A Reflection of My Life after living in Uganda as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ecuador Part III: Mindo

Ecuador has a variety of landscapes and environments. We decided to leave the hussle and bussle of the capital city and head further West to Mindo, a more jungley area. We took the bus and after several switch-backs, my stomach wasn't feeling so settled. It was a great relief to stop in Mindo, a quaint little town with cobbled streets surrounded by a green jungle. This is one of Jen's favorite places in Ecuador. She took us to a hostal where we stayed in a place that resembled a tree house! I got my own little room at the very top that had windows on all sides. A little stream ran below the tree house and brought calming sounds as we slept peacefully. My personal favorite part was that each bed had a mosquito net! This brought many comforting memories back and made me feel safe and protected in my sleep once again. As the expert mosquito netter, I helped everyone set up their net for the night and then tucked them in. In the morning all agreed it was a great night because of the protection offered by those mosquito nets!

Tree house hostel, my room at the top

Betsy under her mosquito net

The next morning we climbed in the back of a pick-up and bumped along a dirt road going up to the canopy of the forest. Once at the top we stepped into harnesses, placed helmets on our heads and put our hands into heavy-duty work gloves and climbed up to a plateform where we were strapped to a cable. With slight trepidation (lots of trepidation for Betsy), we jumped off and flew over the canopy zip-lining over breathtaking views. It was truly a memorable experience. We flew over deep valleys and small streams. We flew in the clouds at times and brushed tree limbs and leaves at other times. It was a wonderful way to see an Ecuadorian forest/jungle.

With any travels, food can be an important aspect. When traveling with Jen, food is a very important aspect, especially any sweet foods! Ecuador is one of ten countries that pass through the equator and with its strategic location an abundance of food can be grown year-round. We have been busy drinking fresh juice, eating traditional Ecuadorian meals (potato soup, fish, plantains), stopping at every brownie shop along the way and trying ice-cream made from copper bowls.

Jen sent us an itinerary before coming to Ecuador and on this well planned itinerary, several brownie stops were timed in. Not just any brownie though - organic brownies! When I read this part to family members and friends, there was great concern over what "organic" meant. Well, I have tried all these organic brownies and there haven't been any strange feelings after eating them so rest assured, organic doesn't mean any illegal substance.

Fresh trout, plantains and salad Jen and I eating organic brownies
Smashed and fried plantains - reminded me a little of matoke, just a little bit
At a juice bar - made fresh with the ingrediants before us

As with all adventures in the jungle, they must come to an end. After our fun flying over the canopy, eating declicious foods and sleeping peacefully in our tree house beneith mosquito nets, we sat back down on the bus and switch-backed our way back to Quito for the next adventure.

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