Our trip was drawing to a close, and we had taken the overnight bus from Puerto Lopez to Quito, where we would be flying out from that night. The bus had gotten in early, so we were at a very quiet Terminal Quitumbe well before sunrise. We had already done most of the things on our explore-Quito list, so we thought: where else can we go before our flight leaves?
That’s how we ended up on a bus to Mindo, the land of cloud forests, butterflies and hummingbirds. The bus doesn’t actually let you off in downtown Mindo, just at the top of a nearby hill – but luckily a nice woman driving by stopped to give us a lift into town. I love meeting nice strangers and hearing their stories (she had briefly lived in the States and had a tattoo of Minnesota – I didn’t know that was a thing!).
Mindo wasn’t a dream stop for us, mostly because we had no real plans. We ate patacones and pored over the guidebook for inspiration and eventually decided on a big hike that sounded like it involved a lot of great nature and birding opportunities.
Unfortunately, the second we started hiking I was hating it. We had to pay more than expected to get in because our book was out of date, plus the approach trail was a mile of walking uphill on a dirt road and it was incredibly hot. It was all the things I hate about hiking and not at all how I wanted to spend my last day in Ecuador. So, after a while of me complaining, Mike and I stopped to make a new plan and went back into town for sweet beverages.
We ended up heading to a hostel where the owner charges a couple of bucks to sit on his back porch and watch hummingbirds. It was way more amazing than it sounds. There were at least two dozen different type of birds flitting around, and everything was quiet and peaceful. We sat there for ages – I’m pretty sure we both fell asleep at some point, we were so comfortable – and things felt good. Sometimes you have to trust your instincts and abandon one plan for a better one. It’s important to know that when something’s not working you don’t necessarily have to stick with it. It’s your time – you get to choose what you spend your energy on.
And that’s it! That was our trip Ecuador. We spent another handful of hours hanging out at the airport as our flight home was also delayed, and by the time we got to Texas we were ready for some of the comforts of home (tap water, clean clothes, toilets you could flush paper in). We had an awesome time in Ecuador and I can’t believe how much more we wanted to do that we couldn’t because we didn’t have enough time. It was hard to hear the stories of travelers out for months at a time without being jealous – I can’t wait for that to be me, traveling abroad with less of a timetable and more of a freewheeling feeling.
That’s the dream.