I left my heart in San FranMINDO!

14th January:
I feel like I’ve wasted your time with the last two blogs, however, I did pre warn you at the beginning that sometimes it would be fun and sometimes it would be boring. It wouldn’t be fair if I had fun all the time. And if you’re reading this post after the last two shit ones, thank you for sticking with it and showing faith in me. But be prepared now for sheer excitement in my tone and less complaining/scepticism about buses.

I have finally made a trip to Mindo. On my own too. It went well. The journey here was incredible. Imagine if you were driving in the mountains, through cloud forests, past waterfalls and rainbows… Well it was EXACTLY like that. Just absolutely stunning. The bus terminal was fairly easy. I can ask for what I need and kinda understand certain things that I hear. I got a ticket and a seat so it’s working. Which is more than can be said for the hostel that I booked. Remember I signed off my last post with “And my hostel has a pool”. Well, I got there and they didn’t have my reservation or any rooms. I felt like Mary and Joseph (if that were true because I just watched an Attenborough piece on a huge bone discovery in Argentina that definitely belongs to a dinosaur and has been there for more than 100 million years – yay science! Yay Attenborough!) I did no more than walk away and look for somewhere else and that rainbow I saw must have given me luck because I struck gold with a place to stay. The chap said they only had a room for 4 and it was $90 for one night. That’s really expensive here! I said I’d take it and that I’d sleep in each bed just to get my money’s worth. He laughed (obvs). He did me a deal. $80 for TWO NIGHTS but I mustn’t even look at the bunk beds. Fine I said. He shows me to the room…. IT HAS A BALCONY, WITH A HAMMOCK AND OVERLOOKING A STREAM!! “What if I sleep out here and you charge me $40?” I ditch my bags and head down to the bar (Sorry Nan). I deserve it. I made my first solo trip in South America. The flight to Quito doesn’t count but I deserve a medal for that. Worst. Flight. Ever.

I’m in love with Mindo and I haven’t even done any trips yet. The journey was beautiful. My host is lovely. My room is exactly what I would want. I am excited for the rest of my time here. It’s only 8.30pm and I’m normally asleep by 11pm (remember I said I’m up at 7am though… #oldgirl). I order some comida and a glass of vino tinto before retiring to my boudoir at 10pm. I have to be up early and hope it’s not raining so that I can go and see some butterflies.

15th January:
Ok. The butterfly farm was incredible. It’s an interactive butterfly garden, where you can see the 4 stages of the butterfly life, surrounded by 1200 colorful butterflies at the same time. Whilst in the exhibition you can feed the butterflies. They love bananas. Go, well, bananas for them. Hosteria Mariposas de Mindo is the largest butterfly exhibition in Ecuador and the one that has the most species flying all over you. Part of their butterfly production goes back into the wild, which is part of their conservation program in the area. It was just stunning. You have to be careful where you are walking as they fly that low as well. You don’t wanna, oops… Make that surrounded by 1199 butterflies haha. I’m joking.

I hired a bike for $5 and went cycling in the mountains nearby for a little over an hour. That altitude thing is a pain. But it felt good. Although, I love how I decide to run/cycle at a higher altitude and in higher temperatures. I’m shattered now. I even accidentally nodded off for 20mins when I got out the shower. I’m staying for an extra night and I’m gonna get a massage at some point. I’ve been saying that for about 3 months. Last massage I had was in Egypt, and that must have easily been about 3 or 4 years ago. Blimey.

Tomorrow I’m gonna go and chase waterfalls. I woke up at 6.30am today. I’ll be asleep by 10pm!

16th January:
I had a lay-in! Must have been that cycling. I woke up at 8am! Ok, I was sleeping by 10.30pm. I was exhausted from so much excitement, I think.

I leave around 11ish and head for the ‘Yellow House Trail’. A beautiful little forest trail for bird watching and a stunning view of Mindo about an hour into the walk. I pass some cows. They first look at me as if I’m trespassing but I have my little map in my hand so they know that I’m not. It’s hot. Like 33 Celsius. Which is hot when you’re not hiking through a forest at this high altitude. I’m mad. I’m sure I am actually because I took a video of some ants carrying stuff and said, “Ants carrying things” and laughed. Then I stood upright like, “I’m losing it. I need more human interaction”. Shortly after, I pass the cows again (I’m not walking round in circles, I’m heading back). I take my phone out to video them looking at me strangely again, like, dudes, you just saw me with my map. You know I’m allowed here. Well, I’d been videoing my pocket. Which was rubbish, obviously, but my walk is quite rhythmic. After that I hitched a ride to the waterfalls. When I got there you have to ride a cable car to get to the side where the mountains are. I didn’t really think about it, hopped in and then oooooohhhhhhhhhh myyyyyyyyyyyy goooooooooooooooooossssssshhhhhhhhhhh!! We’re really high. Over more forest and water and if this breaks I’ll die, oh and now we’ve arrived the other side. That was actually quite thrilling. Mum will tell you of a time. I can’t remember where we were, or maybe I have blocked the memory because I’m scarred and I twitch when I think about it, but we were somewhere and we went on a ride that spun you upside down and I’m certain that I wasn’t strapped in properly. I screamed for the duration of the ride, almost in tears. Mum was in tears. From laughing so hard. Also, it was a year ago today (January 16th) that I was in Las Vegas with Glenn and he made me go on the rides at Stratosphere. But I was extremely jet-lagged, drunk, even asleep in one of the pictures from the rides. Either that or he drugged me. I walk down some steps and up some steps and under a fallen tree, across a rickety old bridge, along a small footpath, through some leaves and I come to my first waterfall and its stunning! Before you arrive at it, you can hear it. And as it’s getting louder and you know you’re getting closer, it’s a similar feeling to watching your ‘Pizza Tracker’ on a hungover day (If you know, then you know). It’s magical here. I’m in love with Mindo and would recommend it to everyone.

Being on my own the last few days has really helped my Spanish as well, so when I leave Quito at the end of the month, I feel confident to be alone and get a bus somewhere, find a hostel, order a pizza, and of course, a beer or wine. I head back to Quito tomorrow, to be reunited with my pals and I’m looking forward to seeing them.

Ps: I hope you enjoyed the title of this post. Other options were:

“Mindo, Mindo. Where fore art thou, Mindo!” Or, “Me, Myself and Mindo” Or, “Once upon a Mindo” Or, “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls (in Mindo)”

I’ll stop now. Ciao x

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