Last weekend, I visited the town of Mindo, which is a two hour drive from Quito. Although it’s not too far from the city, it felt like we were entering a completely different atmosphere, away from the busy city life and into the jungle.
We arrived on friday evening and checked in at our hostel, La Casa de Cecilia. Back in the United States, I would’ve paid 100$ a night to stay at this hostel, but it was only $9.50 a night. It was like a treehouse built around a hummingbird garden, and had a beautiful lake overlooking the terrace. The first night, we went to a “frog concert” in a small forest area, where we spotted hundreds of tiny frogs singing (or making frog-sounds) as soon as the sun went down. We also spotted different types of scary creatures (I don’t remember their names), spiders, bats, and a type of florescent bacteria that resides in tree and glows in the dark.
On Saturday, we hiked all day at el Santuario de las Cascadas. This sanctuary holds 7 different waterfalls, to which you have to hike to through of the forest. We only reached 4, and we hiked for about 5 hours. On the way to the biggest waterfall, we ran into a giant tarantula, literally the size of my hand, and it is safe to say that I walked a lot faster for the rest of the hike. Once we arrived at la Cascada Reina, I was overcome with his feeling of majesty and smallness all at once. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and made me sit there and think about how small I am in the face of this amazing planet that we live in. We swam in the cascades for hours, and headed back, finally reaching possibly the most unsafe but also exhilarating flying gondola-not-really looking thing. It was the best and the most terrifying 5 minutes of my life, all at once.
We happened to arrive at Mindo on the biggest weekend of the year. They were celebrating their Virgin, so the whole town was out and alive all weekend. There were festivals, fireworks, food, and a lot of salsa dancing. The town was up so late that when we woke up on Sunday morning, the whole town was out of electricity because they had used all of it the night before.
So far it has been my most exciting weekend in Ecuador, until next weekend when I get to live with an Indigenous family at Otavalo for the weekend.