Absolutely buried under a mountain of exams to grade, lessons to plan, homework, and classes to both teach and attend, the absolute last thing that I should have been thinking about was travel. But, given an opportunity for adventure I figure that there are two types of people in the world. The first type would choose the more practical option and opt out in favor of sleep, preparation, and sanity. Yet, other people would grab life as it came, despite the timing, and ride it out. 99% of the time I opt for pragmatics. But, when 10 teacher friends invited me for a “relaxing” weekend of hammocks, chocolate, and waterfalls, how could I resist?
Mindo is a very small town merely two hours from Quito. Located in a beautiful “cloud forest”, the area was quite literally a breath of fresh air. A cloud forest is an area that quite literally is usually in the clouds, with dense fog that typically envelopes the area. Offering everything from butterfly sanctuaries and waterfalls to zip lines, the area welcomes those in search of relaxation and adventure alike.
The weekend offered a beautiful change of scenery from the monotony of my student and teacher life in Quito. Everything in the area was lovely, but the highlights are as follows:
- The hostel. We stayed at a lovely “treehouse” style hostel called La Casa de Cecilia, which offered various small rooms that lacked in privacy but made up for it with great open windows, hammocks and the serenity of the wilderness. We spent a lot of time enjoying the hammocks and watching fearless hummingbirds on the deck.
- The chocolate. Next-door to our hostel was an amazing chocolate shop, El Quetzal. I was able to read up on the story of this little chocolate shop, and it turns out that the owners actually opened a chocolate shop in Dexter, Michigan of all places! What a small world! If you are ever in the area, be sure to check it out! Read here for more information. The story was an awesome connection, but I promise that the chocolate is better.
- The waterfalls. The highlight of the trip was a hike to a few waterfalls. We took a cable car on a very unsafe looking contraption (powered by what appeared to be a car motor) and sailed above the cloud forest. Once in the middle of the forest we were able to visit about 6 or 7 different waterfalls. Serenely situated, each new waterfall was a new discovery. Despite the chilling natural temperature of the water we took a dip under the small falls and enjoyed watching a few hummingbirds along the path.
- Ziplines. For a mere $20 we were able to participate in a half-day zip-line excursion. We flew over the cloud forests on 10 lines. It reminded me of my family adventure in Honduras when my entire family zip-lined, including my grandparents. What great memories.
Happy and exhausted, we returned for another grueling week of classes and teaching in Quito, albeit refreshed from the clear air of Mindo.