Saturday, 3 August 2013

The highlights of Mindo

Day 66 - 3 de agosto: Mindo, Ecuador

Wow, we actually got to sleep in decently late today! Breakfast was at 9 today and consisted of eggs and bread that was kind of like a croissant. By 10 am, we were set to go on our first big adventure of the day - waterfall rappelling! First though, we had to get to the waterfall - a supposed 1 hour hike into the forest. I got into my hiking boots and jungle pants with my shorts underneath - i would be getting wet at the waterfall. On our way out of town, we were brought by a store to buy shoes that were good for the waterfall - however, they didn't carry any that were remotely my size. So instead, i bought some gumboots for $10. We continued a block further and met the people that were running our activity. They only spoke enough english to tell us what to do, but that was enough. It was so funny though, because a little dog named Samuel tagged along with us the whole way (actually acting as the leader of the group). This little dog barked some cows right off the road for us and led us through some pretty challenging terrain. In order to get to the waterfall, we were hiking pretty steep uphill for most of the way - it actually took us more like 2 hours to reach it. The last part of the hike was very steep and difficult - and at this point, i was wearing the gumboots! I made it pretty well though. I think a few people may not be used to the elevation here since most were puffing. It amazed me to think that this was 1200m above sea level and i was 4 times that height at one point! When we got there, we dropped our bags and checked out a second waterfall behind the one we would rappel down. It was actually a pretty nice temperature for a waterfall, but still cold. When the guys were ready, we were given harnesses and strapped up. I was 5th to go and it was crazy! I felt like i was going to fall for a lot of it, but apparently i was secure. The last part of the falls had water gushing into me, but i did manage to get all the way down. I got some pics, but others are on other people's cameras. I've created a facebook group so that at the end, we can share all our pictures with everyone. The hike back was a little hard since I opted to keep wearing my gumboots (which had filled up with water on the way down the falls), however now i could just walk through the streams without jumping from stone to stone. We arrived home by about 3pm and besides lunch, we had a couple hours to chill before moving on. At about 5pm, a group of 8 new people joined our group. Half of them had been travelling in this program for a good while already, and the other half had just gotten off the plane. You could tell who was who by who looked like they had been sunburnt already. Almost immediately, we grouped up and went to the chocolate factory for a tour. We saw the different steps of the process, as well as the big garden in the back where they grew the cocoa, as well as the other plants that they used to make the different flavours. We ended with a tasting - had pure 100% chocolate first which tasted like dirt! Once we added some sugar to it, it was really good. After it ended, we hung out at the factory for a bit. They served ginger beer which tasted unique. After a bit, a few of them wanted to go to the liquor store and i went with them to translate. They guys got a ton of drinks for next to nothing. The prices here are incredible! We made our way back to the hotel (cabin) after and waited for the rest to return. The night finished off with steak dinner and drinks into the night. I couldn't stay up too late tonight, however i did have a nice chat with one of my group members while the majority went out dancing. I'm glad i'm in a group with so many people that i get along with. The group came back just as i was about to go to bed - they weren't out very long at all because the place they went got shut down for not having a liquor license. Anyway, it was a fun night. The next few days should be full of adventure.

Our dog chasing the cows away
Hiking to the falls
Made it!

The start of my rappel
Chocolate factory
With dinner - vegetable/popcorn soup!

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