Birds, butterflies, and beautiful scenery

Posted by on February 6, 2017

This is a short mid-week blog because we will be out of touch with the technological world for several days. We are all excited about traveling into the Amazon – something we only dreamed about until now.

Hike with Felipe

We have done a lot of hiking in Ecuador and are often tired by the end of the day. Twice we have gone on  birding hikes and have seen a lot of beautiful and sometimes rare birds. This week we hiked the trails of “The Yellow House” property. This ‘homestead’ has an interesting history if you wish to read about it.The Yellow House Trails

Wednesday our friend Felipe took us on an amazing walk through the rain forest where he and his wife, Alison, have undertaken a conservation project to plant trees on approximately 40 hectares of land outside of Mindo which was previously cleared for pasture. They are working with a German University to study the return of species now that the trees are growing.

Felipe planted this fast growing tree three years ago

An amazing view over the valley

On Valentines day, everyone was wishing us “ Feliz dia de amor y la Amistad”. Many local residents now know we are staying in Mindo and greet us with lots of questions. Of course their questions are all in Spanish so Marilyn has to interpret what is being said. I, on the other hand, am doing great with various gestures and the few words I’ve picked up. “Buenos días, Cómo está usted, Mucho gusto, Dos cervezas por favor”.

Eating fresh fruit

There are many small markets in Mindo but we also buy some of our fruit from vendors selling off the back of their trucks. I assume they are driving into Mindo from surrounding farms. In addition to melons, fresh picked bananas, fresh strawberries and pinapple, we’ve also sampled a variety of fruit unique to South America. Many of these contain a soft fleshy fruit that you break open and suck off of large seeds. Tasty.

Ochotillo fruit is very popular

As I mentioned before, February 19 is election day in Ecuador. The law states that no alcohol can be served on Feb 18, the day before the national election. (Fortunately, we are well stocked with wine and beer).

electioneering Ecuador style

The election is for President and all 137 seats in the National Assembly. It is mandatory that all citizens 16 years and older vote, punishable by a fine for failure to do so. There are 7 candidates running for President and to win a candidate must get 50% of the vote. If none of the candidates gets 50% on the first ballot they have run-off elections until a winner is declared. (Seems like an idea the US might want to adopt).

On Thursday we went to Mariposas de Mindo which is the top spot for butterflies in all of Ecuador. We saw over 25 species of colourful Lepidoptera as the more than 1200 butterflies flew all around us. The star of the show was the electric blue morpho.

We are heading to Banos in ‘The Orient’. “The Orient” is the name given to the region encompassing the Amazon. Banos is famous for its thermal hot springs bubbling out of the side of the  Tungurahua volcano (5,023 metres above sea level).  We intend to soak up the warm waters and get a massage from one of the many spas.

Tungurahua volcano when it erupted

In 1999, the volcano erupted and 25,000 townspeople were evacuated. It has erupted several time since with the latest in 2016. Tourists are warned to check conditions before traveling to the area. Too bad, we already booked it and are looking forward to sitting in the hot pools of water.

Starting tomorrow, we will head to Quito and then on to Banos where we will spend two nights (a five hour trip). On Monday (Feb 20) we’ll travel from Banos to Tena (4.5 hours). Here, we’ll get picked up in a canoe and be taken to our lodge in the Amazon.

My selfie in the sun

Last night as we walked to a restaurant, we saw four young girls filling up water balloons at a community tap. This is a sort of preamble to ‘Carnival’ which will be held across Ecuador from Feb 23 to Feb 28. In addition to dancing, parades, art, etc., everyone gets doused with water and sometimes other liquids. The kids with the water balloons didn’t care that I was a tourist and bombed me until I was soaking wet. Such fun – but I’ll get even!



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