Friday we did not have classes so I went with Amy and Ruth to ride the TeleferiQo, a gondala that goes up the side of Volcan Pichincha. We could see all of Quito below plus three more major mountains in the distance. Ruth and Amy flew home at 7. It was great to have them here this week!
This weekend I spent in Mindo with two guys who are also volunteering in Quito. On Friday night we went out to "Gringolandia," the hub of all the discotecas here in Quito. We spent most of our time dancing...it was alright. The gringolandia scene was a little busy for me though. But here is news--inside one of the bars there was a collection of liscence plates from the US and guess what state was among them? None other than Nebraska.
Early on Saturday morning we took a 2 and a half hour bus to Mindo for $2.50. While on the bus my friend Truman got out his camera and took a picture then put his camera back in his bag. He then put his bag on the floor and laid back to relax for a while. About 5 minutes later our bus stopped at a town along the way and the man sitting behind Truman got off the bus. About 10 minutes later Truman was going to take out his camera only to find the case was empty. Probable event: his camera was stolen by the man who was sitting behind him. Gotta be careful on busses!
When we got to Mindo the first thing we did was look for a hostel. We found a cute little place a short walk away from the town center that was run by two sisters and their mother. It was the nicest hostel I have ever seen! We each paid $10 each for 2 rooms which also included: a balcony with a hammock, warm water and breakfast.
Mindo is famous for 3 things: butterflies, flowers and waterfalls. On Saturday we explored the waterfalls. But first we had a lunch that costed a total of $5.50. We got rice, beans, hot sauce and the boys had chicken while I got a banana with cheese in it. It was delicious! I dont know anywhere in the US that you can get a meal a big and delicious as these were for as cheap.
We could pay a dollar for a shuttle to the waterfall area but opted to save money and walk the hour and a half to get there. Then we had to ride in a metal cart OVER a forest and river. We were ridiculously high up above the trees in a metal basket. And a lady who worked there stood on a ledge outside the basket like it was nothing.
Once we got to the other side we went for a nice hike on some jungle paths to get to the waterfalls. When I say jungle, I mean vegitation like I have never seen before. Trees everywhere. Ferns and mosses growing on the trees. And we are pretty sure there was even a palm tree growing on top of another tree...
We saw one cool creature there...a gigantic millipede. And we saw leaves that were almost 2 feet big. They were everywhere.
When we got to one of the waterfalls we all got in and swam. The water was freezing but it was definitely worth it! John then climbed up on a ledge (about 8 or 10 feet up) and jumped in! Truman was next. So I climbed up there. I stood there for a while not really wanting to jump then I decided to do it and I jumped right away. My train of thoughts in my head was, "Jump now so when you change your mind you will already be in the air and it will be too late to turn back!" And I did. And it was amazing. Definitely worth it.
On our hour and a half hike back to town it rained on us the whole way. By the time we got back to our cozy hostel we were all ready to shower, change and just relax for the night. And that is just what we did.
This morning we woke up and had yogurt and bread with homemade guava mermalade on bread. It was a delicious breakfast. Then we went to the Mariposaria--the butterfly nursery (Mariposa is butterfly in Spanish). The butterflys were beautiful! There were so many different kids and colors. And if you rubbed your finger in a very ripe banana you could hold a butterfly on your finger and they would lick the banana juice off your finger. It was fantastic.
After then Mariposaria we hopped onto some tubes and floated down Rio Mindo. There were about 8 tubes all tied together and we had a guide who pulled us over rocks and guided us down the river. Our safety precautions: helmets and lifejackets. Anywhere else in the world you would have to sign your life away, but here we just put the helmets and lifejackets on and jumped in. And happily floated down the river while our guide did all of the work. I was actually very impressed by him. He knew the river. He knew which rocks to go between and which way to guide us to make it the easiest and most enjoyable.
After all that adventure we ate the $5.50 lunch again then got on a bus back to Quito.