We are back home now and watching the snow come down. I already miss the sounds of Mindo which woke us up each day. Ecuadorians rise early, roosters would crow from the yards behind us, dogs were always barking in the streets, music would blare from the tubing operators around the corner, and children would be laughing and playing on their way to an early class.
“That’s a good shower”, I said to Marilyn this morning. The shower at our house in Mindo was a low pressure trickle that alternated from hot to cold without warning. We had only a four burner propane stove top in our kitchen to boil water for our coffee and cook our meals. We didn’t have a microwave or a toaster and only a limited supply of frying pans, pots, etc. The water was okay for brushing our teeth and showering but we had to buy bottled water in big jugs from the same place we picked up our beer.
The infrastructure is being upgraded everywhere in Ecuador but at our house and even in the city of Quito, you don’t flush toilet paper. Every baños has a tiny pail beside the toilet. At a public baños (which are at most petro stations) you often have to purchase the toilet paper either from a little machine or an attendant. Marilyn and I have traveled enough to know that you always bring your own toilet paper when visiting a ‘developing’ Country. We also heard that the baños on the buses are locked and for women only. Men are let out to pea at the side of the road.
Obviously, there are high-end hotels for tourist who need all the conveniences and don’t care if they ‘experience’ the culture. We, on the other hand, enjoyed all these little features that gave us an appreciation of what life is like in Ecuador.
Last Saturday we got invited to a party and met a lot of Felipe’s cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. In addition to a nice meal, Felipe kept our glasses full of a local fruit drink spiked with sugar cane alcohol. We danced away the night in a beautiful outdoor setting next to the river.
One activity on our list was the zip lining just at the edge of Mindo. We decided to squeeze it in before Carnival so we got up early and went on Sunday. The church bells were ringing but we decided to get our ‘spiritual’ fix in the tree tops. We did ten different lines of varying degrees of incline, length, height, and speed. Zipping among the forest top was so exciting.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, it is Carnival time in Ecuador. It seemed everyone had a different version of what to expect so we certainly weren’t sure what was coming. What we did find out was that it actually ran over several days leading up to shrove Tuesday, February 28th. In fact, Monday Feb 27 turned out to be the busiest day since it was an official holiday and people flocked to Mindo for the celebrations.
Carnival, it turns out, is basically about water fights and foam- gun battles. Little kids and grown adults all get in on the fun which involves buying these canisters of foam, filling up balloons with water, and attacking everyone in sight – even tourists. We are lucky to actually have pictures because none of us really wanted to have our cameras doused. Jim took a chance with his and we’re glad he did.
As you can see, Marilyn got into the action. She was innocently watching a stage sow set up in the town square when a group of young people thought she looked like an unsuspecting target. After she got bombed, she bought her own canister and started attacking others. All in high spirited fun.
A stage, set up in the town square, was used by different performers. Mostly it involved recorded music blasting from the speakers while performers sang songs.
We spent the last couple of days saying goodbye to our new friends from Ecuador and dropping off a few ‘Canadian’ gifts to those who had made us feel so welcome.We bought our last Empanata from a lady selling them on the street, packed up our many purchases from the market in Otavalo, and spent some time recounting all the great times we shared in Ecuador. Byron, who has been our main driver and a big part of our travels, picked us up on Wednesday and drove us 2.5 hours to a small motel near the airport in Quito. Our flight on Avianca airlines left Quito at 5:05am on Thursday (March 2) so after a nice dinner we played a few more games of euchre and caught a little sleep before our 2am wake-up call.