Marie travels solo northwest of Quito - April 2012
Hola to ALL,
I had to go to Northwest of Quito to deliver a package of Coconut Oil and view my Doctor Friend's Paradise Wellness Center. The whole experience was a lesson in" expecting the unexpected"! Joe had to stay home with the dog, house and his Eucalyptus tabletops he is making. ("Boo Hoo", he said)
Friday, the 6th, the Plane out of Cuenca was late a complete hour. I arrived at the Quito Terminal at 4:00 pm. (pop. Quito=2.5 Million----a sea of humanity and one can "feel" it) I called my friend to have her give directions to the Taxi man for which Bus Terminal to use to Mindo (in the Cloud Forest, elev. approx. 5,000 ft). She did so. When I arrived there NO Buses were running because a landslide had happened on the road that only takes 2.5 hours. It was pouring rain! I called my friend again because she talked to the terminal agents, who by now were giggling full volume over this, and helped me to get directions to another terminal for the Long Way 'Round! I met a nice couple going there for the weekend and we shared a cab to the next terminal. We all hopped on the bus to Santo Domingo not knowing that it would take a full 4 hours to get there. It was too late for another bus so we found a close Hotel, simple and clean with a window and private bath for each @ $12 the night! We walked to a Chinese Restaurant and finally ate at 10:00 pm. That consisted of a full Chop Suey plate for $2.50, about 3 servings, and Tea for 80 cents. Soren, the young man, was from Denmark going to school in Quito for Spanish curriculum, and Stefanie, his girl, was Ecuadorian and worked at an English Pub that "served English Fish and Chips like those in Seattle"!
The next morning we just grabbed fruit and coffee to take on the bus at 8:30. This ride was to San Miguel de Los Bancos and took 3 hours. When we stopped the bus started to take off with my luggage underneath. Soren hiked after it for a whole block and retrieved it for me! Great guy! We were standing at the corner to find a Taxi and a man and his little boy stuck their head out a window and asked if we were going to Mindo. We said "Yes" and threw our stuff in back of the pickup. Stefanie asked "Cuanto Questa" (how much) and he said $3 or $1 each for a ride that would have been $10 to $12 by taxi! On the road we picked up a couple waiting for the bus and they threw their stuff in the back and rode on the plank by the back window! This was another 1/2 hour ride to the little town of Mindo, about 2,500 pop. We were all tired after the long "Detour" we didn't plan for!
My doctor friend had told me that her mother owned a Pizza place with the old Brick Bread Hornear (oven) up front. We found it and had a good lunch right at Noon. I delivered my Coconut jar to the mom not knowing whether I would see my friend because of the road closure and no buses were running. After lunch we went to a cute little Hostel that Soren and Stefanie had stayed at a year ago and liked. Even the name was romantic----La Casa de Cecilia Hospedaje. We took a few minutes looking at different rooms available. There were three buildings. We chose one at the front and away from the main house, noise, and eating area. Soren and Stefanie chose the very top room with windows showing the entire valley view, but no bath except a shared one down the stairs for $7.50! I got a small room with one double bed and a private bath for $10 on the floor beneath them. All rooms had mosquito nets over the beds. (necessary there) I had a River view and the noise of the cascading water was heavenly! Breakfast was additional $2.50.
We unpacked and took a two hour walk through that end of the town where the roads led to hotels, restaurants, quaint coffee shops, and the "tiendas" for Cloud Forest events like "Canyoning/rafting, Tarzan Rope Swings, Canopy Walks at the top of the trees,Waterfall, Butterfly, and Bird Hikes, and the field trip "outbacks" to nowhere! We stopped by the river raft "put in" and had corn on the cob, BBQ'd, with cheese butter. Then on the way back it started to rain. We halted for a 1/2 hour at a Chocolate shop and warmed ourselves with a fresh cup of Hot Chocolate. We headed back to Cecilia's. Stefanie wanted to rest before dinner. When I was ready to walk to a restaurant right above us on the road at 6:00 pm, they were still sleeping. So I ate solo at the Quetzel Restaurant, named after the Bird of same. I met the manager who had only been in South America 4 years after being in Los Angeles for 22. His name was Jorge (hor-hay) or George. When he landed in Guayaquil 4 years ago he put a back pack on and walked the 400 miles to Peru and Machu Pichu Mayan Ruins He was Ecuadorian and must have felt a need to get in touch with the land and mother earth again! He had only been in Mindo for 17 days. I found him very interesting to talk to while I had my dinner. The kids were just going out to dinner at 8:30 pm and had not brought an umbrella so I loaned them mine for the 6 block walk to the mid-town area. Then I retired.
The next morning, Sunday, we went to breakfast at the Cecilia Kitchen area all in the open by the river in sweater temperature, with bird feeders and Hummingbird hangers. The $2.50 breakfast was two eggs, two croissants, butter, Guayaba marmalade, (locally famous and really good) fresh squeezed juice and coffee with steamed milk. For another $1 one could have a large cut-up fruit bowl with yogurt! We sat at a table with a Quito Tour Guide and Doctor wife. They had brought a lady from Denmark who was a painter of landscapes, and a fellow from South Carolina on a photo shoot. It was good for Soren who had not talked with a countryman in Danish for a year or more. Both of them knew three languages--English, Danish, and Spanish. Judy may have known French and German also. Impressive conversation.
Before we left I was snapping pictures of the birds on the feeder with Bananas sliced. All at once someone exclaimed, "Oh, there's a Quetzal". It wound up being a similar bird, but instead, a Mot Mot (sp?)with a beautiful orange body about 8" and a long bright blue tail about 7 - 9 "! That was fun for me as an amateur Birdwatcher! I'll include the picture if I can. Mindo is a famous Birdwatching destination for people who come from all over the world! There is a familiar location about 10 miles out of town that has "Cock of the Rock" mating ceremonies. The story is that 9 males will put on a show for one female, each one trying to outdo the others in display! The charge used to be $5, but, certain guides have found a gouging number of $20 to date! Birdwatchers think it is worth the cost for a once-in-a-lifetime "elusive" event.
Sunday, same day, Soren and Stefanie took another walk and then left on the only bus that day at 2:30 pm back to Quito because the road had been opened up. I was taking my own "ramble" Downtown when a man hollered at me across the street, "Senora"! He motioned me to Mama's Tigerilla Pizza Place again. I walked across to it and my friend, Catalina, the Doctor, had driven 1 and 1/2 hrs over from her Wellness Clinic in Paraiso to see me. She had also driven two young men who had been students at her seminars back from an overnight stay at the camp. We visited awhile then she drove me back to her Casa Campestre Paradise in the Cloud Forest Mountains.
Catalina has a Doctorate in Health Science and Nutrition, a Master in Public Health, and is a Naturopath Physician. She has people from 13 countries who have come to her Complex there. Her degrees are from Wiltshire University, for the Doctorate, Preventative medicine from University of Montemorelos in Mexico, Therapy from Loma Linda University, Massage from Banning Health Educational Center, plus Natural Remedies and other instruction from Dr.Thomas's place, Eden Valley, Halleluja Acres, etc. Her specialty is helping people with severe infirmities, Diabetes, Hypertension, Cardiac problems, Cancer, and Nutritional Remedies. She helps people with durations of 5, 10, 15 and 21 days of treatments physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I thoroughly enjoyed my tour of her facilities which are beautiful and serene. She took me back to Mindo in the evening after a wonderful visit. At 7:00 pm at the Quetzal I had a cup of coffee made by a man who has the reputation and Taster Test Certification of being the 4th best in the world as a coffee grower expert. It WAS delicious with a piece of homemade Carrot Cake. Then off to bed at Cecilia's because it was still raining. OH,....... this place makes Mindo Chocolate----they give Chocolate Tours at 4:00 in the afternoon to demonstrate how they grow it, pick it, dry it, grind it and bring it to the liquid, bar making state!. They make one with hot peppers in it----didn't try it. The man who owns the Restaurant is from Italy.They make their own Ginger Ale and a certain Beer also. He also has a place in Michigan where he has introduced the Chocolate. I brought Joe some 67% and 85% chocolate bars and Nibs. I got two pieces out of them!!!!
Monday at breakfast I met a couple from Israel. They told me Israelites are not allowed to visit the surrounding countries for fear of retaliation or death. I didn't know this fact. They had just finished college and were touring South America before going to work. They had been in SA for 4.5 months and had been to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador on to Columbia and then were heading home.This was the World they were Free and allowed to see! Think about this!
In the morning I had a nice tour of a property for sale in Mindo, 10 KM in the country. The fellow, manager, was going back to Quito and offered me a ride and a stay in his apartment penthouse suite. The 2.5 hour road was open by now. He owned the whole building. I had to meet our lawyer the next morning. His friend and partner from England made a great Breakfast for me of Fresh Fruit Compote w/ Almonds and Prunes, Croissants and Eggs with tea from a Real English Cozy and on English China on the smallest dining room table in the world for two! That was great hospitality and lovely company. It saved me from a difficult and dangerous Hotel Search for the night's lodging. "Simpatico" (kind and generous) people, John and Mauricio!
I waited until 2:30 PM in the afternoon for our lawyer to retreive papers she still had from our Visa accomplishments 2.5 years ago. They had kept the "originals". As usual, there was a "paper and Notary" charge of $10 plus $50 for the service. I left for the bus terminal by taxi out front of her building. I met a Jehovah's Witness at the front door. She struck up a conversation about End Times and I kibbitzed with her for about 1/2 hour. She has been in Quito for 14 years and loved it! I was told by her that there was a Bible Rambling Display at a museum in the downtown area. I did not have time to go to see it, BUT, I have always wanted to see a copy of the Vulgate Bible written in Four languages and one was on display! I hope I can catch up with this before it leaves Ecuador's premises.
Plane at 5:30 PM and home at 7:30 PM. I was happy to be back with my husband, little dog and house. So that was my story of a Side Trip to the Center of the Earth in South America. It is entirely possible to travel alone safely in a foreign country. I trust G-d for my every move and this was no exception. Great Time!
Love and Blessins' to all,
Get brave and come to visit us. We'll show y'all a great time, too!