I found a very special place: Mindo. It’s a little bohemian town about two hours west of Quito in the cloud forest. Some of the buildings are Oregon Country Faire-ish, a few residents sport dreads, and I spotted a bohemian painting a magic mushroom mural on “main street.” Luckily, I ended up here on a weekday and was the only patron in the hostel last night. Very quiet and peaceful. Somehow, this place was “discovered” a few years back and is a popular destination for backpackers, hikers, etc. I think there are more hostels than houses in town. Nonetheless, we are all here for the incredible beauty and serenity of the cloud forest. The cloud forest is at a higher elevation than the rain forest and creates and traps it’s own moisture (clouds). When I first arrived, it reminded me of a misty morning in Eugene.
Fran on a zip-line thousands of feet above the ground??!! It’s that kind of vacation–-–where you just have to expand your mind/body and think and do things differently. Was I scared? No. Terrified! at first. I somehow remember in all my years of skiing that the chair lifts are fitted with double cables in the rare event that one breaks. Not so in Ecuador, and no one seems to be concerned about the lack of that safety feature. It’s a poor country . . . but it’s my life! The harnesses were a bit of a concern as well. As my guide reached for one to strap me into, I pleaded in my poor Spanish for him to put me in one “mas nuevo”, as some of the webbing appeared rather frayed. (It’s history now, as I am alive and well in my cozy hostel room.) What an experience! There were 10 different zip lines and I flew them all. One in spread condor formation. The pictures best tell the tale.
So I continue to keep burping out Hebrew while searching for Spanish words, and, what a small world! Here I was, alone at the base of a waterfall in the cloud forest, doing a mikvah thing in my underware and someone up on the bridge above (who I hadn’t seen arrive) is taking a picture of me. I later climb up onto the bridge to ask them to please take a picture of me for my daughter, WITH my clothes on, . . . and, why, they are a family from Israel!! We chatted in Hebrew a bit, hugged, and they invited me to come to their home in Tel Aviv.
The hike to a series of 5 waterfalls was beautiful. I mean, we have even more dramatic waterfalls in Oregon, but the plant life is astounding. Here I was, thousands of miles from home, surrounded by all my house plants! Truly! I saw many of them, and some with leaves as big as coffee tables, that would certainly hold enough water for a good 5 minute shower.
Met some Aussies. They’re are a chipper bunch, in my age bracket, and lots of fun to chat with. We reveled in conversation and stories about being in our 50’s and what we’ve done, want to do, and the struggle, economically, to make it all happen.
Tonight, I thought I was getting a message that I’m meant to be in Mindo. The one ATM in town is broken, I’m out of cash, and well, I could just look for a job . . . Kindly enough, the hostel patrons (she was born it Portland!) are giving me a cash advance so I can make my way back to Quito, and a bank. Hmm. Mixed feelings. This place DEFINITELY needs a bagel shop.