Ecuador, part 2 – Mindo

Last night the Friday festivities in Quito started to really pick up steam around 8pm with the dance party trucks rolling by every few minutes, pumping salsa (music) of course. My hotel was tucked away on a quiet street but these are serious sound systems so the music carries for blocks. Luckily for me, the salsa was replaced by the sound of light rain around 10pm and I was able to enjoy some of Gremlins 2 in peace before turning in for a good night’s sleep. Better luck next time Quito party people.

When I was on the plane over here, I watched an odd advertisement for… gratitude. Nothing being sold, no hidden agenda. The ad just stated that people who feel more gratitude in their lives live happier, healthier, and longer lives. Wouldn’t it be great if more programming included messages like this? I’m not sure why I’m mentioning it here but it keeps popping back into my head. The funny thing is that the next ad would be from United, trying get you to pay extra for the premium movies. Someone at United either has a good sense of humor or they missed the irony.

This morning I took the $.25 city bus 10km north to the departure point for the $3 long distance bus to Mindo. Although Quito is an interesting city, getting out of town and into the misty mountains made me question whether I really need to see much more of it. The journey was pleasant. We twisted through lush valleys with rivers flowing far below shrouded peaks and mountainside farms. In the small villages, colorful locals would hop on for short stints, which made the scenery that much more visceral. I always wonder what these people do to put food on the table and what their daily lives are like and whether I’d be able to adapt to something like that. The British couple across from me read novels on electronic devices and occasionally broke concentration to gripe about some aspect of travel in Ecuador. It made me feel grateful for gratitude.

 

A typical roadside restaurant on the way to Mindo

A typical roadside restaurant on the way to Mindo

Although it seemed to be somewhat poor timing on my part to miss the action in Quito, its really a blessing in disguise. Normally Mindo is busy on weekends and even in tourist low season (which is now), it can fill up with Ecuadorians from Quito. So having all the Ecuadorians drawn to the parties in Quito has left Mindo peaceful and quiet, which is exactly how I like things. I learned this from the Austrian girl who gave me a tour of the local chocolate factory. She also mentioned that the “wealthy” Quitoans tend to tromp around with an air of superiority, almost as a way of differentiating themselves from the peasants. I’m not surprised – I’ve seen it in other countries.

Aside from the chocolate tour, I just kinda wandered the dirt backroads of Mindo, throwing out holas to the locs and kicking rocks at the odd aggressive dog. One angry dog had asthma and it would bark like crazy and then break into a fit of coughing, and then repeat, much to my amusement. It doesn’t sound like much, but that kinda stuff beats the packaged tours hands down, every single time. It was a fine afternoon.

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Its now evening and I can hear some festivities going on a few blocks away from my cozy pad next to the river. I think I’ll wander down there and see about some dinner. Hasta manana!

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