Thanksgiving in Mindo
One of my coworkers owns a hotel in Mindo, Ecuador, a small town in the cloud forest about two hours outside of Quito. I visited last year but there is so much to do that I have always wanted to go back and try out some of the other activities. Twenty something of the teachers from my school stayed at the hotel for Thanksgiving weekend and we turned it in to a huge 3 day long party. The hotel is one of the nicest places I have stayed ever in South or Central America, excluding maybe the bed and breakfast I stayed at in Buenos Aires. Big comfy beds with beautiful views, every room had a little terrace with a hammock. The included breakfast was amazing and everything in town is within a couple minutes walking distance.
The first afternoon we went to a chocolate farm and took a tour. We got to try to fresh stevia straight off the vine (so sweet!) as well as coffee nibs, brownies, unsweetened chocolate paste, chocolate barbeque sauce, and ginger honey. The tour part was ok, but I just wanted to try all the foods to be honest. Everything that goes into the chocolate was grown right there; chili, coffee, ginger, etc.
Cocoa airing out, friends with our tour guide
View of a cloudy Mindo from the chocolate farm
The next day was more of an adventure. We went up a hill even higher into the mountains to a trail that is a half hour hiking straight down into the forest to the base of a waterfall. Along the way, we passed lots of fun excursions. There was a canopy cable car attached to a zipline, giant rope swing, some people grilling chicken and plantains, bungee jumping zip lining (I know, right?!!), and finally the waterfall. Along the side of the river someone had built a concrete waterslide that drops you 10 feet in the air, which was both fun and painful.
Path in the forest
Giant leaf compared to my foot!!
This is me shooting out of the water slide into the river
Hanging out on some rocks
Slower, shallow portion of the river where you can swim
Clinging onto the rope for dear life
I thought I would have problems with my asthma working my way back up the hill but it flew by and I did just fine. We stopped to do the bungee jumping ziplining on the way up. It was only two lines with NO safety precautions. No helmets, no mechanism to stop you, no life jackets. It was a twenty food long bungee cord attached to the zip line. You run off the edge of the cliff, and you can just fall, or somersault, but I chose to dive head first and flip upside down. You then bounce up and down the entire way across the top of the cloud forest.
Me flying off the hill
My friend coming in for a probably hard landing against a concrete wall
Laura swinging on a hammock after the hike
Caught a ride in a truck back to Mindo after our hike
Thanksgiving dinner was at the hotel. They really decorated beautifully and it felt like having family. It's nice to be living in a foreign country but to have such a strong sense of community with my coworkers. The dinner was pretty fancy.
With friends at Thanksgiving dinner
I am going to end this entry with a photo. This is me meditating on a rock in the forest.