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Mindo
Galapagos by land!

The snorkel man will get you!The snorkel man will get you! (Monika Sundem)
This morning we wake very early to go to Mindo, a cloudforest area about 2 hours North and West of Quito. En route on the windy mountain road we stop for breakfast at a small restaurant with hummingbird feeders along the outside of the eaves. After a quick cup of coffee and some banana fried with cheese, we continue on and reach this small town. We continued driving up a muddy dirt road up a mountain to the zipline canopy tour. From here we harness ourselves and zip our way across deep ravines over the cloudforest. Jens even does a move called La Mariposa (or the butterfly) where a guide goes with him and holds his legs up so that he remains upside down on the cable (it looked very goofy from behind).
After 10 cables – the longest of which was 500 meters, we continue on to La Cascada Azul (or the Blue Waterfall). We have to climb down the hill using the trail to an area where a ton of kids, men and women are swimming in some natural pools at the op of the main waterfall. They have a small waterslide here, and multiple cliff jumps that one can use. Marcelo and Jens decide to jump form one about 30 feet high into the area right at the base of the 8 meter waterfall. Then we all started to climb in, and after finding the water to be extremely cold, we proceed to crawl back out again! We all then changed our clothes using the change rooms provided and decide to hike back up the hillside. Towards the end, the rain starts to pour on us, to the point that we are completely drenched. We finally arrive back to the car and drive back to Mindo and eat lunch at a local area where I am served a huge plate of foot for only $3.80. After lunch we decide to head back to Quito and visit La Mitad del Mundo. Here we are able to stand at the 00 00’ 00” GPS point on the Equator and learn how water in the Northern hemisphere rotates counter clockwise when it drains, and how in the Southern hemisphere it goes clockwise. Right on the Equator, by the way, it goes straight down without any whirlpools. It is so fascinating, the drain only had to move 5 feet one way or the other to change it. Also we are able to do other experiments testing out the gravitational pull of the Equator – including balancing an egg on a nail. Next we learn about the different indigenous people groups in Ecuador (including the Huorani – the people we visit on our AA8 trip) as well as other native customs and traditions. It was all very fascinating! After this we return to our hotel for a quick shower and then head to the airport for our long journey back to Missoula.

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