Posted by: robinson2000 | February 9, 2011

Raining Dogs in Mindo

5th-8th February – We left the lovely and safe Quito behind us feeling we’d done the city justice, seen the sites and more importantly not experienced any unpleasant muggings. Our chosen destination was a small sleepy town a couple of hours north called Mindo. We left the Secret Garden Hostel and jumped on the metro bus to the cities northern bus station having been reassured by the hostel that their were plenty of buses going to Mindo. Going by our previous experience with buses you should always be prepared for a long wait and this was no different as we found out the next bus to Mindo was in 5 hours time. To kill the time we dumped our treasured belongings in the bus terminal and headed to a local shopping plaza where we grabbed a dirty KFC and settled down to watch Manchester United get beaten by Wolves. Eventually the bus arrived and it was an easy 2 hours down to Mindo that boasts of its cloud covered forests which basically means its going to rain the whole time. Sure enough as we stepped off the bus it was hammering down but we were reassured by the hostel owner that it doesn’t rain in the mornings.

The hostel we stayed at (El Rojio) was run by a crazy hippy lady who was incredibly vague about everything and kept 8 dogs in the place. It was nice rustic place and provided shelter from the rain which persisted for the majority of our stay. That evening we went for dinner in a descent pizzeria down the road but by 9pm everything was closing up and the only discotheque in town had seen better days. We ended up returning to the hostel with 3 bottles of rum which cost barely anything and drinking with some Europeans who were staying at the same place till the wee hours of the morning.

Contrary to our hippy owners limited wisdom, it was still pouring the next morning so we hiked over to a hostel/restaurant that produced its own chocolate. We were given a guided tour of the property and shown how they produced the chocolate from the cocoa plant. The funniest thing about the place was our inexperienced guide from Michigan who kept forgetting his lines as he spoke about the process and we ended up moving off the topic of chocolate to brewing beer which was his specialist subject. Using barley seeds, hops, yeast and any other natural ingredients he could find (most of which was grown around the property), he was given the enviable task of brewing a beer that would hopefully be sold around Ecuador instead of the god awful Pilsner that the locals drank. He was given the freedom to experiment with a whole range of flavours but the best sounding one was a chocolate and chilli combination. We ended the tour with a couple of tasters of his latest efforts which were amazing and headed back to the hostel for a lazy afternoon.

The following day we headed to the canopy adventure with much clearer heads except for Rice who was suffering from a fever, stomach cramps and a touch of the runs. He ended up staying back at the hostel with crazy lady who had thrown a tantrum over breakfast and smashed something. The canopy adventure consisted of 13 zip lines that zig zagged over a valley that overlooked the forests tree tops. You were then harnessed to the zip lines and sent whizzing down these cables at breakneck speeds. It was brilliant and the best part was when the instructors let you do the superman pose as you hurtled down 300 metres of cable and a couple hundred feet above the ground.

In the afternoon we visited a butterfly and hummingbird centre. The butterfly’s were quite disappointing compared to the ones from Cali but the tiny hummingbirds were amazing to watch as they buzzed around the sugar-water that was laid out to attract them.

On the final morning of our stay we had a short tubing adventure down the river. For anyone that has done tubing before and for those that haven’t, tubing is usually a peaceful relaxing activity in which you sit in a rubber ring and gently float down a calm tranquil river for a couple of hours. Instead we were told to jump on top of 7 rubber rings lashed together with rope to form a raft and then proceeded to be taken down some of the biggest rapids i had ever witnessed. The experience for far from tranquil as the 3 of us hung on for dear life and the raft bounced and spun its way down the rapids for what seemed like eternity. Poor Rice who was still quite weak & unwell, bravely hung on but he looked like a man who had just been through a tough spell in Guantanamo Bay. We all somehow made it back safely and packed up our gear for the journey back to Quito.

The journey back for the most part was uneventful until we hit the area near the hostel we wanted to stay at. We got off the bus and headed a couple of blocks to an ATM to draw some money out for the next few days. We all withdrew $300 and began the 5-10 minute walk through the busy streets in broad day light. As we rounded a corner we came across 3 suspicious looking guys strolling towards us. As luck would have it there were 2 policemen over the road who had also spotted them and moved towards them drawing their pistols in the process and lining them up against a wall for searching. We quickly moved on and was just approaching the corner of our road when 2 different shady characters approached us with a purposeful stride and a menacing expression. Myself and Spice quickly spotted the danger and we all darted into the bakery on the corner of the street. We waited a few minutes until they had gone and then moved quickly up the street to the Secret Garden Hostel checking our rears as we went. Thankfully we made it safely to the hostel as we would have been no match for them considering we were slowed down with our large rucksacks and we were each carrying a lot of money. We felt like a group of fat plump chickens wandering through a lion’s den waiting to see who would get eaten first.

Next stop is Cotopaxi which is home to the 6000 metre volcano  which we will hopefully climb.

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  1. […] a headache, fever, diarrhoea, and violent stomach cramps. So Spice and Ben headed off to enjoy some ziplining whilst I was holed up in the hostel, shaking like a shitted […]

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