settling in for an afternoon siesta.  I was happy to be on my own.  While I love being hosted, I was ready to strike out on my own and discover things for myself.  I had dinner at a small Ecuadorian Pizza shop in town.  It was there that I felt a bit lonely for the first time.  I headed back to my room and as I arrived, I met Kacey and Toni.  It was as if the universe was saying “I’m sorry you’re feeling alone, so I shall provide two new friends for you to hang out with”.  After some small talk, Kacey and Toni invited me to join them for dinner and drinks next door at El Quetzal with their friend Katie and Adam, another traveler they met from Sweden.  All of them were travelers taking an extended break from their jobs.  The women were nurses who were traveling South America for the next 4-6 months.  They had just arrived in Ecuador from Columbia a week prior.

After dinner, we all took a small break and then went out for drinks and some salsa dancing.  We ended up at a bar with a really bad Bob Marley painting on the wall.  It reminded me a bit of the botched Spanish fresco painting, Ecce Homo.  We were there for a couple hours conversing about every subject imaginable over beers.  We later ended up at a club where the women could do some salsa dancing.  I vow that I will take a lesson in dancing salsa soon.

The next day, I got up early and went jogging.  I had been feeling my waistline getting bigger and decided that I needed a bit more exercise.  After breakfast, I decided to head out to the Mariposario, a butterfly farm.  The person I bought my ticket from told me that it was a 30 minute walk from town.  It was more like an hour, and while exhausted, it was well worth it.  I also got to try out my new convertible pants, unzipping the bottoms so that they change from pants to shorts.  There were butterflies of all shapes an sizes.  Some were feeding on rotting banana.  A person could take their finger and rub it in the banana juice and attract a butterfly to sit on your finger while it feasts on the banana juice.

I took my time heading back, taking pictures along the way.  Right before arriving at my hostel, I met another traveler, Katie, a fiery redhead bartender from Chicago.  I invited her out and we had lunch with the rest of the crew, minus Adam who had left that morning.  After lunch, I headed back for a siesta and later said goodbye to the girls from New York.  We talked about the possibility of meeting in Ecuador or Peru later for Thanksgiving.  I told them I would make the garlic mashed potatoes if it worked out.  I may even meet up with them when I’m in the Galapagos.

That evening, I met up with Chicago Katie one last time before heading off to bed.  The next day, I took a bus back to Quito and then a flight to Guayaquil.  I immediately located the Dreamkapture hostel and settled in for the day.  I met James from New Zealand at the entrance and Patrick from Sweden a bit later.  I later met Celine from France at the pool.  She was relieved that I could speak French and offered me some of the wine that she was drinking.  All of them were my roommates for the night and it turns out that all of them were going to the Galapagos the next day.  It seems that there will be a lot of familiar faces when I get there.

I and everyone there that night opted to stay in rather than check out Guayaquil.  Honestly, there was only one thing in the guidebook that I felt would be fun to see.  Maybe I’ll check out Guayaquil after I get back from the Galapagos, but I’m discovering more and more that the big cities aren’t always the best draw.  I’m more drawn to areas that are not so heavily populated.  I feel safer.  It seems the people that are in these places are more laid-back and approachable.