Sunday, June 10, 2012
Visit to the equator and new destination Mindo
Madeline flew in late Friday and I was happy to see her join the group. Luis cooked us eggs for breakfast and then we loaded up the bus and took off for Mindo. Quito is so spread out that it felt like we were driving for an hour before we ever got out of the city. First stop, the equator monument. Callie asked how wide was the actual equator line…this sparked interesting comments but in the end we did not know. However, a nice 3-4 inch wide yellow line was painted at the monument site and we spent lots of time sitting, standing, and laying on the two hemispheres. We loaded back on the bus and drove through hills and valleys and saw the scenery change to the lush green cloud forest of Mindo. Mindo is a small tourist destination village. The big draw is birding. It is said that more birds have been spotted in the Mindo area than any other place in the world. You will need to verify this information yourself…this is just what I have been told. Anyway, we drove through the small town area… the paved road ended and the dirt road to our Bambu Hotel began. Up the muddy road was our destination. Jorge, the bus driver, decided to back the bus up the very narrow, muddy road. About 100 yards up the road the incline was too much for the bus to handle and Jorge announced that he could not go any further. We needed to get our bags and walk the last 50 yards up the road to the hotel. All I could think of was how much fun I was going to have dragging my extra heavy rolling suitcase up the muddy road. Others had the same problem but they are about 1/3 my age and 5/3's stronger…but we all made it. Our accommodation is remotely situated. We are in wood cabins. The windows are unscreened with wooden doors. The lighting in the room is dim. I have to use my flashlight to look for things. It feels like we are in the country. I can hear insects talking like they did when I was a kid camping out on the Brazos river on a warm summer night. The grounds are very green and the plants are overly healthy looking. Lots of flowering plants add color. It feels like we are on an adventure, not a vacation even though there is a nice pool and hot tub. We spent the afternoon and evening walking to town, eating and having a big photo lesson with Massimo. Massimo Bassamo is our Nat Geo photo expert. I worked with him two years ago when we took this program to Tanzania. He traveled 27 hours from Italy to come and work with us. He is a great guy.